Sometimes, I just don't get it.
I was all packed up and standing in my office doorway, turning out the lights, when Stilt came bursting in from the shop.
"How are we supposed to unload these big crates from Riverside Coating?"
"Riv-Tech Coating?" I queried, only half intersted.
"There's a hot shot driver here with a trailer and there are four huge crates on it and he says they're for us from the coating company but we didn't take anything like that to the coater and I don't think we can lift them and what should we do?"
He actually said all of that with one breath.
"Well," I said, "we're not supposed to be getting any crates from Riv-Tech or anybody. We only have those hose reels and that hydraulic unit out for coating."
Stilt argued, "But our name is on his paperwork!"
With a deep sigh I let go of my briefcase handle and walked out the shop door and into the back.
There they were alright. Three pretty good sized wooden crates, about the size of the biggest entertainment center you've ever dreamed of, and a fourth one big enough and long enough to contain a pretty scary sized missle. Aw geez.
The hot shot driver was busy undoing all of the many cinching straps holding down the crates. He had every intention of dumping those babies in our parking lot.
A quick inspection of the paperwork showed that all he had was a work order from his own trucking company, with our name as the "Ship To" but no name in the "Shipper" section of the order.
"Those crates aren't ours," I said.
"Yes they are," said the driver.
"N-O ... T-H-E-Y'-R-E ... N-O-T," I declared in my best politically correct but firm voice, biting off each word. "Where did you get them?"
"Right where your guy told me to get them ... Riverside Coating."
"Riv-Tech Coating," I corrected.
By this time the entire remaining late crew was standing around, including the Shop Foreman, Oso. "I told him right where to go," said our Foreman.
"Yeah. He told me right where to go," repeated the driver. "And I went to Riverside Coating and they told me that these crates were the shipment and here they are."
"Riv-Tech Coa ... oh ... no." The light had flashed on in my thick skull.
Earlier that day, there had been a Requisition form on my desk, from our Manager, Tree-Tall, that said to issue a Purchase Order to "Riverside Coating". I didn't remember any such name as a vendor so I went into the database and searched. Nope. No Riverside. On a hunch, I searched just "Ri," and Riv-Tech's name popped up. I took the paper down the hall to Tree's office and asked him if maybe he meant "Riv-Tech".
"Yeah, Riv-Tech ... Riverside ... whatever," he brusqued.
I figured that there was no point making a big deal out of the names because "it was just paperwork" for heavens sake. So I entered the purchase order, phoned the Riv-Tech people to get the price (they knew all about the coating job) and forgot about the whole thing.
So, here I was, after hours, with a truck & trailer in my parking lot, carrying probably really valuable goods which the real owner was probably figuring were hijacked, by now.
I called Tree. "No. Yeah. Riverside. I mean Riv-Tech. Whatever. You know ... the place we send all of our stuff for coating," he stuttered. (We use several different coating sub-contractors -- but none of them have "Riverside" in their name.) "Oso called me a few minutes ago and told me what was going on, so I just talked to Walter, the owner of Riv-Tech, and he says that our stuff is still sitting over there in his yard. Tell the driver to take those crates back to wherever he got them from."
As I hung up, the driver also hung up and said that his dispatcher said that those crates belonged to us and to drop them off.
Oso piped up, "I know what happened! I told the dispatcher to have this driver go over to just north of Jennings Road on West Fork and the coater was the first big building that he'd come to, Riverside Coating. Tree told me Riverside Coating. I'm sure of it."
"Yeah," said the driver, "that's exactly what I was told ... just north of Jennings and get a load at Riverside Coating. I asked them for paperwork or a waybill or sumpin and they told me that they don't use no paperwork."
"Fine," I said, "you went to some place named Riverside Coating and picked up somebody's crates with no paperwork. Take these crates back to wherever that place is, give them back -- then go to Riv-Tech Coating and pick up our shipment." Snarlingly, the driver started banding the crates back down.
Satisfied that the Great Mystery had been solved, I left for home.
First thing the next morning, I passed Tree in the hallway, and he said, "Hey, I'm glad to see that we got our stuff from Riverside."
"Yeah," I said, "I'm glad too."