The third week was hell.
The numbers we produced in the lab were of utmost importance to the company’s contracts, contracts that paid my company many millions. Everything hinged on those values the lab produced, and a single mistake could cost tens of thousands of dollars. I had already taught Toodles (repeatedly) how to round numbers, and reminded her many times that we needed numbers to the hundredths place, not the tenths or the thousandths or the occasional blank spaces she left on the paperwork. To make sure one did not write a value in the wrong box of the extensive chart, one used a ruler to line up the particular test with its boxes. Mistakes were not an option, and my bad is a thin apology to a contract that just lost more money in a day that some people make in a year.
It still makes me shiver to think of Toodles’ paperwork. She was unbearably sloppy, mixing up values and connecting entire streams of answers to the wrong test, and then because she was off a line, the fifteen tests beneath it were also wrong and she’d already dumped the sample juice to speed up efficiency so no more tests could be run. She volunteered herself to copy the values from paper to computer, and not expecting a problem, my nicer boss let her because I was high on nitrous at the dentist. Because data entry was boring, Toodles rushed through it and entered four hundred test results incorrectly. Because spot-checking was also boring, she never caught her errors and blithely cried TOODLES and went home for the day. It was decided that she shouldn’t do computer work, and she was offended that my bad did not excuse an innocent mistake.
Intent on increasing our efficiency, she devised more bizarre ways to speed us up. This led to even more mixed up tests and I was flummoxed one evening as I did the computer work to find values on tests ranging between 4 and 5 when the only possible answers were 2-3.99. I had absolutely no idea what she had done to create those answers, and took the problem to the nicer boss in bewilderment. The tests had to be thrown out, apologetic emails sent to the contracts and retests scheduled for the next day that was already packed in the regularly scheduled tests, and my boss sighed.
“Do you know what she did today?” my boss asked. “She walked into Mr. Magazine Time’s office and sat on his magazines as she cried I’m booooorrrrrreeeeed!”
“She can have the work truck,” I said flatly. “I’m driving my own car from now on so I don’t have to listen to her talk about the air sparkle.”
The next morning, I walked into the lab and found it seething with ants again. All the lab equipment had been put away filthy. From then on, I waited for her to drive back to the main office, and then I cleaned everything that she had supposedly done herself. My shifts grew longer and hers grew shorter, and my boss could not get rid of Toodles because she was the wife of the tech guy. Toodles was unhappy about her shortening shift, but she could not be trusted to do anything without direct supervision. Although my boss had far too much on her plate with the busy season, she drove to the lab to retrain Toodles. Finding this ridiculous, Toodles tried to demonstrate her ways of speeding us up for efficiency. The boss quashed her plans and Toodles was furious. She was a lawyer, and this was just a lowly lab tech job that was beneath her, and she stomped out the door for air.
I dreaded going to work every morning. But the best was yet to come.