Although my job description entails accounting and bookkeeping in the fiscal department of a furniture company, I am frequently approached by my boss to do some of his personal secretarial tasks. Over the years he has come to trust my knowledge and professionalism, and by default, out of all the employees in the company, I am the go-to person when the need arises. This time he asked me to book tickets to China for an upcoming trade show as well as to arrange lodging and car rental.
My husband is in the travel business, so I learned a lot about the airline industry by osmosis. Sometimes I do the booking by myself, especially if it’s a domestic flight. This time, however, I sent an email to my husband with the dates and preferred times. Later that day I received an email from my husband with a round trip itinerary from EWR (Newark) to PVG (Shanghai). I forwarded the email to my boss for review, to which he promptly replied “Please book, thank you.” I was relieved that it was taken care of and confident that he was satisfied with his travel arrangements. I booked a room in the Hilton for the week. I also did some research on the destination to find the closest Chabad House with a minyan and kosher food. I then printed directions on Google Maps from the hotel to the Chabad House, as well as his schedule of business meetings. I like to go that extra mile when given tasks, and I do it with pride and dedication.
Everything was set. My boss was ready to go. As soon as he walked out with his attache case, the employees all relaxed. He runs a tight ship and expects everyone to be very punctual and serious about their duties in a sort of tense manner. One week of less pressure is definitely a reason to celebrate. Not that we actually party or fail to do our work, it’s just that we take longer coffee breaks or schmooze more than we usually do.
The week our boss was away was uneventful, if a little too short in my workmates’ opinions.
Two hours before his return flight I received a call from my boss.
“Mrs. Friedman?” he inquired after I answered the phone.
“Yes,” I responded hesitantly.
“I’m here at the checkout counter. The agent reviewed my documents. It seems you booked a flight for tomorrow instead of for today?” He sounded desperate.
“Ummm,” I mumbled. I was standing right next to my husband. He was working on the laptop, and I whispered to him that my boss is on the phone and that I think we booked the wrong date. He made a strange face and said, “Tell your boss that you’re going to call him right back.”