[Thread Game] Stories from Work

This is also exactly why I hated grades on a curve. Yes, let's reward those people who struggle but finally managed to make some meaningful progress with a big fat F.

I've almost never seen grades on a curve bottom out at anything lower than a C, unless someone flat out did nothing.
I was reminded of a fun day I had at a job once:

I was working in the oil fields in the summer to pay for college. There was a weird atmospheric phenomenon where our East Texas pipeline company's radio cross talked with a NYC cab company.
Holy Shit! it was hilarious with Bronx accents and Hard Southern accents trying to talk over one another.
One cabby screamed out, "I'll answer you when we get these damned Hillbillies off the radio!"
Our secretary piped in, "Hunny we ain't Hillbillies, we're Red Necks!"
I once took a job at a company, but before I started, the guy that hired me quit.

The new guy I was going to report to had no vision, and had no idea what to do with a computer programmer, so he put me in the tech support department--which I absolutely didn't want to do. He was also a micromanaging dick.

So, at 6 months, I found another job, and figured I could play off the short stay as contract work if it ever came up in an interview.

This is the kind of dick that guy was...when I came in to give notice, he didn't even say anything. Not one word. He just got up and walked over to the filing cabinet and pulled out my file (I had a file?) flipped through it and finally said "No employment contract. I guess I can't sue you for quitting."

So, he tells me that if I don't write a resignation letter that says I'm leaving for a better opportunity, more money, etc, and that emphases how it had nothing to do with him or his leadership, he was going to block my final check. I know he can't do that under Texas law, but sensing an opportunity, I write the letter anyway.

A full page--12 lines of text. He reads it and approves of it. When I handed it into HR, they were surprised I'd written so much and had such glowing praise. I told them "read the first letter of every line" on my way out the door. When viewed that way, the letter read: "Chuck is a dick."
I have another story about the tech company I previously worked as a technical writer at.

The seats at this company were arranged in rows, in which desks would face each other. Sort of like this, except without the dividers:


Directly across from me sat two ladies in the sales department, "Cindy" and "Dana". They'd both worked there for a few years, and being in the same department they often worked closely with each other, and apparently they got along very well. This meant that they would often chat and joke with each other, and sitting directly across from them I'd be able to hear everything.

Now, Cindy and Dana were both young and very attractive women. However, Dana was the one who'd generally be considered a bombshell. Tall, great figure, beautiful face, and a fashion sense that allowed her to show off her assets. Since she sat directly across from me, this meant she was actually very distracting at times. Especially when she got a cup of bubble tea. Imagine trying to work while a beautiful woman sitting across from you is thoughtfully sucking on an oversized straw.

But this story is about a more specific incident. For several days or weeks, I could hear Cindy and Dana making noises about asking their boss, "Ed", the head of the sales department, for a raise. Ed had his own office, so he couldn't hear what Cindy and Dana were plotting. Apparently their plan was for one of them to get a raise first, and then the other one would go ask Ed for a raise to match the other person's new salary. Seemed like a solid plan, but the question was how they would get that first raise from Ed. So Dana said to Cindy, "I know, I'll wear... it."

I found out what it was the next day, when Cindy and Dana arrived at work, and Cindy asked, "So, are you wearing it?" And Dana removed her jacket to reveal an absolutely incredible top. It was tight, form-fitting, and low-cut, but more importantly it was blindingly fluorescent yellow, apart from the chest region, which was blindingly fluorescent pink. In other words, the bright yellow color meant that your eyes were drawn to her to start with, and then the bright pink color meant that your gaze would then head towards her chest area, which then meant your sight line would be caught by her decolletage and basically be trapped there forever. I'm pretty sure I heard my jaw bounce off the floor when I saw what she was wearing.

So Dana went into Ed's office, and about five minutes later she came out beaming and nodded at Cindy.

I got no work done that day.
At the previous school district I worked for, we had Dell laptops that we gave out to all of the students. They had some design flaws that meant we had a ton of issues keeping those laptops working. Stupid things like the screws would fall out of the bottom of the device (screw holes were aluminum while the screws were steel, aluminum heats up and expands faster than steel, so they'd just work themselves out over time).

We had a Dell rep come by with a new laptop design he was showing off, wanting us to buy it. Our Acquisitions person at the time, Chris, was allowed to handle it while the rep was going on about all the new features. Chris pinched the corner of the screen and was able to peel it back and completely off of the device in one swift motion. The rep stuttered for a bit and then exclaimed, "You can't do that! It's a prototype!" To which Chris calmly replied, "Do you really think our kids won't try to do that or worse? Fix it and then maybe we'll talk."

We did not buy the new design.
I don't think this is as universal a problem as you think it is
This reminds me of a story.
I once worked with a lady that liked to wear very low cut blouses. One day she leaned way over to get something off my desk and I hadda go "Whoa...be careful there. I want to be respectful and all, but in the words of Russel Brand: 'I'm a man. I have instincts.' I can see everythng."
So a little while back we had a lady come in for an interview for a position in my department. There were three people in the interview: me, my higher-up, and my higher-up's higher-up. The lady was very suited to the position she was interviewing for, in fact I'd already decided to hire her pretty much off her resume alone. She also impressed in the interview, so afterwards the two higher-ups and me pretty much just nodded at each other and said, "Yeah, let's hire her." And then we went off to start excitedly planning what cases we'd assign her as soon as she started working here.

Three weeks later, our HR person messaged us. "Hey, the lady who came in for an interview just called, she was wondering if there was any follow-up?"

And the three of us sort of collectively facepalmed and went, "Okay, so none of us remembered to notify HR or the new hire that she'd passed the interview."

So we told HR to get back to her on the double, and fortunately she was still available to work for us, so it all worked out in the end. Well, apart from her leaving the company after just a couple of months.
I was out of work for 3 years (except some occasional short-term contract work that mostly served to reset the clock on the unemployment benefits) after the tech bubble burst.

In 2003, Citibank offered me a job. They called me on a Friday, and asked me if I could start on Monday. "Absolutely." I say.

I was living in Houston at the time. Citibank's tech site was in Irving, 250 miles away. So, I get up at 4am on Monday, drive to Irving, do my first day on the job, and then immediately check into a long-term hotel. That hotel would be my home for 6 weeks until I could rent a house and get the rest of my family moved up.

I really enjoyed the job, and enjoyed the people, but quit after less than two years. They hired a new CIO, Mitchell Habib. He had just come from GE, where he saved the company a ton of money by outsourcing everything overseas. He promised he wasn't a "one trick pony" and that he wasn't coming to Citi to do the same thing--but, within a few months he instituted monthly staff ranking. The bottom X people on a team every month would be let go, and replaced by--you guessed it--offshore workers from India.

One one hand, this ranking can sound reasonable. Sure, every team has slackers, and getting rid of them can strengthen the team. But in practice, it sucks. It's political. You may be the best developer in the world, but if you piss the wrong person off at the wrong time, bam, bottom of the list. And it's stupid. If you have a team of 5, and all 5 are amazing, why should you be forced to fire the least amazing person to be replaced by offshore?

So, me and a couple other older guys saw the writing on the wall and got out of there ASAP. Everyone told me I was crazy, because I consistently scored at the top of the rankings. But I didn't want to work in that kind of environment...and no matter how good you are, eventually, the job is going overseas. Eventually the layoffs got more aggressive.

I can't find anything more substantive, but I remember at the time reading some articles that the board was upset that Habib had destroyed the corporate culture in IT, and that the speed and quality of software releases had gone down dramatically. But that's just my memory. I wish I could find one of those articles now.

He ended up an Neilsen...and you guessed it. One-trick-ponied up the outsourcing.

It still grinds my gears that this guy makes millions doing this.
Dilbert today perfectly sums up how I feel about stacked ranking assessments.

Time to tell you all about Tom.

Working phone support like I did for a while, you tend to lead a sedentary lifestyle. I gained quite a bit of weight myself in my 8 years doing that. There were guys who had been doing that job for 20 or 30 years working at that site. Most of them hit some sort of equilibrium between weight and excercise to keep themselves in shape. Then there was Tom.

Tom is the single largest person I have ever seen. The hallways around the office were designed generally for two people to be able to pass each other by turning slightly, about a person and a half. Not if Tom was coming, though. He brushed both sides of the walls. You just had to get out of his way. You ducked into a cubicle or turned around because it was too hard for him to change direction. In the bathrooms, you could tell which stalls were the ones Tom used because the walls bowed outward.

It was in the bathroom that one of my colleagues reported that he had entered the bathroom for a quick pee. He saw Tom come out of a stall. He put his hands on the counter and just breathed heavily for a bit. A bit later as my friend was finishing, Tom picked himself up and went back in the stall. He had to take a break. FROM POOPING. He was pooping so hard, he had to stop, leave the stall, catch his breath, and then go back in.

Another time, I was in the bathroom, just washing my hands before returning to my desk when the door opened and in lumbered Tom. His breathing was heavy and he was sweating a bit. As he walked past me I heard him under his breath say "Oh dear..."

I have never run faster in my life.
Another time, I was in the bathroom, just washing my hands before returning to my desk when the door opened and in lumbered Tom. His breathing was heavy and he was sweating a bit. As he walked past me I heard him under his breath say "Oh dear..."
That's when people leave work on a gurney or in a body bag. :Leyla: