Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Meeting Victor

Last Saturday still haunts me.

I wish my mind still grasped the happiest moments of last weekend. Learning how to brew beer? Check. Hawks game? Check. New cologne and a full spring wardrobe? Check. Caught up on sleep? Check.

But one tiny encounter scares the crap out of me.

My Wife took me out to meet a co-worker and his girlfriend. Tapas. I love Tapas. Sangria makes me smile.

My Inner Beta still carries a possessive streak: who the hell does this guy think he is, trying to meet my Wife in the twilight hours? Even if I am there, still, it's inappropriate. Or, that's what my instinctive defensiveness says.

Victor came in first, followed by a guarded bitch, who immediately turned her nose up at us. It's the girl I noted first. My Wife told me this girl practices law. What was her name? I can't even remember, but by God she carried herself exactly like a Roissy-caricatured stuck-up lawyer, refusing to even look at us.

Afterwards, my Wife wondered aloud how she might persuade Victor to dump this girl, with a name I still cannot recall.

Victor did not seem so threatening then. Short. Overweight. Poorly dressed. Under-educated. Passive.


We talked for the rest of the night, and I really liked Victor. He was smart, and insightful. He discussed literature, poetry, and cooking. And he had a big nerd streak: the new Daredevil on Netflix captivated his imagination that night, and he convinced me that I need to have a watch one of these nights.

So he won me over. Enough that I don't hate him, anyways. He was a little Jon Stewart snarky at times, but nothing rubbed me too terribly.

My Wife said she knew we would get along.

And then she added that a lot of people at work don't like him much. She sees how smart he is, and wants to give him more work, but his reputation drags him down to peon-level work. He is a stand-offish guy, who doesn't really do the busy work that keeps the office together.

So everyone hates him. And they badmouth him to management. And while my Wife tries to give him important work, and likes the work he does, her managers won't let her train him any further.

And that's what kills me.

Because that's how people probably see me.

Today, I cussed myself out while driving to work. I had forgotten about a "high-dollar" claim that needed to be rebilled, and wasn't sure if the billing window was open on the 22nd or the 21st.

We've had a number of issues with Insurance Companies. CMS has reversed a large number of claims for incorrect NPI numbers. NPI numbers are doctor IDs. Go ahead and look up your primary care doctor on the NPI Search Registry.
Since, oh, 2011, CMS has actually enforced NPI verification for prescriptions. Before, pharmacies were filling prescriptions with the NPIs of Veterinarians, Social Workers, you name it. Believe you me, Medicare does NOT like paying for some girl's Plan B medication, submitted with the fake NPI
2223334444, from "Doctor Plan B."
Anyways, we had a claim reversed, which, because of that whole "Doughnut Hole" thing, caused our pharmacy to lose a lot of money. After months, our Managed Care team finally managed to get permission to rebill this claim.
To me....well, it's $7,000. So it matters.
But, seriously?
Low on the damn list.
This week our Sales Team was only hours away from issuing a report declaring a Medicare client in violation of their contract by $1.5 million. That's a BIG FREAKIN' DEAL. Then we had another million dollars in Administration Fees in another account. That's a big freakin' deal. And did I mention the $750,000 dollars still missing from a different account last year?
Let's add in the white paper I had to write for upper management, as in upper management 2 levels removed from CEO, for the $1.5 million someone else owes us.

There's a lot of BIG FREAKIN' DEALS going on right now, and most of them are in shit-shape.

But to these people, this $7,000 was Heaven and Earth and it needed to be resolved.

And I sort of forgot. Today was the day. But if it were yesterday? Lost money.

Because I sometimes (usually?) filter out little ticket items like that.

Not everyone does this.
Small correction: almost no one does this.
When I look at my Wife work, she does not usually set "priorities." She makes To-Do lists. She loves to-do lists. Whatever she feels needs to be done, gets put on the list, and she keeps working until she finishes, or is emotionally drained.
She does not, however, sit down and think about more efficient ways of doing things, or the most effective things to do. It's the same thing day in, day out. "This is what I need to do today," she says, and I've never seen that To-Do list change, not unless I prod her to change.
The Account Managers in my department respond to routine work emails quickly. Usually within minutes.
People really like this attribute, especially managers. There's a lot of monotonous drudgery in every major corporation. 3 hours of every day, or more near month-end, consists of standard reporting, manual journal entry, data corrections, that kind of think. Even "well-paid" workers tend to spend a lot time doing what is essentially "bitch work."
Managers don't want to think about this. They want to delegate it, and they want it be done.
Our newest Account Manager worked 70-80 hours as an entry-level employee and built a lot of friendships. When the Account Manager opened up, she was the "natural" fit.

These guys do tedious work very well, without complaint. They get reward for it.

What do they not do well?
Original research. Trouble-shooting. By god, do they ever suck at it.
Last week we identified a possible problem with our billing software. It's resulting in us getting short-paid claims. This is to the tune of $50,000 every few months.
My Account Manager spent an hour at his desk trying to figure what was causing the issue, and, more importantly, trying to justify his original conclusion "India screwed up."
Finally he threw his hands up and said he was right, even though he couldn't tie out the numbers.
Keep in mind, he is an Accountant.
When I wanted to push this issue further, we took the issue to our Manager. Our Manager yelled at us for bothering her with such an unimportant issue. That was last Thursday, and since then there's been no movement. I'm amassing a large sample of claims, but the whole INTJ in a corporate environment means I have no idea who the hell I would even approach.
There have been times when the Account Managers plugged away at $2,000 issues for well on 2 hours on a conference call, with twenty people listening in absolute boredom.

Priorities? Insights? Big picture thinking?

Nope, not what they do well at all. I am of the opinion that this is a large reason why our whole operation has become atrociously ineffective, particularly with the major outsourcing. They can't micro-manage, and they no longer have enough busy-bodies to cover the endless hours of work that characterize corporate jobs. Worse, a lot of time now gets wasted in pointless efficiency meetings, that arrive at no useful conclusions, and result in the same pontifications over and over again.

It is amusing to hear the Account Managers parrot the actual Managers, though. Around 6 months ago, my Manager started saying "If you're talking, you're on mute." This because the India team, when asked a question, would say nothing for several minutes. Now all our Account Managers say the same thing, resulting in a chorus of "You're on mute" on every single phone call.

Can you imagine why I might want to leave?

When I was young, I dreamt I was in Hell. Hell seemed idyllic: a perfect suburban community, playing baseball. But then night fell across the town, and my 12 year old friends looked up at the sky, and discussed the twinkling fireflies.

Fireflies? No, I said, they were stars. Stars!

My friends laughed and said they were fireflies.

I woke up, felt disgusted, and showered for an hour.

I could avoid the stupid in school, but now there's just no avoiding it. Honestly? If I knew I would've ended up here, I would've worked a lot harder.

Not because of the salary, not because of the benefits, not because of the travel. Because of the stupid. Stupid is a virus, an insidious nightmare draining your brain and replacing its contents with toxic meme-ology.

But how to escape?!
That's what scares the hell out of me. I wake up in the middle of the night, gasping for breath, because there is no possible way to escape. Or, at least, that's how it feels.

Because the people in my environment will not let me advance. They won't even give me time or tools to fix the major problems I know need fixing! They blather on and on during our conference calls, burning precious hours my team needs to work my accounts. They accidentally sabotage major initiatives. They have no buy-in for solutions and try to sell their half-baked "ideas".

That's a pathetic mind-set, part of me knows, but a larger part of me feels trapped in a cage, slowly drowning in a sea of noxious menial work and obvious nicompoopery. Sometimes I come home, stare at the wall for half an hour, and wonder why none of my neurons will fire, why my passion seems to burn so low.

Victor? My Wife thinks Victor is smart. But because he comes off as lazy, he has no future.

That's what scares the hell out of me.

I do not want to end up like that. 

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