Why Your Two Cents Matter….Literally!
Mrs. Root of Good decided to pick up the keyboard and pen a few thoughts on work and the decision to finally pull the plug and join me in early retirement. Here’s what she has to say:
What will it take for me to leave the corporate world and pass the day with Mr. RoG on the back deck laying on the hammock sipping margaritas? Overall, my job is pretty easy and the pay is good. I have very good benefits, flexible hours and my managers pretty much let me do what I want as long as the job gets done. And I’m due to take my three month sabbatical any time now. So what will it take for me to leave my job? I do want to spend more time with our kids and travel more. I get jealous when I come home exhausted and Mr. RoG has spent hours outdoor reading. It’s a tough decision. If I work for just another year, my salary is enough to pay for our yearly travel expenses for many years! But there are times when I wonder if it is worth the headaches to stay at work. There are times when I feel what I’m doing is just silly and a waste of my time!
In the corporate world, we value our customers (they are the reason why we exist) and our number one job is to keep the clients happy! And when the customer brings us millions of dollars in business we bend over backward to keep our client happy. Recently, I almost quit over two pennies. My contact at the BigBucks Investment Group (not their real name, but for confidentiality’s sake, lets call my client “BIG”) may have quit over the two pennies! I will never know but my guess is my contact felt the same way as I do.
So what’s up with the two cents?
Each month, I reconcile account balances for our clients. Many months, we are off by a penny due to rounding. I have to manually correct and reissue a new statement to the client. I spend an extra fifteen minutes to fix the balance. I’m not sure what my client does over this penny. All I know is between the client and I, we spend much more than a penny to fix the one penny issue! But OMG, we haven’t had a difference in two pennies until five months ago. The two penny difference cropped up in May but we didn’t discover the difference until June when we reconciled the May balance.
In June I fixed the two penny difference and resent the statement. My contact at BIG confirmed all is good and left the firm a few days later. All was good with me and my accounts and at the end of June, I went on my five week vacation. Upon my return from vacation I was greeted with slew of emails going back and forth between client BIG and my coworkers over the two penny difference. My coworker was kind enough to leave me alone and let me catch up on my emails. After reading all the emails regarding the two cents difference, I was boiling inside and said to my co-worker…WTF! Great thing about working at an investment bank, we can use the profane language out loud like our NY coworkers and it’s completely acceptable!
Apparently, my BIG contact left the firm but his coworker did not realize we resolved the two penny difference and must still have the old statement. By the time my coworker resent the statement in July, it was too late and my client said they could not accept the revised statement. To make the client happy, my adjustment on the two cents was reversed and adjusted with the July numbers. To make a long story short and without going through all my emails (I can’t keep all the facts straight of when the two cents adjustments were made and reversed), the client was still not happy.
We ended up having a conference call for the second time to resolve the two cent difference. A third call was made to finalize the numbers. After many additional emails, a final email was sent to confirm the balances and a final statement was reissued at the beginning of October. So far so good. Between myself, my coworker and my manager, we spent many hours resolving this two penny difference! We all feel this is crazy and a waste of everyone’s time.
Damn, if I could, I would send them a check and give them my two cents! But no, we must make the client happy and do as they say to keep them happy. After all, they give us millions of dollars in business each year. For me, I shake my head and wonder if this is why my contact at BIG left the firm. So many times I just want to tell my manager, “you take care of this so I can move on and focus on my other clients and do something else that is productive!” These two cents really stressed me out and make me wonder if what I’m doing is meaningful enough to stay in the corporate world.
Mr. RoG’s thoughts:
If you think this story sounds bad, just think how challenging it was for me to be a dutiful husband and listen to the entire saga! Luckily I was able to lay in my hammock while being supportive.
But seriously, this seems totally asinine and serves as a great example of why so many get frustrated and upset with the corporate world. I wish I could tell Mrs. RoG (and others) that early retirement is completely free of stressful annoyances like the “two cent issue”. Unfortunately, we still have to deal with routine irritations from things like health insurance explanation of benefit letters that make no sense, crazy bills from the cable (internet) company, and navigating complex phone menus to fix things that other people messed up.
Mrs. RoG (perhaps due to my ambivalence) is also experiencing a touch of the “one more year syndrome”. It’s a phenomenon where soon-to-be early retirees tell themselves year after year that “just one more year, and I’ll have even MORE money!”. An extra year of Mrs. RoG’s labor (which after her vacation time, paid holidays, and her sabbatical would be more like seven months of actual work) would yield enough money to fund an extra two or three years of our early retirement budget or greatly expand our travel budget for many more years. However that’s one more year where she is gone most of each week day and not enjoying the early retiree lifestyle.
Please input your two cents.
(cover photo courtesy of flickr user Heartlover1717)