In search of what's next

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

It wasn't me.

Did you ever see Disney's movie Rocketman? Great bunch of laughs with a bunch of silliness and slapstick. Not much intellect, just some laughter and a few tears from laughing way too much at the scene where someone's air hose get's cut. Hmm. I'm laughing at someone's misfortunte. How inconsiderate of me.

Well, anyway, if you ever wanted something and then got it only to find yourself in over your head, then this movie is a good one for you. That analogy gives me poetic license to relate this story.

I believe it was 1998. I worked for this large manufacturing corporation. I drove about 75 minutes to work and then home again. (Yep, I guess I was a glutton for punishment. But that's another story, although similarly related.) My boss at the time, who worked in another facility in another state, told me he thought the company was going to close our facility down and that I should begin to make preparations for the worst.

So, I polished up my resume and lo and behold, there appeared an opening in a new facility that the company had just bought almost right along the same path I took to and from work every day and it was 15 min shorter drive. The opening was a sysadmin at this facility which the main responsibility would be to begin incorporation of the company systems and email.

This was a typical small company that pinched pennies in all the wrong places, especially with their computer hardware. To make the story short, thier systems were very unstable. They ran an exchange server on nt4 with everything else on the same server, except for an old novell 3.1 server they did their file directories with and to top it off, they used microsoft's tool to map a drive to the novell server and share that connection. They also ran proxy server on this server, a DOS financial program off the novell server, thru the nt server and some other mixed up things. (Just so the the other IT guy knows, this wasn't his fault. He did the best he could under the circumstances)

The company first wanted me to get them on the corporate WAN and then get the company's home grown ERP system and order processing system on line. That was a joke, as it was written to run on nt4 only and these guys still were running Win95 and a few DOS stations.

So, began the fight with the small company mgmt to spend money on *gasp* hardware. For some reason this was the only corporate buyout where the bigger company didn't immediately dump the local mgmt. Because they didn't, the locals still ran the place as if they owned it. They could not comprehend that the corp std was in place and that's what you bought, not the stripped down crapola from the local discount store.

It had been owned by 4 brothers and several silent partners. The youngest brother was in charge, with the other 3 occupying prominent positions. One brother was my boss, the IT manager. He was a yes man if I ever met one. Whatever the brother in charge said, this guy almost killed me and the other IT guy still there trying to get it done the day before. It was comical to say the least.

These attempts to kill us with impossible projects came between the frequent server crashes, user problems and constant requests from corporate as to why these systems weren't operational yet. It was a zoo.

About 2 months into my new position, we were experiencing one of those in house vacation days (where the boss is off) and things were going fairly smoothly (for a change) and the big boss brother called the IT staff to his office. (me and the other guy)

We had no clue as to what it was about because our boss was out, so we went to see. As soon as we sat down, big little brother commenced into a rather ugly tirade. The bad part was it took me 20 minutes into the tirage to figure out what he was raving about. (He was known for these outbursts, I just had to get my turn I guess)

So, I asked him if I understood him right by acknowledging the fact I didn't carry around a Franklin planner. The tirade started as soon as it stopped for my question, but it had a few yes type comments, so I must've figured it out. I then stopped him again and asked why he thought we needed planners. The tirade began again about how stupid we were and how could we manage to figure out how to do a days work without it.

Well, by now I'd had enough insults. So, I asked as innocently as I could if he was trying to get me to plan for the next server crash so I could give him a courtesy call about 5 minutes ahead of schedule so he could save his letters. (You'd have thought I just had rammed one of the nails in Jesus' hand-because I was just witnessing him getting warmed up).

My collar was starting to get a little damp from steam. I stopped him and stood up. I asked why my boss and/or HR wasn't present for such meeting. I wanted to know exactly what was required for me to make sure this meeting never took place again. Because such behavior is not professional and I'd expect a little better treatment from a vice president and I left.

The next day, my boss brother called me to his office to reprimand me for being rude to the vp. I laughed at him and left his office too.

I don't recommend this type of behavior as an employee of any company, but sometimes you're left with no alternative. My meeting was by no means unique. There was this black guy in the tech service dept that had been sent on a job where things didn't go to plan. I wasn't sure who really screwed up, but the customer was mad and called the vp brother and let him have it. Well, he had to pass it on to the tech guy. During his meeting, the vp called him "boy" a couple of times.

After that, these impromptu meetings declined substantially...not to mention vp brother's employment. Apparently, he and the corporation came to the agreed upon conclusion that the vp brother needed employment somewhere else.

So, after all these problems, I can safely say..It wasn't me.


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