My worst job

Only the oldest readers will remember when I worked for Dumb&Dumber (otherwise known as Jed and Lisa), a married couple who owned a company for vacation rentals in Europe. They fought constantly, often pulling me in to take sides, and while I was originally only hired to update their website and do nothing else by the end of the job I was nearly running the entire office.
My journal used to go all the way back to early 2000, but it was privatized up to 2002, including all the entries about that job. Last night I went back through and read some of them. I can’t believe I worked for these people. I was such a coward; I never said anything and these people should win awards for their stupidity.

Some examples that I copy/pasted out of old journal entries:

Lisa: “Heather, for every property we put up, I want you to put it in Outlook Express.” Does this make an ounce of sense to anyone?
Me: “Um, I can put the property manager’s contact details in Outlook if you want me to.”
Lisa: “No, that’s good too. But Heather, you’re not listening. I want you to put the property in outlook express.”
Me: “But Lisa, you can’t put properties in outlook express. Do you want me to email someone the URL?”
Lisa: “No, I said I want you to put the property in there.”
Me: “But why?”
Lisa: “For mass emailing.”
At this point I’m thinking, Mass emailing who?. Me: “Do you want me to email the property manager about which properties we’re using?”
Lisa: “Heather, no! You need to get organized!”

Jed: I’ve passed you along a contract someone sent us about submitting our site to search engines. It needs to be optimized for them.
Me: Optimized how?
Jed: I don’t know, that’s what this contract is for.
I open up this “contract” and I don’t understand any of it. It’s a huge form about searching. I know the basics of how a search engine spider works, but nothing advanced. This really isn’t in my job description, I have absolutely no freaking clue what the hell he’s asking me to do. Just then, the phone rings.
Jed: Heather, it’s Alan. I’m letting you talk to him.
Me: Um, okay.
Alan: Hi there Heather, Jed tells me you’re their webmaster. So I need you to optimize the site for web searching. But don’t spam it, things in your keyword and title need to be repeated up to three times. But not four! Just change the main page. Make sure you mention your keys at least three times. You see the table? It says 1%, and you can go all the way up to 7%, but nothing over 8! Mention things up to 7 times. But over 8 is spamming — are you following?
Me: ……Um —
Alan: Great! Okay, so get to work! *click*

We have this huge domain name confusion. We don’t know who hosts her new domain name, and the FTP information to access it. She contacted ‘easyspace’, who sent her an email saying, “ns.pinc” has the “authoritive” somethingerrather, and then it spits out what looks like an IP#. I know a lot about web design, but I have no idea what this means. Even if I did, I don’t think I could unscramble it.

“You should have read this email more carefully,” she says to me. Holding a print-out of it. “It says right here who hosts us.
“NS.pinc” is not a valid web address, Lisa” I told her. “www.pinc.com would be. However, there is no www.pinc.com. It just reroutes you to an entirely different server.”
“Then what’s this number?”
“I think it’s an IP address.”
“Well, there it is right there. Now you know.”
ARGHHHHHHH!!! “Lisa, I can’t do anything with an IP Address, because I don’t know what that means. I’m not trained in that particular skill.”
“Then learn,” she tells me simply. As if it’s really that simple.
“There are $3’000, 12-week courses to learn these kinds of things. I can’t just learn in a day.”
“You don’t learn through courses — you learn through experience. I run a small business and learned everything I know through this.”
I bit my tongue on saying, “you didn’t learn much”… ugh, god woman! Just because I know HTML doesn’t mean I know /everything/ that ever has to do with the web! She comes back with, “Do you want to learn, or not?”. I tell her yes I do. “Then learn with me.”

Context: Lisa had asked me to link all video tours as pop-up windows on the property pages.
Just as I’m making up my invoice, she yells out, “Heather! This is terrible!”
Thinking that I must have mis-linked a tour, I run over and ask her what the problem is. She points at the screen, utterly horrified, “You can’t see the text!”
I look closer, trying to figure out what she means. She moves the mouse over to the link and opens the video tour, then points frantically, “You can’t see the text! See this window? It covers it up!”
I stood there, awe-struck by the sheer idiocy of the statement. I didn’t quite know what to say. She pointed at it again, “Fix it!”
“Lisa? This is what you asked for.”
“Heather look! When this tour opens up, it covers up the text! Then people can’t read and watch at the same time!”
I take the mouse and offer a solution, “They can always minimize the window… or resize it”
“No, I don’t like that. Heather, I should be able to see the text through this! Can’t you fix that?”
“Of course I can’t fix that.”
“Don’t OF COURSE me!” She goes into a long speel about my attitude problem…. eventually I cut her off with, “If you want it fixed, go call a professional”. She gives me my paycheque very begrudgingly.

“Heather!” she yelled, “Where are the invoices for VH?”
I hadn’t a clue what she meant, “What?”
“The invoices. It’s your job to file them off and keep track of the money we’re spending.”
VH is a rental search engine which I regularly submit their properties to. Whenever I attach photos to the property pages, there is a charge of $48. When you confirm the purchase, a “you did this, here’s your cookie” page is displayed, which I routinely print out and give to Jed along with his credit card. He files each. But as of one conversation in which Lisa told me Jed could not file anything, I began giving them to Lisa who would tell me to hand them to the accountant, Elaine.
“Lisa,” I say, as I’ve said a thousand times, “I used to give the pages to Jed–” She cut me off before I could explain that we’d gone through this before.
“Don’t do that,” she says, I’ve heard this before and I prepare myself. “Jed can’t file anything. You can’t give anything to Jed. Heather this is your responsibility. The internet is your system, not mine. Anything on the internet is your responsibility.”
“–But after the conversation we had earlier, I began giving the receipts to you, and then the–.”
“I never got any,” she says incredulously.
“That may be because there’s only been two more submissions since that conv–“
“Heather,” she smiles her special smile, “I am giving you my credit card.” She makes a square shape with her fingers, “When I go to buy something, it has no money on it! And I don’t know where it’s gone! Since I gave you my credit card, I can only assume you’ve spent all this money with it.” (Am I hearing this correctly? Is she accusing me of stealing money? Or purchasing on the sly?) She continues while I stare blankly, “Since you don’t file the money into accounts payable and receivable, I don’t know how much you’ve ever spent! You could have spent $100, or $400 and I don’t know where it’s going…” She trails off and flashes another smile, it’s just enough to make me wonder if she actually may be accusing me of making purchases with her credit card. I shake that thought and dismiss it as paranoia.
“Lisa, we know that the print-outs of the past were lost as no one told me not to give them to Jed — but we’ve had this conversation, and since then there have only been one or two–“
“Heather, listen to me, don’t give them to Jed, it’s your responsibility.” She turns to Jed, “Jed, do you have receipts?”
“No.”
“Elaine, do you have receipts?” she asks the accountant.
“Two,” she answers, which is the number of submissions made since the last conversation, as mentioned before. I look at Lisa and wait for her to realize what is going on.
“You see, Heather?” she yells, waving a hand. “You haven’t taken any responsibility for any of the accounts and now we only have two receipts! You need to get a system. If you’re going to work at home, people will expect you to keep track of their accounting!” Not if I’m their web designer, they won’t.

I did eventually quit that job. I handed in my resignation, which went something like this:
“I woke this morning to the longest hug I’ve had in months, breakfast in bed, and lots more moral support. I was so nervous I felt as if I’d get sick, but I managed to fend it off until after I handed in the resignation. Jed spent the next 15 minutes telling me how valuable I was to the company, and asking how could they ever function without me. Lisa spent her 15 minutes telling me I had no right to leave. I didn’t know what to say to either. The guilt from both their arguments began to eat away at me. Fortunately, that didn’t last very long. By ten o’clock I was reminded why I was quitting when Lisa pressed her arm to my face while pointing at something. I told her that it made me uncomfortable, and she shouted back, “You’re so rude! I’m working here, you move out of MY arm!”.
Right, right, that reason . . .”

These were all taken over about a 10 month span.
I hate reading back in my journal; I can’t believe I was that person. Toward the end of that job I was being sexually harassed by one and had the other raise her hand to me more than once. LEAVE, DAMN YOU. I think that job nearly killed me, I was going through intense health problems while working there, and regularly didn’t sleep for 90 hours at a time. They were absolutely batshit crazy. I kept working for them because I needed the money for our wedding, which was the next year.

Mrs. Dumb spoke with a posh British accent that she played up to sound twice as thick whenever she answered the phone. She had absolutely no knowledge of computers, the internet, or what a “job description” was. Her only redeeming quality is that she gave birth to both her babies by herself, which I did think was cool even back then when I thought unassisted birth was an insane thing to do. Although with her smarts paired with her husband I think her children are probably fortunate to have survived this long.
Mr. Dumber never brushed his teeth and was just all around skeevy. He was a nervous, pot-smoking, pussy-whipped sniveling man who tried to act really powerful and boss me extra hard when his wife wasn’t around so that he could feel like a “big man”. He ducked out ten times a day to smoke a joint and honestly thought I didn’t know. My favourite story was when he fabricated a tale about going for a cup of coffee and made a big show of coming over to me and asking me what I wanted so he could ‘be nice’ and pick me up something, since he clearly was going to stand in line for a while which would be why he was going to take a little bit coming back. Yeah, that’s it. I’m sure he accidentally stepped into a hotboxed car on his way back and that’s why he reeks so bad, too.
We went around in circles with: “You want coffee?”, “Yes”, “Sugar?”, “No, black”, “Just black?”, “Yes”, “No cream?”, “No cream, just black. Black coffee, Jed”, “Just black coffee?”, “Yes, Jed” ad nauseum. He came back with hot cocoa.

I am glad I was keeping a journal while working there, however. Now I have all this archived stupidity and six years down the line can look back on it laughing.
Batshit crazy.

Comments

comments

Categories: Uncategorized

56 Comments

Leave a Reply