Diary of a paper-based expenses manager

12th Aug 2020
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8.50 am

I’ve decided that this week is going to be great. This girl is developing a positive mental attitude and all that.

Turned up early, started up the PC then went and got tea whilst planning my day.

This is going to be the week where expenses go great and I can put aside some time to finish the training module I have been planning to do.

9.05 am

Brian from sales calls to ask where the payment of his expenses was. I told him I didn’t see his form last week so it didn’t get paid.

Spent half an hour looking through my letter tray to make sure. Nope.

Called Brian back. He told me he thought it was a disgusting way to treat people. I asked if it was perhaps with his manager for authorisation. Told me he was going to give his manager a piece of his mind. I suggested this might not be the best option.

12.30 pm

Tom the receptionist drops by with the biggest pile of envelopes you ever saw. All expenses claims.

I tell him they are supposed to be with me by 10 am. He just stands there and looks at me.

It’s going to take me all afternoon to even open them.

Try to get the intern to help but she’s useless and ends up stacking the forms on one desk and the receipts on another. In an effort to be helpful she’s arranged the receipts in colour order!

Call Learning and Development to get my password reset as it has expired due to non-use.

They are off on a teambuilding trip to Hayling Island.

Decide to put off the training module until tomorrow.


9.10 am

Brian from sales calls, tells me it was a stupid idea of mine for him to tell his manager off about his expenses and that I should stick to adding things up, although apparently, I’m not very good at that.

The cleaners have helpfully moved the receipts off one desk onto another. Just not necessarily in any particular order. I’ll take it up with them tonight.

2.00 pm

Get a chance to open up the training module. 47 PowerPoint slides on data protection. Plus a test.

Close it down.

Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow.

Spend the rest of the day matching receipts to expenses sheets and stapling them together.

Intern asks if she can help. I ask her to go and get me a skinny latte. She comes back 2 hours later with a double chocca mocha and a chocolate muffin the size of a dinner plate.

Finish the muffin. Decide that today is a cheat day on the diet.

5.25 pm

The cleaners are in and I decide to take out my frustrations on them so go to speak to the supervisor who, it turns out, is a rather attractive guy with a lovely accent!

He asks me out on a date.

Wish I hadn’t eaten the muffin.


9.03 am

Brian from sales calls. Have I found his expenses form yet? Nope.

Asks why I am so useless.

Says he doesn’t have money for petrol for the company car. I remind him he’s got a fuel card but he tells me he bent it trying to open the toilet door at a service station. I don’t enquire any further.

Spend the morning wandering around the office delivering expenses forms to managers to get their signatures.

An amazing array of responses which range from people who want you to stand there whilst they go through every line to people who would sign a frog if you put it in front of them.

Brian’s manager asks me if I know anything about a toilet door. Says he’s had the supervisor at Watford Gap shouting at him.

Not the first time apparently. For Brian or Watford Gap.

2.00 pm

Make a start entering the forms I managed to get signed into Excel.

Managed to get at least a third of this week’s expenses done. Not bad for a Wednesday.

Look at the training module and realise that I should really do that.

Decide instead to go online and pick out shoes for my date with Bartosz.

3.05 pm

Intern has accidentally locked herself in the printer room.

We’re not sure how as it doesn’t even have a lock on the door.

Much hilarity.

5.30 pm

The boss calls to ask if I have been rigidly enforcing the new expenses policy that they agreed at last week’s board meeting.

I ask what expenses policy.

He says “Oh. I’ve done it again haven’t I?”

I tell him that we have talked before about telepathy not being the best method of communicating expenses policy changes.

He promises chocolate and I let him off.

I sit back down and go through the claims I have already done. Late-night finish and so the gym will have to wait.


8.55 am

Someone told the intern that ‘Thursday is cosplay day’ and she’s turned up as ‘The bride’ out of Kill Bill.

Admittedly it is the best Kill Bill costume I have ever seen complete with what looks like a real Samurai sword.

We find out it is real when she chops down 6 ceiling tiles and a smoke detector in the lobby.

Postman refuses to enter the building.

9.07 am

Brian calls. Would it be OK for him to expense £70 worth of Stilton cheese and a vet’s bill for a chihuahua?

I ask him why.

He says darkly “there was an incident at a customer’s shop”.

12.14 pm

Two-thirds of the way through the expenses although to be fair it’s the easy bit.

I decide to put off chasing managers for sign-offs until the afternoon when my blood sugar is higher.

Training module glares at me from the desktop. I glare back.

4.15 pm

Really pleased with myself that I now have 90% of the signed expenses forms in and ready to input.

Boss calls and asks if he can have a report on the amount we spend per year on hotel rooms by company, by department and by employee.

I ask where my chocolate is and he hangs up.

Spend the rest of the day typing data into Excel.

5.37 pm

Brian calls to tell me he has found last week’s expenses form and instead of sending it in can I just pay him the money.

I say no.

Brian tells me I am a ‘fascist overseer who is doing the bidding of a repressive capitalist lapdog’.

I consider filing a complaint with HR but they are all away on a teambuilding trip to Margate so they will be well drunk by now.


9.14 am

Courier turns up with Brian’s expenses claim from last week.

Amongst the claims; A dog brush, four bags of BBQ charcoal and a book entitled ‘how to win friends and influence people’.

I call and ask him if he’s read it.

“Nah, haven’t bothered” he says. “You can’t learn anything from books”.

10.30 am

Shoes turn up.

Bit pinchy at the back but looking stunning.

10.45 am

Try to upload the Excel workbook into the general ledger.

Fails twice.

Third time it shuts down the entire system and resets the menus to German.

Call IT

They are away on a teambuilding trip to Shoeburyness.

12.30 pm

System is back up and running and menus are now in Italian.

A very drunk IT support guy tells us that English and Italian share a common Latin root so we should be fine.

Another calls to tell us that it will probably sort itself out later on maybe.

I manage to ‘caricare un file’ and all appears to be well.

I then get a ‘file di esportazione’ ready for import into the bank payments system. Hoping it doesn’t pay people in Euros.

2.13 pm

Brian calls

Do I know anywhere he can buy a garden hoe and a roll of gaffer tape?

I don’t.

2.30 pm

We have a small gathering to say goodbye to the intern. She should have left at 5.30 pm but her manager suggested it was probably best for all concerned if she had the rest of the day off.

I ask what she is going to do next.

She says “I’m going to be the CEO of one of Dad’s companies”. Which I think will work out fine as long as they don’t let her near any sharp objects.

4.30 pm

Decide that I am going to make a to-do list for next week because as we all know, people who make lists get more done.

Spend ten minutes deciding whether I should put the training module on it or not.

Menus in German again.

5.30 pm

Bartosz calls.

Would it be OK if we had a couple of drinks followed by dinner and then a show that one of his friends has got him box seats for?

Oh, go on then.

Maybe it wasn’t such a bad week after all.