Losing my hair and losing my mind in Western New York

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Moving On


I suppose all good things must come to an end. I just wish it hadn't been so abrupt! As of last week I am officially unemployed.

I won't go into all the gory details, as I really don't think it would be appropriate. I do think I can give some background though; Over the last week in August I was on a week's vacation so I could watch my kids. As you know I have two special-needs children who attend summer classes, and there is a two-week gap between the end of those classes and the start of the regular fall/winter classes One of these weeks I took off so I could watch them, as they are too young to be left alone and we didn't have babysitting for the week.

Monday after I came back from vacation I found out my Boss was going to be visiting the next day to deal with an issue with the VPN connection between our office and a remote office. Obviously I wanted everything to be perfect, so I set about making sure that any minor loose ends from my time off were closed up, and I even stayed late 2 hours to make sure any missed server updates were applied before he arrived so that there wouldn't be any issues with that.

Tuesday morning came and I didn't see him around, so I went on with my normal morning routine, checking the server logs, and making sure all the updates applied correctly. Later that morning, around 10AM he came into my office, and asked me to meet with him in the conference room. This peaked my interest as usually when he visited he would sit with me in my office and we would discuss the network and various other "shop" related stuff.

At the conference room the Human resources manager met us and the three of us went in together. As you can imagine, my internal alarm bells were ringing loudly at that point, and I joked with my Boss "My boss and the HR manager meeting with me in the conference room. Should I be nervous?" He didn't answer. He closed the door and we sat down at the conference table. Before I was even settled in my seat he told me that "We are going to let you go." I won't go into any further detail about the meeting other than to say that it was short, and my official "pink slip" stated that "My position was being eliminated."

After cleaning out my desk and providing a list of all my usernames and passwords I was unceremoniously escorted out of the building by my former boss and the door closed behind me. As you can well imagine I spent the rest of the day in a state of shock. There had been little to no warning before my dismissal and I felt very betrayed by a company that I had really worked hard at for the past 2 years.

I have had a week to sit and stew and think about it, and I feel much better about it now. The truth is that I was not really a good fit for that company from the start. They were involved in some very secret government stuff, and that culture of secrecy pervaded almost everything they did. Add to that that most of the employees that I served were long time friends and associates of the President and Vice President, and that my immediate supervisor was a relative of the Vice President. This was a recipe for disaster for any new person attempting to join that company and integrate themselves into it, particularly for someone like myself, who's previous work experience left me unprepared to deal with an office culture like that.

Don't get me wrong, this was not all their fault. A goodly portion of the blame rests on my shoulders as well. There were rumblings of trouble as long as a year ago. I began to have trouble communicating and working with one or two key staff members, and despite an intervention by my supervisor to attempt to rectify the situation about 8 months ago, the problems continued. Frankly, I should have been much more proactive in addressing the issues. When these staff members began to subtly avoid working with me I should have contacted my boss and hit the issue head-on. But, wanting to avoid "rocking the boat" and creating conflict I stayed silent. Ultimately this led to a communications breakdown that led to my dismissal.

Looking back on it, I do wonder how much help it would have been confronting the situation. One might speculate that had I pushed the issue, I might have simply been put out of work even sooner. The staff I was having conflict with were far more important to the company than I, and any conflict between myself and them would have surely ended up with me on the losing end. Of course, one can speculate endlessly about such things as there really isn't any way to know for sure. Unfortunately, I was forced to sign a "no disclosure, no solicitation" paper at my dismissal meeting, so I cannot contact any of my former colleagues to find out. At least, not through their company e-mails. ( I do question the legality of such a document. Had I realized at the time what I was signing I would have flatly refused to sign it. I was under quite a bit of emotional distress at the time and was in no condition to think clearly about it. The more conspiratorially minded might think that was the point of having me sign right then. Who knows.)

At any rate, here I sit, out of a job, and unable to use any of the contacts from my 2 years of employment as references due to being unable to contact them (not a very nice position to be in, let me tell you). Of course, all of my previous references are worthless due to them being both 2 years out of date, and my having lost contact with them due to them leaving the company or the company closing up shop. So I am left with NO references for my technical ability and nothing but my word to go on. Frustrating to be sure.

Nevertheless, I will soldier on. I do have a family to support, after all. I have been spamming my resume like crazy, and since I learned many MANY new skills while employed by my previous employer (mostly because I was essentially left to my own devices and had to sink or swim with these systems) I do have a much more impressive resume than before. If anyone wants to look at it, I am posted on Monster.com, Dice.com and buffaloniagara.org. Alternately, you can contact me at my e-mail address here, and I will gladly forward you my resume.

Wish me luck!


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