The Job Experience, IT Plumbing: Year #6

Changes. Big changes.

I'll do whatever you say, Mr. Cthulu

I’ll do whatever you say, Mr. Cthulu

Before I launch into a description of the new year, it’s worthwhile to summarize how I felt about my year 1 experience with FinancialCompany.

It wasn’t easy.  I put in a lot of extra hours to get up to speed and become a reliable member of my team. But at the same time, I thought the trade was generally fair:  I was paid a lot of money, and in return I gave the job most of the life energy I had available. My first year manager respected me and was appreciative of my efforts and contributions.

In short, I wasn’t upset or bitter about the job at that point.  It was exhausting, but represented a means to an end.  My thinking was along the lines of:  It’s OK.  I’ll be FI soon enough. 

When Cthulhu took the reins of our team, everything changed.


The day following the reorg announcement, Cthulhu calls an 8AM team meeting.

Team assembled, we sit down and watch our mighty overlord strut in a custom fitted suit back and forth in front of a whiteboard.  He introduces himself and asks why we think we have a new manager.

We have no idea.  There’s silence in the room.

YOU ARE ALL NOT MEETING EXPECTATIONS I’M HERE TO WHIP THIS TEAM INTO SHAPE

His voice is emotionless, completely devoid of intonation.  If you went by the content alone, you’d think he was angry, but his voice doesn’t sound upset.  It sounds like someone mixed human vocal output with a foghorn.  Us muppets are completely speechless.

PERFORMANCE MUST BE IMPROVED NOW THAT I AM IN CHARGE THERE WILL BE CHANGES

Huh?  Was there something wrong with what we were doing the year before?  This is the question we all want to ask but it sticks in our throats.  We’re so shocked at the outwardly aggressive behavior of this guy that none of us can push any words out.

CHANGES BIG CHANGES FAILURE TO COMPLY WILL RESULT IN CONSEQUENCES

Cthulhu spends the next twenty minutes informing us of the following:

  • We now have biweekly team meetings.  Monday @9AM,  Thursday@noon.  There is no mention of lunchtime being overbooked.  Of course there isn’t. Cthulhu knows not of human frailty.
  • We are on strict availability rotations.
  • We have weekly individual 1:1s
  • Our quarterly objectives (known as MBOs, or Management-By-Objective) are no longer optional goals.  They are a required part of our job, and failure to meet them will result in repercussions.
  • From here on out, everyone on the team must log into the company instant messenger application and this is one of the ways he will monitor our availability.
  • If there is a single failure to respond to a phone call or pageout from the company during the year, our bonus will be forfeit.

I winced visibly when he mentioned the 1:1s, remembering the experiences with Mr. Data from my first job.  I probably have thrown up if I’d realized in advance exactly how much worse these were going to be.

2005 was not a good year.


After a few months with the new structure, I noticed something.

The Cthulhu liked one of his employees much, much more than the others.  They went to lunch together most days.  In meetings they’d sit next to one another and nod at the same times.  I’d spot them leaving work, walking out of the building chatting.

It was Bert.

evilbertandcthulu

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11 Responses to The Job Experience, IT Plumbing: Year #6

  1. Jennifer says:

    I like your comment about just wanting to do the work instead of managing the work. I feel the same way. It seems like people think you’re some kind of weirdo if you’re not constantly striving to advance to management level. Personally, I find the actual work itself much more rewarding and less stressful than having to deal with personnel issues and being responsible for other people’s work.

    • livingafi says:

      “some kind of weirdo” — exactly. When I did finally leave FinComp. I remember telling my Dad that I was going to take a pay-cut to work somewhere else with potentially more satisfying work. His head nearly exploded: between the loss of title-based status and the drop in compensation, he just absolutely could not comprehend the rationale behind the decision. He’s one of those guys that thinks “work is a misery no matter what, so you might as well get paid as much as possible.” PS, it turned out to be a good move anyways.

    • Moonwaves says:

      “It seems like people think you’re some kind of weirdo if you’re not constantly striving to advance to management level.” So true. Try being a secretary, always having wanted to be one, being really good at it and never having had any desire to manage people at all. So many people seem to just kind of fall in to secretarial/admin work because they can’t get anything else and then try and use it as a stepping stone to other work (should I blame that Melanie Griffith/Harrison Ford film?) that, yep, managers seem to think you’re some kind of weirdo if you don’t want to do what they’re doing. I think at some point I came to the realisation that it’s only natural, since people will judge you by their own standards, so to speak, and if they have the ambition or desire to manage and move up in a company, they struggle to understand those who don’t.
      Glad I came back to finish reading through your archives, by the way. It’s very useful and I think I’m going to try and do something similar. I have no FU money and will never retire early but nonetheless will be handing in my notice by the end of this quarter (have a three months from end of quarter notice period). I just reached a point recently where I realised it’s the same old shit starting to happen that sent me to the brink of a nervous breakdown three years ago and it’s just not worth it. I think it’ll be really good to look back on not just this but all of my jobs till now and try and remember the good and the bad about each of them. It’d be good to have that stuff clear in my head when choosing my next one. Thanks.

  2. So, were the coins really as big as your whole body (Mario graphic ref)? No wonder we like VG so much, you get to travel to inventive places and get rich just by jumping up and grabbing floating money. Interesting comment about your Dad, mine would be pretty surprised by my financial situation. He knows we’ve had it good, and he had it good too, but I don’t think he knows how different the working world is. Also, not to be to random in this comment, but I like how you are treating this as ‘the work experience’ – it’s just one of many options available. I hated my previous choice, but is was necessary and I would’ve chaffed at it being called an experience, but my latest gig is definitely an open ended ‘experience’.

    • livingafi says:

      Video games aren’t an improvement over many parts of life (hiking, eating, and hanging around with my wife come to mind), but there’s no question they’re better than office life, hands down, all day, every day. On the subject of the parents — I can’t even tell my Dad what’s going on with me financially — he would shit a brick if he knew I was on the edge of retiring, and I’m not sure there’d be any way to calm him down. It’s weird — he dislikes work but simultaneously accepts that it’s a mandatory part of life to be endured, at least through age 60. For me to tell him I’ve just short-cutted the misery, well, I’m just not sure what he’d say. My first guess is “lazy.” If you ever tell your dad, I’d love to read a post about the experience… To your ‘random’ comment (love random comments btw): absolutely, even within a certain field or industry, things vary quite a bit from job to job, and each option ends up having its own distinct feel. Glad you left your own bad fit job and you’re somewhere that feels better now! Good for you, EV.

  3. Alex Kenzie says:

    What am I missing? This is not a long post… is it somewhere else now? Was it removed? Thanks for any info you can give me.

    • livafi says:

      There are links to pages underneath the all of the wordpress.com stuff at the end of the page.
      I just added some navigation tip reminders to the opening pages of the job experience posts to help folks find their way.

      Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  4. CC says:

    Your blog is really entertaining so far. I’ve been reading it from A-Z. You make me laugh!

  5. FIRE says:

    I’ve been reading through your work stories over the last few days. Found my way hear after reading somebody else’s particularly entertaining work stores on MMM and fellow posters talking about “Doom.”

    I’m really enjoying them but Cthulu’s behavior makes me a little physically sick. We all know there are bosses like that out in the world. But reading a detailed description of it is quite disturbing.

    On a lighter note. I love the stories! Very entertaining writing with lots of introspection and interesting observations.

  6. Sean says:

    “JUSTIFY YOUR INACTION IN WRITING” had me laughing for a good minute. Great writing.

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