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September 17, 2007

Now I Give Them A Stand-Up Routine In F-L-A.

I had a horrible fucking nightmare last night. Well, I guess technically it was this morning since the clock read 3:42AM when I woke up in a sweat. My pulse was racing, and I had a knot in my stomach. It was one of those dreams so horrible that the instant you come awake, the sudden realization that it was all just a bad dream mercifully washes over you like warm bathwater. As I lay there licking my lips and trying to get my heart to slow down, my mind devoured all the promise and opportunity of reality. What dream was so terrible as to keep your favorite webmaster up for another thirty minutes before drifting back to sleep?

I dreamed I had my old job back.

As I'm sure my loyal readers are aware, I have never spoken about my employment, former or present. I always thought it was bad form. Mainly because I was doing most of my site updates from work, HAHAHAHAHA. But seriously. I am what you call a nerd. Admittedly not as much of a nerd as I was say, ten years ago, but still a nerd none the less. When I was in the (Ch)Air Force, I was your friendly neighborhood IT guy. I fixed computers. I fixed user accounts. I helped my users with spreadsheets and presentations. I fixed their home computers on occasion. And I read their email quite often. That's what IT guys do. When I left the blue suit and ventured out into the civilian world, my first position was for a company called Frederick Computers Plus. Despite being a relatively small company -- less than 100 employees -- as nerd jobs go it was a pretty kick ass. Companies would contract us to provide the next tier of support to their in-house IT guys. We were billed as the, "Help Desk to Help Desks." The only higher level of support you could get was go right to the software vendor themselves. Our level of customer satisfaction was in the 98% percentile - placing us above such big names as IBM, Microsoft, Sun, Cisco. Very uber-nerdy, and the job treated me very well for several years. Well, as is a too-common thing here in America, this small mom and pop shop was bought out by a bigger company, called Entex Information Services. I feel comfortable giving both these company names, as both no longer exist. Anyway, as anyone who has worked for a smaller company will tell you, that lots of changes take place when such a takeover happens. More bad than good, unfortunately. More rules, more paperwork, more managers. Less benefits, less opportunities, and less comaraderie. It wasn't all bad; I learned a lot and made some friends I still have today. But when they moved the office to some 60 miles from my house, being able to play Quake at work just didn't seem as shiny, and nature took its course.

That 'Help Desk to Help Desk' position gave way to my most former place of employment. I was still doing customer support, but this time at the vendor level. And what did the Greatest Webmaster Of All Time support? Voicemail. That's right. Voicemail. I went from supporting the networks of Fortune 100 companies to, "My voicemail doesn't work." It was a tough change to make because I had a very difficult time understanding the sense of urgency. I could hear the words coming out of the customers' mouths, I just didn't understand them. Let me explain. A good portion of you are at work right now. If your entire network went down, the place would be thrown into a panic, am I right? No email, no orders, no video conferencing, no secure transactions, no internet commerce, no nothing. The world would just about end, yes? (Well, the work world anyway. Me personally, I'd go beat off.) But instead of the network, what if I told you that just your voicemail went down. Meaning you your phone still worked -- you could still make and receive phone calls -- you just couldn't could send or receive voicemail. Thus if someone called you, your phone would ring its designated 3-4 times and then that caller would be sent off to never-never land. So... they'd have to call back. Wow. Big whoop. So ask yourself: Is that really a show stopper? Is that really worth paging a half a dozen people and setting up big ass conference calls at 3am? I just couldn't grasp the concept. I mean the temporary work around is so simple: just call the fuck back.

Anyway, I played the voicemail game for a lot longer than I would have expected myself to last. Almost six years. At the end I would have to say my most prevalent emotion towards work was apathy. I just didn't care. And no disrespect to my formers customers, many of whom read EHOWA. I liked all you guys. I really did. And if you called me up to instead shoot the shit about the Sox game, or your new roof, or your kid's little league game, or what barbeque place just opened up near your office... I'd have been all ears. But I reached a point that if a customer called up and reported an entire platform down, while I might have outwardly reacted with a feigned sense of urgency, inside I just wanted to blow my fucking brains out. As soon as the word 'voicemail' came through the earpiece, my eyes glazed over and I silently prayed for the ceiling to collapse on my head. I would have cared more if you told me the mayonaise on your sandwich made the bread soggy, than if your entire voicemail platform wasn't taking any calls. I'm sorry. That's just the way it was. I don't know if I was burned out from just voicemail, or burned out from customer support as a whole. All I do know is, I just didn't care anymore. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't care.

This monotony and pain droned on for about a year or so. It was further exasperated by events at work; watching friends and good people get laid off while the office cockroaches lived on. Budget cutbacks. Dickface boss after dickface boss. Watching your CEO fuck everyone over and give himself a $600k bonus, while you were handed a new shirt embroidered with the company logo. While I was being compensated very well, I hated my fucking job. Each morning as I arrived to work, I would turn my car off and sit there for a minute, steeling myself up to go into the office. Each morning I would say aloud to my steering wheel, "I hate this fucking job," before pulling the door handle and pushing the door open with my shoulder. I was dying inside. At some point I sat back and took stock in all of this and realized I had to make a decision. So I either had to make a quality of life change, or shut the fuck up and quit bitching. And believe it or not, it wasn't an easy decision to make. No matter how unhappy you are with it, walking away from the relative safety of a well paying job with decent benefits is harder than you might think. I could argue a hundred reasons to stay and a hundred reasons to leave.

But in the end it all came down to this. I knew things weren't going to get any better. Management recognized that morale was in the toilet, and just didn't give a fuck. Countless suggestions were either ignored or implemented in such an incompetent way as to render them utterly useless. An outside consultant likened management's actions to, "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." And to add just a bit of spice to it, the new guy they just hired to be our direct boss was a complete fucking asshole. In fact, in one of our final meeting brokered by HR, I told him just that to his face. I had to fight back against The Man.

And thus to quoth the Speedwagon, "I believe it's time for me to fly." I decided to live the American dream. To tell my boss to kiss my fucking ass, move someplace warm, and seek my fortune in the world. Knock on wood, I haven't looked back since.

Some final thoughts before I sign off for today. What's the company in question? While I'm still not fomfortable saying so outright, just do a Google search for "ceo stock option fraud fighting extradition from namibia" and you'll get a pretty good idea. And the cum guzzling stick-up-his-ass dickface boss I got into it with? Laid off a few months ago. Good, fuck him. He can kiss my balls. I hope his ears are filled with the cries of his hungry children.


ERNIE CAM

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