The New IT Contract From Hell - Part 2
END OF MONTH TWO
She wants to make conversation:
"How many agencies do you work for?"
"Whichever ones get me contracts and pay up on time"
"No, I mean how many are you actually signed up with?"
"Well none of them. I send my CV to all of them on spec, and resend it if I see a contract I like."
"When I was temping as a secretary I worked for three agencies."
"Sorry, but I'm not temping, I am an independent contractor."
"It's the same thing."
"Well not really, I don't get paid between contracts for example."
"Then you're stupid."
I am still in the job, so I guess they never found that permie they were hoping for.
One of the guys in marketing has just got married to a CSR he met in the company's Dubai office.
To get her a work permit they fire the contract DBA and give the CSR his job.
The newly-weds hold hands during the weekly status meeting.
A week later they have to hire another contract DBA to show the CSR what to do - he quits after two days.
I'm offered an extension and I take it - the money is that good.
I insist to the agent that the notice period is raised from 2 to 28 days.
It's Xmas, and the cross-worshippers are full of themselves.
There is a non-stop barrage of anecdotes about Jesus coming from the manager, which have dramatically increased since the Muslim girl joined the team.
Something else I learned about the culture there: You can't swear, or say anything un-christian, but it's ok to fart in the office so long as you say sorry afterwards - no matter how much it stinks.
Things are starting to slip.
She doesn't like me, and is starting to make it clear.
I'm the only contractor on the team. I'm also 10 years senior to the next eldest person, and the only person qualified in IT.
She announces over my head to the team: "You know these contractors make twice as much money as you do".
I am not going to let this stand and defend myself saying, "Wait a moment. You have no idea how much I make, all you see is what the agency charges. Think about it for a moment. If you were sent to work abroad for three months the company would pay all your flights, all your hotel bills, and your meals. You'd do very nicely out of it. I have to finance that myself".
Her response, "Well you're stupid. You should move house."
I turn up at work on the first Friday of the new year and immediately notice that every change to the website over the last three months has been backed out.
Alone in the office I use my skills to discover what has happened (developers promoted new code over the holiday and also promoted three-month old test data - a cut from production - with it).
I repair the damage, decide that under the circumstances I do not require sign-off, and redeploy the correct content.
Before leaving I send an urgent email to management detailing what had happened, the steps taken to recover, and how to avoid a repeat.
On the Monday I get an email from the boss' boss telling me well done,
and she gives me a bollocking for deploying without her permission.
I'm getting fed up with her b.s. by now so I forward her the email from
I also show her how to avoid it happening again and she says that won't be necessary as she has told the developers not to make any mistakes in future.
THE LAST MONTH
Marketing ask me directly in the status meeting if I can prepare a press release a day early because they have a team training exercise on the publication day.
I tell them it's no problem as I am not busy that week.
After the meeting the shrieking team leader yells at me never to speak in a team meeting again.
Why not, I ask her. "You must check with me, there might be things happening this week that you don't know about".
"Well no, but that's not the point, I run this team and I won't have juniors speaking without permission!"
THE FINAL WEEK
Agent calls me saying they want to terminate, no reason given, adding that they want me to leave as quickly as possible (I guess they have found a hapless permie and need the desk space).
I remind him about the 28 days notice and that I expect them to honour that, if they do I'm happy to leave today.
He gets back to me after an hour and says they will pay the next 28 days but they want me to leave at the end of the week.
I begin looking for a new contract. As they will not allow me to access my webmail I openly use their telephones to call around agencies.
As I leave for lunch she makes some caustic remark to a team-mate about "unemployment".
I book the conference room between 12:00-13:00 for my first telephone
interview for a job 40km from home.
She interrupts at 12:30 asking me to leave as she wants the room.
I put the interviewer on hold, and tell her the room is booked and to go check the booking system to find another room.
Morning, first thing, I am offered the new contract despite her childish attempt to disrupt my interview.
I laugh at her.
In that day's team meeting she asks what I have on for the day, and I say that I am supposed to be preparing the quarterly results press release (as mentioned the week before) but that I cannot because she hasn't handed over the text or signed it off.
"What do you mean, I haven't signed it off?".
"Marketing and legal sent you the approval emails and the text three days ago and you haven't signed it off. So it's going to be late now."
"You could have asked the manager to do it!"
"No, it's your responsibility to sign it off and you've been sat there next to me the last three days holding it back like some anally retentive simpleton. Why should I go over your head?"
"Leave this meeting now!".
(I had in fact already spoken to marketing - who know this woman and her pathetic machinations - and they had send me the text directly, so it was in fact already prepared.
I arrange with the back-up guys to cut my personal files onto a CD (I'd amassed nearly 40MB of photos, emails, and stuff).
They say it's fine but it turns out the CD writer is broken.
She spies me using the CD writer and runs off tittle-tattling to management that I might be stealing data.
Banned from taking my personal possessions out of the office, I copy the
file to a hidden directory on the PROD webserver (which I, and I alone, have access to).
I download it from a wireless cafe that evening.
It's my last day and I have to remove that hidden file from the webserver before I go, but wouldn't you know it, PROD is down.
Nobody can access it today.
I cannot leave that file there, even if it is encrytped.
I root about the network and discover to my relief that the problem is simple: DNS is down.
I ftp using the dotted-decimal and remove the file. Then I spend the day chatting on the phone and answering every spurious request she makes with,
"Can't, your network's down".
All the team are frustrated all day by the outage.
I'd gotten to feel sorry for the junior sat next to me though, and I could see she was frustrated by the downtime.
So at 17:30 I say to her with a wink, "remember someone told you I get paid much more than than everybody else? Well look, type these numbers into your browser instead of the name and see, the site comes up. It isn't down at all. It's been up all day in fact".
Delighted, she looked up at me and asked, "how did you know how to do that?"
I looked away from her, right into the eye of the team "leader" and said, with all the venom I could muster, "That's what I get paid the extra for".