Yesterday makes it into my top 100 of days. Put it between 90 and 100.
This spring I gigged into a hardware / firmware / software verification and validation project at say “Walleye State Mining and Manufacturing”. Huge, old, successful company. They are big on sandpaper but have some higher tech product lines….
Well I was ready to love it because the commute is short and I have an emotional, legacy attachment to the company, but the pay was bad and it went horseshit to boot. One of the things was, Walleye State there is a kind of a stodgy old engineering / design company. And they weren’t really practicing contemporary project management. They were winging it and paying lip service to modern project methodology. Morning standup, but no actual sprint / task planning. Fine for them to go through the motions but my vendor was getting paid based on this contract test team of us 3 people meeting service level agreement date milestones, and Walleye State couldn’t have cared less about delivering finished code on time.
So, you get into this game where Walleye State delivers code late and we pretend to validate it in a quarter or eighth of the time we were allotted for testing. Fine, we’ll pretend, b/c customer is always right…. As a timesaving measure, we were reusing tests for a superficially identical product the company had made, but for this new functional incarnation these tests were awkward / irrelevant to the point of uselessness. They didn’t execute the functional points people believed they were supposed to, and didn’t demonstrate anything.
The two biddies I was working with had been there a few weeks longer than me, and outwardly had an appearance of being able to navigate this mess. Me, less so… in fact I’m sure I frequently had the appearance of confusion. So on a day in May when my company’s relationship manager and practice manager were acutely worried about meeting the SLA and getting the big invoice paid, they thought they needed to be bold and take action and make changes. That was me, I was removed from the project. Which means, ‘fired’.
It was an abrupt thing, and I knew I didn’t really deserve to be fired and that it wouldn’t solve the problems they thought it would. But because of experience and wisdom I was prepared as I needed to be. I left, no drama, no arguments, hardly a word. Did not offer a critique of the project, my co-workers, just left (….And got a way better job in a couple weeks).
Move on, just be like a dog, kick some grass on that shit and move on…. Now you can do that, and should, just like all the Bloomberg and Forbes and Fast Company self-help articles tell you, but it’s not without its stresses. Being unemployed is the big one, but you also always go through a little of the self-doubt thing, like, why was it me who was the fuck-up there, why can everyone else cope but not me, why am I the square peg…
Well, in kind of a stunning occurrence that just never ever happens…. I find it wasn’t me, my old employer knows they panicked and made a bad decision. Yesterday I’m walking in the public corridor of the new place, I hear “Zingy! Hey Zingy!”. And it’s the relationship manager guy from the last gig. I knew he had people placed here among the army of contractors. First thing he says to me is, “hey we had to remove Biddie #1 (my old lead) at Walleye State, and we figure you might have gotten thrown under the bus a little.” IE, by her.
I literally had to say ‘excuse me, I’m a little startled to see you here…’ because I couldn’t like, talk. I found some words though and we ended up having a 3 minute conversation, in which I said “no worries, I landed on my feet.”
He says, “I didn’t really have any doubt about that”. Which I feel acknowledges one of my best qualities. I like to feel I’m very resilient. I’m looking to blend a metaphor or idiom here in a snappy way, IE, “I’m so resilient being thrown under a bus doesn’t hurt me.” Doesn’t really work though.
Anyway, vindicated / validated. Karmically, I’m sure it’s because I wasn’t looking for it.
The other thing I’m sure they get is, I got like 25 more years of billing ahead of me. Millions of F-ing dollars. You don’t just let that walk out the door because you have a moment where you need to look boldly managerial. Now I’m billing for someone else.