Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Laurel & Hardy vs. Pinky & Perky.

So I work in a warehouse. You don't need to know what type or what we sell, it makes no odds either way. What you DO need to understand for the purposes of this post is that we often sell to larger customers we term 'Cash & Carry's. These customers sometimes require special handling. One in particular is very... well, particular. Nothing over a certain height, so many copies of paperwork to be provided, special pallet notices to be attached to either end of each pallet, using their reference number, not ours. They're a pain in the proverbial, customers, I tell you.

Fortunately, the customer in this little tale wasn't fussy in the slightest. As long as they get the goods in decent condition, they're as happy as Larry. This was just as well, as the order, as these things go, was just a tad on the large side. In addition, it so transpired that this order arrived when our picking and warehousing systems decided to go belly-up. As far as my team leader was concerned, this was a bonus, because it meant that she wouldn't have to use the hated headset to pick this (or any other) order. Normally, she and her cohort in these matters would get together to pick and check the order as they went. Since the headsets are supposed to be infallible <coughcough>, there would be no need to check the order a second time. Unfortunately, with the systems down, it would need checking, which was a bit of a bugger, because it took up six pallets and six table-top trolleys. That's a lot of checking, trust me.
Enter Iain. Iain is one of the few people in the warehouse I would care to associate with outside of work. He's level-headed, cynical, often confrontational, usually blunt, but also very frequently humorous in a Statler & Waldorf sort of way. He's also a complete wind-up merchant. Iain's also one of the older people in the warehouse, being well into his fifties, which is not normally a problem, since he's also one of the hardest working people in the warehouse.

Back to the order. Our esteemed <coughcough> boss asked me and Iain to give the trolleys and pallets another checking, so we got hold of the paperwork picking list and trudged off excitedly. Keen? Oh yes, couldn't you tell? We got there and viewed the products with some trepidation, which was unsurprising as it managed to reached over halfway along the warehouse. The picking list wasn't much help either. The items came in such large quantities that there simply wasn't enough in the picking beds, which meant that more had to be forklifted down from various places around the warehouse. Unfortunately, all these separate locations were listed elsewhere on the picking list, so while there may have been 72 items on the trolley, I had only 51 from the one location, and the checking was held up as I searched through the paperwork for the second - or, in one case, third - location for the rest.
Add to this the fact that full boxes of some items were put on a separate pallet, while the sub-box quantities were set upon one of the trolleys. Not only that, but running order was only applicable on a particular trolley or pallet, but none of the six-and-six were in order themselves.

Confused yet? We were.

OK, so here's how it was we could find the total quantity of a certain item. Imagine that the customer has ordered 156 of this specific item. Since they come in boxes of sixty, that would mean there would be two full boxes on one of the pallets, and thirty-six loose in a box or boxes on one of the trolleys. Unless they were spread over two boxes, then there would be a chance they were also spread over two separate trolleys. Then, too, there is the possibility I would be scrabbling over various pages of the picking list to try and tally it correctly.

Well, I don't know about you, but I'M confused. In fact, both Iain and I were. It took us hours to check the bloody thing. In fits and starts, punctuated by occasional bits of sanity-preserving silliness and almost constant commentary and mutual piss-taking, we fumbled and stumbled our way through the order until, almost at the the very end, we fell into a truly epic fumble. Six or seven times we counted this one item, each time getting a different result. I tell you, it was really doing our heads in. Eventually, we managed to reach a consensus on the quantity, one that happily managed to match the paperwork - although by that stage, we would have happily foregone that, as long as we two agreed. As we prepared to move on to the next item, Iain sardonically observed this little Gem:

It was.


Bonus post: Seeing as how we were referencing Laurel and Hardy today, I thought I would share this little clip of Julie and Reynard the hedgehog dancing along to Stan & Ollie in 'Way Out West'. Apparently, it's not viewable in the USA and some other places, because it contains a bit of copyrighted material...
Oh, and it's a little on the quiet side.