Category Archives: Work

A Letter To A Former Co-Worker: Quitting Ain’t Easy

Because I want people to know that I’m still sensitive to the plight of the corporate drone, I sent this e-mail to a former co-worker who is dealing with the realities of corporate life. I wanted him to know that even though it seems pimptastic, life on the outside ain’t all bitches and Hennessey.

Dear XXXXXXX,

I heard things are tough around there, but life within the corporate fortress can’t be as bad as it is out here.

Since I quit, I have absolutely no structure because there’s no one here to tell me what to do. Do you think it’s easy to think of things to do on my own? If it was summer, I’d just go to the beach, but it’s the dead of winter, bro. What do I do inside? Read a book? Write? E-mail people? Surf the web? Sip my coffee and ponder the universe like some unemployed Carl Sagan wannabe?

I have no idea because there’s no one here to tell me.
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How’s Work Going?

After a moment of reminiscing about the robotic anonymity of my old grey cube, I felt a little guilty that you had to be in that office while I sat out in my beach chair. Although I can’t join you in fluorescence, I thought I’d join you in spirit.

How's Work?

Shadow Boss!

Shadow Boss!

Shadow Boss!

Life is Slipping Away...

I wish I had tacked up a TPS report to the wall of my virtual cube, but I just don’t have the skills.

One of Pete’s Last Posts

Last week, while I was standing around talking to Sneezy P, a coworker called him over to his desk. The coworker saw him approaching and turned away to face his monitor. Pete walked up behind him, cracked open the guy’s brand new vitamin water and took a long swig of it. I think I actually saw a glimmer of pride cross his face after the initial swig, because the guy still hadn’t even noticed. He then made the fatal mistake of looking over at a coworker and me who had been watching the whole scenario.

My jaw must’ve been on the floor, because when he caught my expression, he burst out laughing and spit the drink all over the place, erupting into a high pitched laugh that disturbed all conference calls within thirty feet.

The real beauty of the situation was that the guy who owned the drink barely even turned around while saying, “I do not want that back.”

Unless I take up the suggestions of “babysitting” or “volunteering with old people”, I can’t see situations like this ever recurring in my professional life.

And that, my friends, is a damned shame.

Resignation II: Electric Boogaloo

Since I announced my resignation, I’ve been pretty surprised by the number of people who seem disappointed that I’m leaving or that have offered to help place me in their groups. Some congratulate me like I’m being paroled. Some asked for a job when I land. Others echo my feelings of having no possibility of advancement.

In general, most seem to be shocked that I’m leaving, and even a little dismayed when they find out that even though there isn’t a person with my particular skill set available in the entire company, there hasn’t been any real attempt to retain me. There are stunned silences or head shakes, which shouldn’t feel good, but do.

That’s not to say that I’m the least bit bitter, though. I resigned in a good space. I liked both my job and the people that I had the opportunity to work with. I worked in the same tight knit area for ten years, which is unheard of in today’s job market. Somehow I’ve been lucky enough to work with bright, hard-working folks who do more with less every day, and I would recommend them in a second. I want them all to succeed, but the opportunity just hasn’t been there for any of us. The guys with the ties get the prize, while the people who work for a living usually end up with more work.

I’m not a class warrior, and I don’t have that “they’ll fail without me” attitude. I’m doing the best I can to ensure that they can absorb my responsibilities because I want them all to succeed after I’m gone. Hell, I hope management throws money and promotions at them to stem the outgoing tide because I think they all deserve it for all the years of unsung effort and inspired solutions that they’ve come up with to keep things secure and running smoothly.

Unfortunately, as much as I will root for the underdog, I just don’t think that there’s a very large chance of that happening.

I’m the fourth person in the last month or so to leave my group, and the word on the street is that I won’t be the last. When considering the talent and high caliber of people that I have had the opportunity to work with, I find myself feeling bad that they can’t all join me on the beach this summer. And I feel worse that any of them should feel the need to leave at all.

Even though I’m excited to move on, I’m finding that there is a little more to leaving behind a group of people that I’ve seen every day for over a decade.

End of an Era

Over the last decade, I built and ran a virus protection system for nearly 20,000 servers and desktops on a global scale for my company. Unfortunately, I just got to the point where no matter how perfect or expansive I made the system, no one cared. And that’s motivationally crippling.

So, I resigned.

Coincidentally, it was also Mr. T’s birthday.

My resignation has been a pretty big shock to everyone, and in two days I’ve gotten two unprompted recommendations, two job offers in foreign countries, and a lot of people worldwide who seem to genuinely think it’s a loss for the company.

And the people here are the reason that I’m going to miss this place.

My favorite quotes in the last couple of days have been:

“You’ll be surprised at how much time doing nothing takes up.”

“Who am I going to race to work now?”

“They should offer you anything you want to get you to stay.”

“Don’t do this to me.”

“Congratulations. Do you have a job for me?”

“You don’t have a full time job lined up? You’re a nut. You did it kamakaze style, and I wouldn’t expect anything less.”

“You’re like Jerry Macguire. Inside everyone’s giving you the slow clap, but no one is going with you. You’re just going to walk out of here with your goldfish.”

“Call me and tell me if Vista runs on Nantasket.”

Business Phone Etiquette

Upon getting a phone call from a coworker in another department…

Me: What’s up, dude?
Him: Um, I don’t think that’s the proper way to answer a business phone.
Me: You’re right. Let me try again… [click]

[Phone rings again]

Me: What’s up, dudeness?
Him: That’s more like it.

Make That 101 Points

When I arrived at work this morning, I got a Vulcan salute and this:

“You know, technically, Kirk would never have touched a communicator on his chest. Those are from the later generations. He would say, [flips Nextel open like a communicator] ‘Kirk to Enterprise’…hey, you’re not writing this down, are you?”

Yes. Yes, I was. People need to know about this.

Why I Liked Today In 100 Easy points

0. We Encourage Productive Discussion
Agreed Upon at lunch: “Death metal is categorized by vocal style rather than subject matter, making Shadows Fall death metal but Slayer plain metal. It is undetermined whether Black Sabbath is or is not be metal, but it is agreed that they shall be honorarily grandfathered in to the category. Anthrax is metal, and Metallica used to be, but is not anymore. It is agreed that Van Halen is definitely not Heavy metal: They are hard rock at best, and maybe just plain rock.”

1. We Have Productive Meetings
Said to me: “[Employee #3225582] swears he’s going to get you into our weekly battlefield 1942 game one of these days…”

10. We Share Available Resources
“What are you doing down here?”
“We’re here to play in the test forest.”
“I see. Be you in need of a cloak?”
“Of invisibility? Yes. Have you any swords that are +2 against ogres?”
“Nay”
“[Group] Awww.”

11. We Share a Common Customs
If given a bluetooth headset (example), co-workers will agree that talking on the phone without wires is theoretically cool. Unfortunately, half will, without thinking put their hands to their ears like Uhura and say, “Sir, the Romulans are attacking,” during their first use. Only 50% will come up with the correct response of immediately putting the device on their chest, tapping it, and saying “Kirk to Enterprise. 2 to beam up.”

100. We Are Courteous to Others
If I happen to abandon my usual “So long, Suckers!” by silently walking out the door giving a Vulcan salute, it is met with returned salutes and “Live long and prosper,” rather than confused looks and “Nanoo Nanoo, Mork.”

(Note: I know that you think that I should’ve written 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in binary as 1,10,11,100, 101, but any good Perl dork will tell you that the 1st element in a list is, by default, element 0. No, I’m not kidding.)

Dorf on Fashion*

Co-Worker: [Looking at my shirt] What, did you just buy all the primary colors? Or did you branch into the secondaries, too?
Me: Only the primaries, I think.
Co-Worker: They do make shirts in patterns other than solid, you know.
Me: Not for me they don’t. Solid pants, solid shirts, monkey to monkey, giraffe to giraffe, less thinking, less mistakes.
Co-Worker: You know the next step is a closet full of all black pants and all white shirts…
Me: …a row of skinny ties, and a shotgun. I know.

*I refuse to explain Dorf references citing concerns that someone may bring that piece of crappy pop culture back from the dead.

Quick Question

If I requested a machine name from someone to update their PC, and they reply with “CAPTAINARCHER,” who is the bigger nerd:

  1. Him, for naming it after a Star Trek captain,
  2. Me, for recognizing it and replying “warp drives are operational” after the install,
  3. Or My Co-workers for not only recognizing the name, but scoffing at it for not being named after a captain from one of the good Star Trek series.

For the Geekily challenged: Captain Archer bio from StarTrek.com

7:02

At work, we’re fortunate enough to have a courtyard that holds a 15 foot pyramidal fountain and a reflecting pool. Due to cost cutting measures, the fountain had been shut off for the last few years. This year, the fountain was turned on again, and has made an immense difference in the quality of the atmosphere around here.

On my way to my desk a couple of weeks ago, I turned and happened to see the first drops flowing down the pyramid, freezing the scene as a moment in my mind. I looked down at my watch and noted that it was 7:02. So last week, I came in a few minutes early, walked into the courtyard and waited for the moment to repeat itself.

The courtyard is dead quiet before the fountain goes on. There are no birds due to the plastic owls perched five stories above, and even though we are in the middle of a city, you can’t hear the traffic on the street. Generally, there are very few smokers out there at that time of the morning, and even if there are, the silence weighs on everyone out there. It’s like a theater or a library. There isn’t really any noise because the place itself is keeping you quiet.

Like clockwork, at 7:01, the pyramid started to rumble and fill. By 7:02, the first water spilled down the sides, and the sounds of rushing water filled the courtyard. At that point, the courtyard transformed from silent to serene.

Even though I look like an idiot out there, staring at the fountain and looking at my phone, having no excuse to smoke to keep me out there, it’s a simple moment to look forward to.

Only Geeks

Coworker 1: Breakfast? It’s Thurday, but the caf has no waffles.
Jon: if (($day eq ‘Thursday) && ($waffles==0)){ print “Nah, thanks.”;}
Coworker 1: Oh God he’s speaking in Perl again.
Coworker 2: Actually, that could be any structured [programming] lanuguage…

Note: after publishing this, I found a perl error and republished. Send Help.