Co-Worker Quit Vision
The next day — Friday — I went to lunch with another guy on my team.
He’s a senior dude. Helped train me 3 years ago when I arrived on board the good ship myCompany.
Ten minutes into lunch, he tells me he’s leaving.
Holy shit, really? Why? Haven’t you been here 12 years?
Yeah. Just had enough.
Actually it was this whole effort reporting thing. It’s like worse than big brother. Big brother is having a camera on you. This is being your own camera. You have to record what you’re doing yourself. Half the time I can’t remember what the hell I was doing during the day toward the end of it because it’s been so busy and yet I’ve got to document it.
Yeah I know what you mean.
Plus how am I supposed to fill out my hour card when most of the time I’m troubleshooting production issues at the end of the day? I can’t exactly take time out from that to do paperwork. But if I don’t, I’ll get dinged.
So when do I do it? I realized I’d be logging into the company almost every single evening just to do this thing just to avoid being yelled at the next day because those reports are going to be run every morning to check for compliance. And I can’t live like that. So I started looking.
Well, I’m interviewing for one place that I think likes me. I have a 2nd rounder next week. They want me to give a presentation.
This place is a “real” technology company. Hardcore, not like this place. They want prospective hires to talk about an engineering project that they’re doing in their free time — something they’re into outside of work.
Yeah. It proves to them that you’re totally passionate about the field and you don’t want the job just for a paycheck.
What are you going to talk about?
Well, as luck would have it, I’m building a small arcade cabinet from a Raspberry Pi board. It’ll play retro games like Donkey Kong and Moon Patrol. I guess I’ll talk about that.
I’m thinking: Is this another new trend of the future? Companies no longer hiring employees based on the credentials from their previous company? Companies who require their employees to engage in projects that are related to their day-jobs even when they’re not at work? Companies who want employees that pretend that they would do this work without pay around the clock, because gosh-darn-it, they’re just that into it?
My Hawkeye-quit-vision says yes, for certain types of positions.
Here I risk a closer look at his face and notice the weariness. Bags under the eyes, lines. He’s forty five and in reasonably good physical shape, but the fatigue cannot be hidden.
Are you excited about this new gig? Tell me about it.
It’s a software company. They make <thing.>
Right. But you didn’t answer my question. Are you excited about the mission?
No. <pause.> Not really.
Just curious: When’s the last time you were really excited about going to a job?
Why are you asking?
I have an interest, that’s all. Peoples’ relationship to work.
I don’t know. Fifteen years maybe? When I was around 30 I seem to remember being more driven. I worked at <someOtherCompany> and I don’t think I believed in their mission either but I do recall being excited by the technology. That doesn’t happen much anymore — Nowadays, I just want the time to pass. But this new place will be okay, hopefully. Nice people, seems.
I lay off at this point. Part of me considers telling him I’m leaving work forever. Showing him the MMM site, or ERE. Telling him it’s possible for him to be done in perhaps ten years. Fifteen at the outside. Much, much less if he’s already been dumping money into his retirement vehicles and has no debt.
But he just seems so low and flat that I keep everything to myself and just wish him the best at his new job. Still, it’s completely clear to me that he’s burnt and doesn’t really want to work just for the sake of working any longer. My guess is that having an out down the line would re-energize him.
So as a compromise, I’ve decided to send him a note once we’re both departed, a month or so from now — I have his personal contact information. Then, if he doesn’t want to talk about it, it’ll be a lot less awkward. Although, on the other hand, MMM could lead him to the forums, which might lead him to one of my posts as Dr. Doom, which might in turn make him click on the link to my blog, resulting in an eventual read of this article, where he would no doubt put everything together.
If that’s the case — howdy partner! Congratulations for embarking on this journey! Email me sometime if you want to chat directly.
And welcome to the club. You’re in for an awesome ride.