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IT freely, a true tale: One night a project saved my life

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Not surprising to see so many ACs posting here - I'll add to that list for obvious reasons (not to mention some of it is under non-disclosure) !

"Me too" about sums up a significant part of that article. At a previous employer, we went from the "it's nice to work here" with management that were technically inept but who understood people. The MD would often introduce me as "I have no ideas what he does, but he keeps things working" - his job wasn't to understand IT (though actually he wasn't actually that bad), but the main thing was that he recognised that it wasn't his job and was happy to let others (with some oversight and direction of course) handle that.

Then management changed and the bean counters were in charge. They f***ed stuff up so badly that sales slumped by something around 50% for the last figures I saw - but like housetraining puppies they were unable to link cause (slashing R&D) and effect (old products that customers didn't want to buy), just like puppies can't associate that smelly pile on the carpet with anything that they did if you tell them off the next day. "Do more with less" was the mantra - that being a euphemism for "we've less people to cut costs but we expect the same amount of work done". There were more minor issues like constantly being told by the FD that we had to "plan ahead", only for any proactive things to be turned down. Example: back then our network was 100Mbit hubs (yes hubs), and from discussions going on it was clear that we were going to need a better network. When we raised this proactively it was dismissed with no discussion as "something we can address when it happens" - which in reality means "don't plan a head, fix it when it's broken".

For a while I had this feeling that "something isn't right" but couldn't put a finger on it. Then one day someone had a leaflet (from a union) about stress. List of symptoms ... tick, tick, maybe not, tick, tick, tick ... List of causes ... tick, maybe not, tick, tick, ... Which led to one of those "lightbulb moments" when all became clear.

My immediate supervisor started being helpful, within the limits of her influence, after I snapped back one day with "will it make the amount of work any less of the demands any more reasonable". But by then it was too late. One day I just had that "had enough" moment, phoned up and was surprised to get an appointment with my GP after work, left work at normal time without saying anything. Doctor asked the usual "what seems to be the problem ?", and had signed me off before I'd finished the first sentence !

I contacted my union, and the rep I was assigned was great. Company had no intention of having me back, it was an opportunity to lose another head off the headcount. They were intent on making it "my fault" so I'd quit and save them any compensation - but fortunately my union rep put them straight when they outright bullied me during a meeting which was supposed to be able airing the problems and finding a way forward.

As an aside re HR departments. I'd written a long letter over Christmas - and revised it several times over several days to make sure there was no "heat of the moment" stuff in it. It took the HR person several months before I eventually got to see here - it just wasn't important to here to address a written complaint. My union rep described her as the "slipperiest person he's ever dealt with". The company offered an insult of a package to leave, my union rep talked them up to an offer - I took it.

Luckily, the old boss of the company was still around, and very quickly put me in another company he had influence in. It was a pay cut, and poorer T&C, but not too bad.

But here the MD is so laid back he's nearly inverted. SO much so that a junior person was able to effectively make himself a manager - and he was (still is) a bully. Two written complaints were ignored as the boss didn't have the go to challenge him.

Eventually one day things came to a head, and I walked out before saying something both of us would regret. Again I got signed off with stress.

But, at around this time my diagnosis came through - "I'm an Aspie", or to be more correct "I'm on the autistic spectrum". One of those "I'd always been a square peg" things, but only recently I asked my GP and got a referral. News that I had this, and that it's officially a disability, seemed to spur the boss into action. I suspect he was also starting to recognise that this other person was wrecking the business.

When I was ready to get back to work, things were somewhat different ! Far from perfect, but different.

Now, I do have projects of my own. that's a great idea. But, I know that most of what I do here they are actively trying to get rid of. Shove customers onto "cloud" stuff for pretty much everything I have a hand in, until I'll have no server room to be responsible for. As most of the rest of the work done in the company is stuff I really want to not do, that makes the future a bit uncertain.

But aspects of the ASD mean that I really struggle in interviews, and given the limited options locally, I'm really struggling to find another job.

Oh well, about time to knock off, forget about work, go home, and fuss the dog - now there's something to distract from work ! Oh, and the wife gets a look in too :-)

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