Friday, 29 October 2010

My Chair Story, II

I had to go and buy my organization (deep in the bowels of the Pentagon) some chairs.  I admit, we do a lot of sitting, and I was kind of told by the boss that I'd better find real ergonomic chairs that would last ten years.

Our old chairs?  They were $200 type chairs bought almost a decade alo.  They had no ergonomic value, and were in terrible shape the past year or two.  Folks complained about back troubles, their hips, and various ills.  So I went and did my research.  I found the perfect office chair, under a government contract, for $466 each.  It was the Cadillac of office chairs.  It included a ten-year warranty on every piece and part.

I thought this would be simple.  But the boss started with the first issue....two buckets of money.  One was $25k and the other was $116k.  I had to break this into two purchases.

This request did had to route via three different levels of folks to give me permission to move to the contracting group of my organization.  Hour by hour, day by day, and week by week....this went on, and on.  I had roughly six weeks to complete this deal by 1 October.  After that, I lost all the money.

I finally got the two packages through, and hit the contracting officer.  A week later....she informed me that she only had package #1, and that the $25k package rested with another person.

A day later, my gracious contracting lady informed me that since I was over the $100k level....this was a small-business required situation.  My choice for a chair was tossed out.  I was a bit angry, but ok, just get us some good four-star chairs.  Well....only one small-business company bid on the chair choice.  I was shocked.  But here was the thing....while my choice was $466....this new small-business choice....was $560. Roughly a $100 more per chair, and I had no extra funds.  So I decreased my number.

My commander was upset about this....and even more upset when we found out it wasn't a US manufacturing company....but a Canadian company.  We wanted to cancel....but ended up in the corner.

Then the shock came....my choice for the $25k deal?  Fully accepted and no issues.

Weeks passed, and all the chairs came this week.  Frankly, I was mildly disenchanted with the $560 chairs. First, each box must have weighed eighty pounds.  Then you had to put them together....three pieces to each chair.  But they do sit well, and I can accept them.

The curious thing came yesterday....my only customer with a complaint.  Two hundred and forty-odd chairs total....one person complaining.  First, he observed they were not made with recycled materials (he wasn't joking...he was totally serious).  Second, they weren't fire-retardant.  Yep, neither chair was qualified for that....but frankly, being a guy from Bama.....fire-retardant nature isn't on my top three hundred priorities.

I have vowed now....never to buy another chair for this organization.  I'll have to leave if this issue comes up again.

Pretty Versus Lusty Versus Buffalo-look

The Buffalo News kinda of reported this today....teachers from Buffalo...for 2009....used up $9 million worth of taxpayer-covered cosmetic surgery.  You have to understand....this deal is all part of their teacher contract deal with the local area.  To also be honest....it amounts to something like nine percent of the district's spending on care for employees or retirees in the teacher system.

There's alot you can say over this.  I paused and pondered upon this picture.  Down in Bama, we just don't have this kind of benefit in full view of teachers.  To be honest, even if you offered up some kind of plastic surgery deal...other than boob jobs....most Bama teachers would likely never ask for a deal like this.

Another side to this story though....my humble opinion.....is that maybe teachers up in Buffalo need the plastic surgery because of their looks.  Maybe down in Bama....folks are blessed for looking cute and manly....in a purely natural sort of way.  A guy might put on a fresh pair of Hanes underwear and feel sharp.  A Bama gal might put on a bit of lipstick, some cheap perfume (Secret Obsession for $2.49 by Amazon), and some $9 shoes from Walgreens (the cheap stuff they have by the counter) made in Peru....and she'd be hot by Bama standards.

The Buffalo teacher folks probably fret a bit about their looks....hoping that a handsome guy or some hunk of woman will stop by and admire them for ten minutes.

Course, the other possibility is that some Bama family has moved into Buffalo and some Bama kid made the comment to a couple of teachers that they don't match up to Bama teacher beauty, and this upset the sensitivity of the teachers to demand this package in their job situation.

The good side of this is that Pentagon never offered me any plastic surgery deals when they hired me up.  It'd just be wasted money as far as I was concerned.