Friday, June 16, 2006

Bone shaker

Like any other large corporation Aim-Meck regularly reviews its policies and procedures. When a member of staff, by chance, happened to find one, it would provoke either astonishment, mockery or sometimes even anger. And of all its policies, none was so universally disliked as the Company Car Policy.

It created a two tier society; the 'Haves' and the 'Have nots'. Those staff in possession of a company car would talk loudly about their new Mondeo; its air con and CD player. Those without would whisper under their breaths, ‘you bastard’. But the Haves were never satisfied and would say unto the gods; grant that I may have a better car, for my neighbour to covet. And the Have nots would wait until they left the office and then spit in their coffee. Whilst the Fleet Management team would pour petrol onto the fire with emails like this:

From: Corporate Fleet Management
Sent: 13 March 2001 15:57
To: All Aim-Meck Staff
Cc: Mechanic, Ben

Subject: Mobile Valeting Service

To all company car drivers,

For any Company car driver who allowed his/her children to eat chocolate in the back of their car on a hot summers day, a mobile valeting service will be visiting Aim-Meck offices in two weeks time, please call Ben Mechanic for further details and appointment times.

Head of Corporate Fleet Management

Although Aim-Meck doesn’t have a policy to cover this particular subject, it is accepted as custom and practice that all staff are allowed use of their local company bike. They aren’t always the latest models, by any means, and staff taking them for a ride, do so at their own risk. But despite this, it was a well known fact that nearly all the men in the Creepy office had made use of their office bike, from time to time, and it was even rumoured that one or two of the ladies had too.

The Creepy office bike was a particularly ancient model, indeed she was the proverbial ‘old bone shaker’. But as a senior member of the Business Development Department observed one day, ‘a box of milk tray and just the right lubrication, and she goes like the clappers’

Many a new recruit would discreetly enquire; ‘do you think I could have a ride?’
To which Miss Late Period would always reply ‘course you can darling, meet me in the Queens Head at 8.’

Friday, June 09, 2006


It was some six months after the award of The Big Con contract, when Mr Wife Sa-Dog asked Story Maker if they could discuss the Horri-BAL project. And when Story replied, ‘which horrible project?’, Wife, rather taken aback, asked, ‘bad news?’

‘You could say that’ said Story, ‘I’ve just been looking at The Big Con project. I think we have a serious problem’
‘Not with that project we don’t. I saw the bid. Young Hope totally screwed the arse off the client; it might have been his first time, but he was a real stallion. He had insider knowledge. Come and see me when you’ve got a minute.’ And with that Wife returned to his office.

Story had been looking at the project cost statement for The Big Con for the last half hour. The project had been sold at £4.5m, so far Aim-Meck had incurred cost of more than £5.0m, and worse still, work didn’t complete for another year. Story would never claim to be a genius, but he was clever enough to know, that what he was looking at, had all the hallmarks of a disaster.

He went to speak to Wife again, ‘has anyone actually looked at this project?’ he asked.
‘We don’t need to; as I already told you, it’s a very profitable job’
'Well, let me show you this' said Story........................

More than two hours later, when Surely took Wife his usual mid-afternoon tea, she immediately rushed out of his office and called for first aid, ‘I think he’s had a heart attack’. She had good reason to think this; his usual healthy bronze was replaced with a deathly pale grey, and all he could say was ‘oh no……oh no……oh no……oh no……..’

There are many in Aim-Meck that might have looked back at this episode as a defining moment. That from this day forth, they would check that the fucking spreadsheet does add up. And that the next time they saw a bright young hopeful sat up in bed, smug look of self satisfaction on his flush face, taking a long, slow drag from a cigarette...................... they would wait until they were sure he was not alone, before they immediately assumed that he'd just lost his cherry.

But did they? Did they fuck.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

'It's on'

What happened next was almost unprecedented in the oil industry. Having received Aim-Meck’s bid on the Friday morning, along with five others, the client immediately sent their Commercial Director straight over to Aim-Meck’s office in Creepy with a contract ready for signature. A spokesman for the client, was later quoted as saying, ‘for us, this is a truly once in a lifetime opportunity’.

On hearing the news, Young Hope could barely contain his delight, especially when his name was mentioned as having been ‘instrumental in securing this significant new project’, in the Aim-Meck announcement that followed. Unfortunately, he found his best friend wasn’t taking any calls, when he phoned to thank him.

The Bid Manager had cause for celebration too; that very afternoon he was chosen to manage the new project and given a free hand to mobilise his team. At his age, he knew that this was likely to be the last project he would manage before being gently maneuvered toward early retirement. And after a somewhat unexceptional career, to bow out on such a high note was more than he could realistically have expected; he almost had erection thinking about the lucrative consultancy work that was sure to follow.

'Lion? Hi, its Wife Sa-Dog'
'Hello'. Lion's voice was difficult to hear
'Lion, The Big Con'
'It's on'

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Big Con trilogy

The Guesstimating Department was busy; the only thing they weren’t trying to guess right now, was the next time they might be able to see their wives.

So when, early one Monday morning, a request came in to get an urgent bid ready for a new client by Thursday night, they felt they had to shout. So the Chief Guesstimator went to see Wife Sa-Dog, who in turn took the teams concerns to the weekly Operations Meeting that very same morning.

Mr Wiley Shrew, who always had a lot to say at these meetings, immediately offered a solution, in the form of a Mr Young Hope. Young Hope was in his mid thirties and said to be a ‘self motivated, high achieving, hit the ground running, dynamic self starter’. Wiley thought that with a word in the right ear, he could get Young down to Creepy for a few days to ‘put this to bed’. Wife, although a little uncertain, was forced to accept the offer.

So bright and early the next morning, Young Hope arrived in the office. He’d spent the last couple of hours on the train he said ‘developing a brand new estimating model that would ensure the bid was keenly priced and delivered on time’. He also promised ‘full transparency and detailed cost build up’. Wife liked the sound of that and felt somewhat reassured. Introducing Young to the Bid Manager, Wife arranged to see them again late Wednesday afternoon for a review.

Young was determined that he should be seen to secure this project for Aim-Meck. Ok, so he wasn’t a guesstimator, and he didn’t know the oil industry, so what? It didn’t matter, because he, Mr Young Hope, had a trump card; his best friend worked in the clients head office. And that best friend told him that the client’s budget for this project was £5m.

His plan now, was a simple one; he took the Bid Manager’s equipment list and staff mobilisation plan, cut and paste them into his new model. This to the Bid Manager’s considerably surprise; gave him a cost of only £2m, to which he added an incredible £2.5m profit, so that at £4.5m the price was still below the client’s expectation.

Then he spent some time ‘prettying up’ his model, as he was familiar enough with the ‘Aim-Meck way’ to know that style and presentation was everything; if it looked good, the content was hardly likely to be challenged.

‘We ended up with a much higher profit than I’d expected, thanks to this new model’ the Bid Manager, who knew next to nothing about spreadsheets, told Wife, ‘and I’ve been through it with a fine tooth comb, down to the last nut and bolt’.
‘Do we know the clients expectation?’ asked Wife
‘Yeah, we’re well within his budget’ Young boasted.
Wife was impressed, ‘looks good’ he said, as he gave his consent for Young to approach the gods for approval to issue the bid.

Young sent the bid through to the god of all things commercial, making sure his name was clearly visible on every page. ‘Looks good’ the god replied later the same day, ‘you have my approval to proceed. Nice work Young, that’s a fantastic profit you’ve achieved.

As young left the office on Friday, he said ‘you’re gonna make a killing on that job, you better call it ‘The Big Con’’

Young was laughing all the way home.

Friday, June 02, 2006


Along with every other large corporation, Aim-Meck takes its environmental responsibilities seriously, as extracts from its statement on 'protecting our earth' clearly demonstrates:

...protecting our planet is the greatest challenge of our time......poor environmental practice is not acceptable in the 21st century.....we have an inherent responsibility to protect our planet through everything that we do...

So when Aim-Meck were given the opportunity to contribute to the construction of an onshore gas terminal in one of the most 'beautifully desolate parts of Ireland', a scheme that would involve the destruction of a large area of peat bog and the poisoning of whales and dolphins from the plants toxic discharge, they simply jumped at the chance.

As a spokesman said (to himself) before issuing the standard press release, 'we ain't got anything better to do'

Aim-Meck had formed an alliance with two Irish construction companies; Betty Build Ltd and Letty Loose Ltd in its bid to win this project. Cond-U Consulting, who'd been employed supporting the alliance, put all three company names into their 'think tank', and came up with the intriguingly simple an acronym 'BAL'. This stroke of genius was enough to justify their position as Aim-Meck's preferred supplier of consultancy services and add a cool £50k to their fees.

The project was to design, project manage and build the onshore gas purification plant for the Horri gas field. As the usual announcements were made, to the press and staff, the lack of planning permission to build the plant, was brushed aside, as a minor detail.

On his return from Dublin, Mr Wife Sa-Dog put his head around the door of Story's office, 'I need to talk to you about the Horri-BAL project' he said.
Story looked up from the huge pile of project cost statements he'd been analysing, 'which horrible project?' he asked.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

'What does she do?'

Sporting her most radiant smile Nicci Beauty stepped into Story Makers office, early one Monday morning. Nicci was in her late twenties and had an abundance of beautiful red hair. She was definitely prime contender for the title ‘Office Babe’. Story thought he would do almost anything for her.

‘Damm Charlatan would like to see you’ she said. Wearing a pair of tight trousers, and a blouse opened low enough to reveal the lacy top of her black bra and an eyeful of her small but perfectly formed breasts, Nicci looked every inch the sex goddess. Story literally felt himself grow in admiration.

‘I want to talk budgets’ said Damm. ‘I don’t know what mine is, and how much I’ve spent. Whatever it is, I’m gonna need more’

Story came back later that day with some analysis. Damm’s budget was already shot to pieces; he seemed to have an army of staff, and a penchant for business class flights, large lunches and corporate hospitality.

‘I shouldn’t be paying for half of this’ was Damm’s response.
‘So who are these people?’ asked Story
‘They work for me’
Story was confused. ‘Do you have too many staff then?’ he asked.
‘No, of course not. Actually I need a few more’

Damm’s budget had been set at £600k for the year, in first two month he’d already spent £150k. On top of that he’d just recruited two more staff to support his marketing campaigns.

‘But I’m sure I shouldn’t be paying for all this’
‘But why not, it is after all, your cost?’
‘Because, as you can see, if I do I will overspend my budget’
Story said nothing. Damm closed the discussion with ‘Well I can’t think about this now, I have relationships to build, I’m gonna have to bring someone in to look at this’

Story was incredulous. As he got up to leave though, he suggested ‘what about Nicci? Couldn’t she help with that?’
‘No’ replied Damm, ‘I need her elsewhere’.
‘What does she do anyway?’
‘What does she do?’ repeated Damm. Looking like she does’ he added, ‘who the fuck cares what she does?’

World wide abstract site