Monday, January 22, 2007

I Did It

What does this horde of slaves, traitors, and plotting kings want? For whom these vile chains, these long-prepared irons? What outrage, what fury it must arouse! It is us they dare plan to return to the old slavery!
~first verse of La Marseillaise

I resigned from my highest-paying gig, ever: subcontractor to a multinational outsourcer and offshorer. I was already withering from the hostile environment, commuting downtown sucks asphalt, and the last straw was the latest issue of their corporate magazine which appeared in my cubicle last week, with the cover story,
Stepping Up To The IED Challenge. Complete with flaming, melted wreckage of a Humvee.

Hey, I am all about fostering culture.
Healthy culture. If someone else wants to include chants of HOO-AH in their definition and purveyance of culture, my recommendation is "Go for it," followed smartly by, "and include me out."

As much as I'd like to be thought of as the kind of person who simply departs upon discovering a moral mismatch, I must say that I have another situation lined up. I was more than a little amazed at how quickly I found it, but it bears disclosing that I didn't resign until I found another place to land. Ontology suggests that I got another job quickly because I'd already decided to leave. My dad once advised me never to quit without first having something else arranged. I'd always wondered about that period from my childhood when he sold the house and took that weird job selling lingerie. But, I digress.

"Hostile environment" goes beyond the exploitatively ugly photo on the magazine. Despite being very well compensated, and sharpening my clustering chops , there's the stench of despair in the air, and arrogance in the spoken words. I still find it amusing that the outsourcer taking over Truly Believes that they can do the job remotely, with low-skills, low-paid bodies onsite. Not that I think this isn't possible; heck, I just completed an engagement with a behemoth mutual funds trader to design a "lights out" data center, ostensibly for disaster recovery. I wish I'd thought to take photos of the full-time employees as they found out that it was actually a proof-of-concept to outsource--and offshore their jobs. Oh, wait, I left the moment that I learned that this was the real plan, all along. After securing another situation first, of course. It's more accurate to say that I decided to leave when I realized, and yeah, I kept at it. For the money.

The hostility in my current work environment is from the full-time employees of the firm, the one who's switching IT service providers to save money. They're in big trouble, and bless their hearts, they really believe that it's all Someone Else's Fault. They remind me of Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove, riding the atomic bomb, yelling, "Yee-hahhhhhh...." all the way down to global destruction.

IT service providers. WTF is that, other than the commodification of yet another industry? It's so slick, without being glossy. Slimy. It makes it sound like me trying to switch electric utilities to save money, and hopefully to be treated like a customer. Reality check: It's the method for devaluing the individual, in order to scale down pay rates.

The corporate magazine photo was merely the last straw. Aside from the reactiveness of the team I've joined, there are these impromptu meetings: Someone walks up to where I'm sitting--working--and interrupts without so much as a salutation:
We need you in conference room Bravo right away. Sometimes they actually say, "Double time!" That's actually not so bad. I have military experience, it's a little nostalgic sometimes, but mostly it lands as invalidating and degrading. Well, of course I go to the conference room, where FTEs have had a meeting which was scheduled in advance, with the topic(s) made available to attendees ahead of time. They've made up their minds, and what they really want to do is to bully me into implementing some half-baked plan. The kind that indicates a severe lack of planning. There are sketches on the whiteboard, and these are waved at and occasionally elaborated upon. In at least 25% of the cases, the diagrams get significant additions as I watch.

Then comes the moment where the newly-hatched scheme has been communicated as much as it's going to be at that time, and I'm expected to agree. Silly me, I almost always think it's the time for me to share my expert opinion and/or experience. The same people become impatient--angrily impatient--before I can explain how the plan could actually work, because they realize that I'm about to recommend changing their plan. They raise their voices, they pound on the table, and sometimes they actually rant and rave in the same fashion as my 8-year-old son when he doesn't get his way.

After
N repeats of this in N weeks, I was already ready to move on. Then I'd get another paycheck and think, Damn, that's a lot of money. Suddenly the chronic headaches and stiff muscles seemed somehow worth it.

How did I miss that this corporation is a war profiteer? All I could remember about them was that time they brought down the dot-com domain, didn't realize it for eight hours, then tried to cover it up. If you can find anything online about this mid-Nineties debacle, please post or forward. I'm pretty good at finding text on the net, and I've just about concluded that it's all been expunged somehow. Except for the essays and interviews, of course--just no hard news to be found, any more.

I'm going to work for a much smaller concern, for a little less money and a few actual perquisites beyond free coffee, tea, and refrigerator space (cleaned out every Friday). I get to work next to someone I've worked with before, someone I admire for his honesty and straight talk.

I'll do another seven business days here, I'll do this one last trivial project which has been blown out of proportion without reasonable communication or a written plan, and then I'll whistle--no,
sing La Marseillaise on the way out.

3 comments:

Sheik Yerbouti said...

How fitting that you discovered CheeseburgerBrown just in time to accent your departure!

Tough choice. I'd probably be scrambling for the door myself.

Adonis said...

Hi there, I just read your comment on this blog entry: http://www.oreillynet.com/xml/blog/2007/01/an_interesting_offer.html

and all I can say is: WOW
You expressed my thoughts in absolute duplicity!

Adorable Girlfriend said...

Fish sent me over here...

I am really proud of you. I once left a job because they were doing something unethical to patients. I told them it wasn't right (after I packed up my office during the holiday luncheon I did not attend) and promptly walked out the door.

I still love my old clients sending e-mails saying how bad the place is since I left and that the drug products will never be approved.