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Flip the lid

by Practicer 

Posted: 05 February 2020
Word Count: 964
Summary: For the X challenge

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It was the road to recovery for the transportation of beef after the emergency of mad cow disease. The government had done  much to promote British beef , convincing the public to eat it again. How could anything possibly get worse, when they gave me an admin job. 
It was dogs body work, I merely had to photocopy important documents that consisted of numerical and alphabet codes, quantities of stock, in this case , beef , and make sure every in tray received a copy. 
At a bargain price the British consumer could eat quality frozen beef  and it was enough to convince those who believed in their Sunday roast  or their summer barbecues. 
The beef was put into large refrigerators and usually sold at butchers auction up and down the country. Of  course to maintain the quality the beef, it  had to transported in large quantities in order to cope with strict  health and safety regulations. 
My first two weeks in the job were stressful enough, especially when two separate photocopies got stuck together, that simply stated the Beef sales department has confirmed purchase of beef directly from Farmers.  Unfortunately my line manager, Arron,  didn´t receive his copy, only for me to timidly answer that it may well be in another departments in tray.  It didn´t occur to me at that juncture that I would be responsible for sending out the stock list , similar to a menu, to the many auction markets via a fax machine. 
I was reassured by Arron that my time had come, not particularly because I was doing a great job, but the admin assistant, Mikey, who usually deals with purchase orders and confirmation of purchase, would be taking annual leave  on the day of the auction. 
So the afternoon before the auction , Arron  gestured toward Mikey, I had only spoken to Mikey once or twice, usually about alcoholic beverages at the weekend. It would be our first working lunch , well I would have to work during somebody else´s lunch. 
Mikey approached me with a very thick wad of a4 paper upon a clipboard. 
He seemed a little bit distracted by the the all excitement of his holiday and perhaps the buzz of a busy office during a pre-  auction. 
I told Mikey that although I had plenty of practice with the photocopier, It was only the second time I had used the fax machine. Mikey asked me when the first time was , I said  once when Arron had stamped a confirmation of receipt from the stationary department for more fax paper. 
Mikey responded by telling me that there wasn´t much to it. The only thing is , the amount of auction houses. The time pressure, if you want to get the fax messages sent before your flexible hours  are over. 
I got into work at six thirty in the morning so that I could leave at the end of my day  at three thirty in the afternoon. However, Mikey knew of a wonderful shortcut that would at least speed up the confirmation note , telling the auction houses that our department had received the order and that they knew their order was arriving. 
Mikey let me into his secret  and told me that We have so and so much beef to sell , it´s kind of rationed. But the auction houses will want it on a gradient demand. They will bargain with us for the best beef at a reduced price just before it becomes unfrozen, so in a way they get it ready to eat.  To give yourself time to keep up with the purchases order, you can automate the confirmations. The confirmations are always the same document but they will have the relative auction houses fax number.  So instead of faxing them all immediately after they sent purchase, you can rotate the confirmation notes matching all the auctions house alphabetically with their corresponding fax  number. It is basically the same as the free dial beef sales enquiry number, twenty four seven, well almost.  You just have to flip the lid on the paper tray of the fax machine where automatic re- dialing is rather than the number bar on the side. 
The very next afternoon, there was indeed a buzz around the office. I was left alone to run the fax machine orders. At first , I faxed each auction house individually as well as every confirmation note. 
However , Time was getting on, so I opted to flip the lid and typed the number re dial and beef enquires, to at least multiply the confirmation note. However , around this time , I had almost no fax paper left. I panicked and reverted to individually dialling.  I pressed the x and then the cancel button  , in order to stop multiply copies as well as wasting so much paper that may not be used , if all the beef had been ordered up. 
I arrived at the office again the next morning. To my surprise, Arron was sitting at his desk holding his head in his hands, there was a big mug of black coffee on the desk in front of him. 
Without saying a word , I heard a mechanical whirring sound emitting from the fax machine. I walked over to it. An Almost blank A4 piece of paper shot out of the machine. At the bottom of the paper was the fax number for the Beef sales department  free fax enquiries.  Then another whirring sound. I looked at where I had flipped the lid. Instead of cancelling multiply copies of the same confirmation note, I had accidently faxed the Beef sales department free fax line , a few hundred times. The fax machine was almost out of order.

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Comments by other Members

euclid at 09:57 on 06 February 2020  Report this post
Wow! sounds like a fairly non-typical bad day at the office!

Well done, Robert.

To round it  off, you might like to add a sentence or two to say what the outcome was for the company and for the narrator.



michwo at 22:37 on 06 February 2020  Report this post
Quite an absorbing story, Robert.  Is it based on your own personal experience?
There are one or two cases where I didn't know if the expression should be singular or plural, e.g. butchers auction = butchers' auction or butcher's auction or butchers' auctions?  Sometimes there were words missing, e.g. to maintain the quality the beef it had to transported... should ideally read ... to maintain the quality of the beef it had to be transported...
But these are relatively minor things and did not spoil the overall involvingness of the story itself.
P.S. I think it's OK to put 'dogsbody' as one word.

Practicer at 13:13 on 07 February 2020  Report this post
Yes , it is based on my time spent as an administration assistant with the intervention board in the nineties.
When I re write it,  I will round it off as advised.
It felt  good to come up with an idea and upload it, so it can be critiqued and then re- drafted.
I was getting writer´s block recently.

Thank you for the critique and grammar help. 
I wrote it all up in one draft , copied from handwritten notes, while the idea was still fresh in my mind.
 I was bit slap- dash with proofreading. 

I hope there are other entrants to this challenge. 

I wouldn´t want to win it by de- fault.

I am also not too sure how to set up the next challenge.


Bazz at 12:39 on 08 February 2020  Report this post
I like the matter of fact build of this, it keeps quite an authentic voice and helps the story clear. I'd also like a little more at the end, it feels a little abrupt. I think a lot of people could relate to the "technology gone wrong in the workplace" thread here!

Bazz at 12:43 on 08 February 2020  Report this post

I am also not too sure how to set up the next challenge.

Just so you know, you create a new topic by clicking "new message", name it challenge 726 (as it would be in this case), and then all you have to do is set a prompt, a word count and a deadline. for example "must involve a haunted house, one thousand words total, midnight next sunday."

Hope that helps :)

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