Yesterday I received an e-mail from one of the managers in the plant in which he directed me to force two orders to drop for shipment. The orders were due to ship next month. My new desk is close to this manager and I know he is more of speaking than emailing kind of guy. So I got up and walked over.

“Um, can you help me understand why we would be shipping these orders now if they are due next month?”

“They moved the orders out. They were due this month and then they screwed us and moved them out to next month. So now we are going to screw them back.” He made a ring with one hand and drove his finger through it enthusiastically to help illustrate his point. He can get upset about these kinds of situations, but he wasn’t at this time; he was just providing a friendly illustration for my benefit.

The customer in question is an overseas branch of our company. Often they move their orders around on us when the demand on them isn’t what they expected, causing us to pay the expense of their poor forecast. We have enough bad forecast of our own and don’t need to hold onto unique product for them that we can’t use and they ordered, especially at a sensitive time (end of the quarter).

“Ah,” I said, “They asked for it and now they don’t want it.”

“Yep,” he said. “We’re gonna send them a little present.” He sneered on the last word.

I went back to my desk and when I had a minute I checked the order history on the product in question. The orders were booked well in advance (they way we prefer it) and the dates were never changed. No orders had been cancelled (except one that showed out in 2034; some kind of keying error that was quickly cleaned up). I sent the manager an e-mail stating that their had been no date changes or cancellations, including the file which showed it so, and asked who told him there had been.

“They must have cancelled an order they had for this month,” he said. “We didn’t build the tools because we were bored.”

I checked the workorder history. The tools were built in June 2008. I sent him that, too. I did not see any reason to ship the orders and risk someone there complaining (to my boss’s boss) about us helping our numbers at their expense unless I had a good excuse for doing it, which I was not finding.

Today when I came in the orders were already dropped for shipment. I did not get any reply from the manager to my last message. Without indicating I already knew they were out for shipment, I asked him in the morning meeting if he wanted me to call and ask if they would take the shipments early (which I could have offered in the first place, if I thought of it; nothing wrong with asking).

“Nah,” he said, “don’t worry about it.”

Now of course when this manager first explained to me his rationale, he seemed to have a legitimate case (although I didn’t think my boss would agree with his reasoning).  I did not like the way he presented it; I have greatly edited his language down, because he goes enthusiastically and colorfully beyond the casual WTF even before he gets upset. I don’t care for it. It’s not the words, which I have heard enough to be familiar with, but his highly agressive style and attitude toward basically everyone else, whoever the else might happen to be at the moment. To be honest I find it intimidating as well as distasteful. I’m afraid of him; not controlled by fear, but definitely influenced.

If I don’t want to relocate, he’s probably going to be my next boss. The only role in this facility I see that would fit my skills and inclinations reports to him.  And beyond merely his style, he is evidently not interested in responding to my concerns.