Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Still Thinking About Up in the Air...part 6.5

After seven very long months, I was employed once again, and I actually had the long-thought-lost feeling of hope.  With any luck, I was now working at a job similar to the game company with cool, fun people--minus the screaming siblings--and an opportunity to learn and grow and actually have some fun while doing something I could be proud of.  

My first day on the job was filled with the normal paperwork, introductions to people around the office and training, but I was relieved to see someone that I knew working there.  This guy, Miles, was someone I knew from my days of going downtown often, and living it up.  He was not necessarily someone I would call a friend, and probably not someone that I would want to classify as such, but at least he was a familiar face.  He was fired and gone within the first week that I was there.

Life at this tech reseller appeared to be fairly tough for the outside sales reps if they did not perform, and I counted my blessings that I would hopefully never be in their position.  All that I needed to do was my job and make sure that I was on top the tracking and the closing of open orders in the system and I would be fine, and I was.  I quickly realized that this job would never be like the game job, but it seemed fairly stable, I felt needed and valued by my direct boss and even by the CEO, and there were opportunities to learn from the CTO, who kindly taught my boss and I about various technologies in one-on-two trainings.  Things seemed okay.

I even got along well with some of the sales guys, who would invite me along on many of their downtown drinking festivities, and I was even invited along when various vendors came rolling into town for parties that they were sponsoring.  I liked the job okay, my boss was great (and is still a friend of mine), and there seemed to be promise with the job, but it was after I had been there for over six months that people began to confide that the place was "really starting to go downhill...you know, go corporate."  I was told that before I came on board...always before I came on board...that the company was a lot of fun and that every Friday the three owners would buy beer and everyone would have a good time. The company was smaller then and was doing well, but now various people felt that the owners were trying to grow the company too fast so that they could ultimately sell the business.

After hearing on multiple occasions that the company was becoming more corporate, I slowly began to notice a change in the atmosphere of the workplace.  Strict rules on timeliness were imposed, I heard a lot of micromanaging of the outside sales reps happening...they were nowhere near as bad as the sales people from the cable advertising company...and access to websites was now being blocked for "security reasons."  No one understood what was going on or why these changes were being implemented and nothing was divulged to us either.  One of my friends at the office, an inside sales person who happened to be much more talented in the ways of computers than anyone could possibly know, discovered that the sales managers were given the capability to spy on the reps computers at any time and see what they were doing.  I could not understand why.  Sure sales were down at that point, at least according to the company powerpoint presentation that was given in the lobby, but spying was just...extreme.  The CEO also appeared to become more short and secretive with everyone at that point and the "company culture" (god I hate corporate buzzwords more than anything) had changed.  From that point to ninety days later, more than 1/3 of the company had quit, including two people getting up pronouncing they were "outta here"and walking out never to return.

To say that things changed quickly would be an understatement.  The internet site blocking was lifted for email services like hotmail and yahoo, supposedly the spying was ended and an emergency meeting was held in the lobby.  The owners, primarily the CEO who always led the meetings, had put together a powerpoint presentation where they basically admitted to making some errors in their goal to increase the size of the business and make the company more attractive to investors, and that something had been lost along the way...the close camaraderie and appreciation of the employees.  We were then individually given stock options in the company so that we all had a stake in the company's success and if it happened to ever be sold....well, things would have been really nice.  Pizzas were brought in.

Things then went back roughly to the way they were before the meltdown, and I had taken on the additional responsibility of shipping and receiving for the company, which was to be a minimal task, that ended up growing to fairly psychotic levels.  It was right around this time that a new batch of sales reps had come in to replace the old, and certain types of "odd" deals were happening that mysteriously made a lot of money.

One night near quarter end, the CEO and a few of the sales reps were waiting on UPS to drop off a part that we could then throw into a box and ship to a customer.  There were a bunch of us manically taping and boxing the shipment, and as I was wheeling out some of the items to the curb for UPS pickup, the CEO came outside and pulled me aside.  He was looking at me with what I can only describe as the wide-eyed business man stare.  A stare reminiscent of the excited/intense look of the the men in the movie Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room.  "Hey Donist...I just noticed that we are short some of the widgets in the stockroom.  They were there yesterday.  Do you know anything about that?" he said head quickly bobbing up and down, lips pulled tight in a accusatory smirk.  I, of course, did not, but he was clearly implying that I had something to do with the missing items, which both shocked and deeply offended me.  We went back inside and reopened one of the boxes and found what was supposedly missing, but he never apologized, merely saying, "Oh good, they are there," and he walked off without a word.

However, it was determined that some units of a different "odd" widget were missing and a week later, one of the more weird glassy-eyed sales reps was packing up a box, and was out the door with some sort of investigation going on into him. The problem was that the CEO had accused me first, before the guy that was obviously on drugs, and I took this deeply to heart.  I was told a while later, after the job had fizzled out, that the CEO was reluctant to even hire me because although I graduated from the same college and with the same degree as most of the employees, I had not been in a fraternity, and that made me weird.  I guess it is not weird and more acceptable to be a UCSB Business Economics major in a fraternity and with a drug problem, than just a UCSB Business Economics major.

Wow...this went on way longer than I thought that it would...I will finish this up tomorrow.  Funny though, writing about my old jobs is fairly therapeutic.  I should charge myself for this shit.

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