Wednesday, January 25, 2017

More Mistaken Identity

Here's another case of mistaken identity at a large company...

I'd taken a job as a programmer right out of school. It was a huge manufacturing company with big government contracts and tens of thousands of employees across the country.  I was assigned to a group responsible for analyzing certain kinds of data and creating one-off reports whenever someone demanded one.

I started on the same day as another programmer, and our cubes were adjacent. We worked in a downtown skyscraper.

The manager of this group was a young VP who'd just graduated with an Ivy League MBA. He was the type to stand by the front door on our floor with a watch, noting who came in at 8:01am and making snide comments.

Pleasant guy.

He also could never remember anyone's name.

My day consisted of sitting in my cube, programming all day, eating lunch at my desk, and waiting for the clock to hit 6pm so I could get home.

The programmer next to me, the one who started on the same day, had the habit of wandering around and socializing, and hitting on the VP's admin/receptionist. I heard later that she didn't like this very much, and said so - a few times.

She must have escalated this to the VP, because a few weeks in, one morning at 8:30am, my manager came to my cube and told me the VP wanted to see me.

I had no idea what was going on, and wasn't nervous. I figured it was just a new-employee-chat sort of thing.

I got to the VP's corner office, and a security guard closed the door.  The VP was playing with a baseball, his feet up on his desk, and told me that I was being let go.

I was stunned. I asked why.

He told me it was for hitting on his administrative assistant, for wandering around and not doing my work, and for repeatedly making a pain of myself.

I was shocked! I told him it wasn't me, it couldn't have been. It didn't matter. He told me to get out, the guard would walk with me while I collected my things, and that was it. They would mail my last check to me.

I was young, and intimidated, and had no idea what to do, so I left. I think my heart was pounding for a week.

A week goes by, and out of the blue I got a phone call from my former manager (not the VP). He asks me when I am coming back to work, and why I didn't call him to say I was out sick.


I told him that the whole story.

Dead. Silence. Then he told me he would get back to me. But in the meantime, could I tell him where my programming work was, and in what state?

I waited a moment to think of what to say.  Finally, I said,


I got a new job a few months later at a great company.

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