back to article Work for you? Again? After you lied about the job and stole my stuff? No thanks

Taylor Swift is playing in On Call's town tonight, creating a city-wide Friday frenzy. Here at The Register we prefer to end the working week in a gentler fashion by offering a fresh installment of On Call, the reader-contributed column in which we share stories of haters who hated IT, fakers who faked technical nous, and …

  1. b0llchit Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Been there, done that. And if you insist on getting reassurances, even in writing, then the message after the job will be "That was then, this is now. Realities have changed.". And you are getting screwed over anyway.

    Lesson learned: Never ever trust the "boss".

    1. BenDwire Silver badge
      Meh

      Ex-Boss here.

      Anyone reading this forum would think that there were no good bosses around. I like to take pride in the fact that I treated my staff fairly, adhered to a policy of give-and-take and generally said thank-you for a job well done, along with a decent salary. Admittedly I had bosses along the way that made me determined to do better than them, so I understand why there are so many bitter and twisted people around.

      While I accept that I may be an outlier in the management sphere (I don't have an MBA for a start, but I do have an Engineering degree) I like to think that my employees enjoyed working with me. Certainly they said as much to my face, and nobody ever left for reasons I could influence.

      If your boss is an idiot, then tell them that they are being an idiot. If they won't take constructive criticism then get another job before you lose your mind / health / spouse. Life is too short.

      It's friday - time for beer.

      1. seven of five

        > While I accept that I may be an outlier in the management sphere (I don't have an MBA for a start, but I do have an Engineering degree)

        Then you are not one of "them", you're one of "us".

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          That is a significant point.

          There are the managers who's profession ( I use the word very loosely) is managing. They often believe that, as one management consultant said to me "You don't need to know anything about the business to be a manager of it". And they often have MBAs and no or little or no experience of the front line roles.

          And there's the ones who've done the job and got promoted- because they were good at it.*

          *Also the ones who were promoted out of harm's way though. Sometimes they can be decent managers too.

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            There are the managers who's profession ( I use the word very loosely) is managing. They often believe that, as one management consultant said to me "You don't need to know anything about the business to be a manager of it". And they often have MBAs and no or little or no experience of the front line roles.

            That's a bit verbose. "They have MBAs" is probably sufficient. I've literally never met a manager who tells(*) you he's(**) got an MBA who is anything other than negative capacity.

            (*) It could be I've had decent managers with MBAs, but if so they've kept it quiet. If they tell you the first time you meet that they've got an MBA, they're an arsehole and will be an awful manager and totally ignorant of anything technical.

            (**) It's always a bloke who insists you must know about his MBA. (And his Rolex. And his BMW.)

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              If they tell you the first time you meet that they've got an MBA - sympathise with them. Sow a little confusion into their minds.

              1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

                There's a lovely Sir Pterry one which I can't find right now 'cause I lent Thief of Time to a mate, but it goes something like: "They weren't bad men really, but they were tired, and anxious, and working under the misapprehensions of people everywhere who manage an organisation undertaking a great enterprise: first, that it is the enterprise that needs managing, not the organisation; and second, that tranquillity is always a good thing."

                1. Snapper
                  Unhappy

                  So miss Sir Pterry!

            2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

              Ah, Joy

              I and my SW techie teammates had a boss named "Joy." Our first meeting was an all-group brainstorming session she had called to create our group's "vision statement." Every Friday afternoon, we had a "status meeting" where we all would sit around while she went through a list of projects and other things she kept in a spreadsheet. She'd ask us if it was done; if it wasn't done, she'd ask us why it wasn't done (reasonable so-far), and then when it would be done, and refused to accept any variation of the answer, "I don't know," even when that was the correct, or even the only-possible truthful answer. You could answer, "I emailed Earnest Schnozzle at Cedar Networks, Inc. on the 24th, and have not yet heard back from him," to which she'd reply, "That's fine, but when will this project be done?!

              We referred to her among ourselves as "the spread-sheet manager." Fortunately for our sanity and the health of our company, she was gone (of her own volition) within a month. (Truly. No BOFH-like actions were required nor used.)

              1. T. F. M. Reader

                Re: Ah, Joy

                Weekly status meetings??? She was just lazy. Standard practice is daily status meetings, and the procedure you described is pure textbook. Sorry to break it to you so bluntly: you were not special, just lucky on the account of the "weekly" bit.

                By the way, a spreadsheet is obsolete technology. Today, the previous day's email summary is edited on a shared Teams screen during the status meeting and is then sent to the team at the end, only to be edited again the next day.

                How do I know all that without having an MBA? Can't you guess?

                I think I already posted the thought here once or twice, but at the risk of being repetitive and with apologies all around: status meetings are always about the status of the manager, not the status of the project.

                1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

                  Re: Ah, Joy

                  This was during the 1990s. There was no Microsoft Teams, and no Sharepoint.

                  I don't believe spreadsheets are obsolete, but I do believe that they are mis-applied / mis-used at least 50% of the time, e.g., a spreadsheet containing a list of people and their phone numbers.

                  1. Julz

                    Make

                    That 99.9% of the time...

                  2. Snapper

                    Re: Ah, Joy

                    Or, as one of my 'creative' clients did, created a high-end fashion catalogue with high-res photos using Excel with a total file size of 22GB.

                    Then tried to email it to all the fashion editors in Europe and USA/Canada.

                    Didn't work. Funny that!

                  3. cje

                    Re: Ah, Joy

                    Here at an international company that makes printers & camera's, the place would collapse without Excel! Absolutely nothing modern at the company.

                2. doublelayer Silver badge

                  Re: Ah, Joy

                  An email summary that gets sent to everyone? You're stuck in the first decade of this century (lucky for you). Nowadays Grandad, we use bespoke web platforms that store every tiny detail of a project in its own task page which has about a hundred buttons and twenty text boxes for different details, none of which has anything in them because filling in a big description of tasks that will take you an hour to complete is pointless. You're supposed to open, close, and update them yourself, but nobody does it because, even if you do, there will be a meeting where someone goes through every one on the board, one by one, and takes a few minutes to hit the resolve button. They're designed to look like they could possibly be useful if they were used differently, but I'm not sure whether that's ever happened.

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Ah, Joy

                "Fortunately for our sanity and the health of our company, she was gone (of her own volition) within a month."

                On to another step up the ladder no doubt. I had one of these ambitious kids attached to my team once. Fairly recent graduate, no skills appropriate to the team. I think she'd come from somewhere where she'd been for a short time. About a month or so later she moved to yet another job having, as far as I could make out, having gained any useful experience while she was with us.

                1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                  Re: Ah, Joy

                  You get this in teaching too. Young graduates, with a PGCE, and ambition. You can see a mile off that teaching isn't their aspiration. Instead they have a carefully plotted path to headship, and these days to executive headship or CEO of a big academy trust. (In my own teaching days it would have been to Director of Education).

                  They are always quick to spot and to jump on to the Next New Thing - but if they are any good at the game, that includes knowing when to jump off. Somehow they manage to get themselves known by the Important People in the authority and so on. Inspectors love them and give glowing comments about them. What they tend not to be great at is getting the kids educated- as opposed to being versed well in the current thinkng. If having the kids standing on their heads was the in thing, you can guarantee that the kids in their classes will have skulls flattened by the amount of time they spend inverted and said teacher will be getting invited to talk to other schools' staff about their success with Child Inversion Technique.. But I can guarantee that when that becomes invalidated or out of fashion they'll already have been having their kids doing the latest newst thing instead and will be sneeringly disparaging about the teachers who are still making kid stand on their heads in exactly the way that they had been shown by her .

                  1. KittenHuffer Silver badge
                    Joke

                    Re: Ah, Joy

                    It's the Student Head Inversion Technique!

              3. JimC

                Re: Ah, Joy

                Grief, that reminds me of a boss I had who'd ambush his staff in a team meeting with unexpected questions and if he didn't like the answer would ask exactly the same question again. Whilst I like to think I have pretty good tolerance for ignorance and well meaning fools, I am not so great with deliberate idiocy, and in those days I had only been in IT and offices for a very few years, having spent the beginning of my working life in, shall we say, much more robust environments. Consequently this particular form of idiocy rather lit a fuse that was a lot shorter in those days, and I fear I tended to respond to the same question repeated with the same answer, but much louder. Apparently, for the few months this doomed working relationship lasted, our team meetings were rather legendary in the organisation!

              4. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Ah, Joy

                I’m sure Joy is a super Agile girl now, and the correct answer now is “It’s in the backlog for the next Sprint”.

            3. Martin an gof Silver badge

              I've literally never met a manager who tells(*) you he's(**) got an MBA who is anything other than negative capacity.

              I once worked for an extremely talented engineer as manager (and director of the company) whose one real foible was a reluctance to share the pager (we were supposed to do 50/50, but it was more like 75/25). He actually studied for an MBA while he was my manager so in that instance the "MBA is bad" mantra (which seems to work most of the time, if I'm honest) wasn't valid.

              Another manager in a different job, who was time-served in coal mines, defied company staggered lunch break policies to insist that our team lunched together most Fridays, with bags of chips bought by said manager. Needless to say, he was too good at his job so top management brought in a middle-manager to manage my manager (and only my manager). Said MBA-wielder lasted less than a year but succeeded in putting large numbers of backs up and making "redundant" a couple of skilled and knowledgeable engineers with an entirely rigged "skills assessment", simply because he didn't like them.

              M.

              1. anothercynic Silver badge

                Ahhh yes, rigged skills assessments... the classic thing that American managers love to use too.

                Speaking from past experience.

            4. Stork Silver badge

              Master of Bugger All

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I once worked as a summer intern in a department which was doing demand forecasting. It was very programming-heavy work. (As the intern, one of my assignments was manually verifying the various code sequences were running in the right order, so each piece's prerequisites were being met before it ran.) The manager struggled with putting an attachment into an email in Outlook. Oddly enough, he was a very good manager - he knew the skills of his team, knew who to assign to a given task, let them get on with it, and provided support as needed. (In my case, it was "[Intern], please call IT about the broken fax machine", "We have a lunch meeting for 8 people, order pizza. Here's the P-card.", etc.)

            Not every manager needs to know how to do the job that they are managing. (But it does help.)

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              OTOH the ones who tell you they can manage anything can manage nothing.

      2. adam 40 Silver badge
        Pint

        It's friday - time for beer.

        It's friday - time to take my team for beer.

        FTFY!

        1. GlenP Silver badge

          Re: It's friday - time for beer.

          I'd like to do that but when the nearest team member is a couple of hundred miles away and the furthest about 6,000 miles it's a bit tricky!

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: It's friday - time for beer.

            Most countries have companies that deliver beer and/or other enjoyable beverages.

            My manager has sent me hot chocolate on occasion.

            1. keithpeter Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: It's friday - time for beer.

              "My manager has sent me hot chocolate on occasion."

              My inner paranoid android thinks: 'delivery tracking provides unobtrusive way of checking that you are in your house'.

              Icon: no read receipts on this forum.

              1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

                Delivery Tracking

                delivery tracking provides unobtrusive way of checking that you are in your house

                Not around here! Here, the delivery services just toss the package somewhere into the general vicinity of your porchstep, then run away like a child prankster. Said package is then reported as "Delivered."

                1. TSM

                  Re: Delivery Tracking

                  Or it's reported as Delivered anywhere from a few hours to a day and a half before they actually show up with it.

                2. DropBear
                  Facepalm

                  Re: Delivery Tracking

                  What miraculous land is this you live in...? Package marked "unable to deliver, nobody home" even though you spent your entire day glued to the door. Because couriers get assigned impossible targets nowadays, and when targets are impossible you stop even trying to fulfill them and just flat out fake, lie and cheat.

      3. Sam not the Viking Silver badge
        Pint

        A good boss

        I have been fortunate enough to work for some good bosses and when I became a boss, I hope I was good. I have removed staff who were incompetent (principally, they claimed skills/qualifications they failed to be able to demonstrate).

        On the other hand, I have also had bosses who were poor and I agree with BenD: you have to leave as soon as possible but I acknowledge that this may not always be as easy as it sounds.

        And good bosses buy beer. Friday ---->

        1. KillStuffMount

          Re: A good boss

          Not so sure about beer, but I've done the occasional Costco run to bring back goodies for the team.

      4. Andy the ex-Brit

        I currently work for the best boss I've ever had in well over a dozen bosses in my 25+ year career. No bachelor's degree, he worked his way up from a technician job.

        Unfortunately, he retires next month. I just need to last about 28 months with his replacement, then I can too.

        1. Bitsminer Silver badge

          The best boss I ever had lived and worked 3000km away and we only talked during the annual performance review.

          Can't beat that.

          1. Bebu Silver badge
            Windows

            Administrivia

            《we only talked during the annual performance review.

            Can't beat that.》

            Mine completed the online form and ran it past me to approve. :)

            No possibility of promotion or performance bonuses so was really only annoying administrivia.

            KPI: didn't screw up last year. [] not met [] below expectation [] met [×] exceeded

            Performance goals: not to screw up this year.

            If manglement had any appreciation of reality (and the realpolitik of their organisation) they would inflict orders of magnitude less damage but of course that reality is that they don't. :(

          2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            re: Best bosses

            One of the best bosses I ever worked for only spoke to me at 11:45 on Friday mornings. All he asked me was:

            "Is there anything you need me to do?"

            Wonderful, that project finished ahead of time and under budget.

            All the other managers in that company acted like inmates on day release from Broadmoor.

      5. JimboSmith Silver badge

        I used to do a regulatory function as part of a job I had. I had to report items (and I'm being deliberately vague because I might identify myself) to a certain external body every month. One day after we were taken over I was told that I was about to become surplus to requirements and at risk of redundancy along with others. And low it came to pass that I was made redundant. Suddenly they realised that I did a specialised job as part of my work and was asked to help. Could I train a senior manager and a cocky kid who had just graduated from university (in Classics) ? Not wanting to make waves I agreed to do two sessions of training for them. This was far less than they needed, given the attitude and attention paid, but I explained how to map and merge two sets of data from two different pieces of software/databases and generate the report. All you had to do then was chase the missing data which the report highlighted as not being there.

        A month after I left I had a call from the university grad now panicking and much less cocky. Unsurprisingly she couldn't understand anything she'd written in notes taken in the training.I said she should talk to the manager but strangely he couldn't remember anything either apparently. I said I would charge to do more training or to come in and fix it at which point they were less interested. I believe they were fined far more than the cost of hiring me back for a day. They then hired a firm to produce an automated software method of doing this. That took a long time to iron out all the bugs and I understand more fines were issued. Turns out the manager had only been there to check that I was actually doing the training.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          One, additional, thing I pull out of that is that company's understanding of "training". It's not training until the point that the trainee has actually been observed ( and coached if required) to actually perform the task and deal with any issues- more than once.

          Because 1) Theory is never the same as practice. 2) Even the best trainer will abbreviate, elide or just plain miss some steps, because they have at least some parts of the process ingrained and automated so they don't think about it. And 3) Even the best trainee will miss, misunderstand, forget or confuse some bits because we're only human, we have limited short term memory and concentration, and because that's what we do..

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Yes, the "doing" part of training is a very important stage. Much of the "training" we get these days is online presentations, only very rarely even "live" (by Teams/Zoom) with an actual person presenting, and then a multi-choice question/answer at the end. Mostly it's a case of rushing through the presentation as quickly as possible then completing the questionnaire while it's still fresh in the short term memory.

            I came across a saying many years ago;

            What I see, I forget.

            What I read, I remember.

            What I do, I understand.

            1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              The training you complain about is what I call "bulimic learning". Binge in, purge out, forgotten. Most useless style, but that is what the world seems to want instead of knowledge and understanding of a subject.

              I usually write a lot up, on paper, during important things to learn. Once it got through my head and out of my hand it stays better in my mind. Though that does not fit the usual "2 Minutes read" the teaching material says on top.

            2. Eclectic Man Silver badge
              Joke

              Seeing and remembering

              The comedian and medical doctor Phil Hammond* tells a story / joke that is both appalling and instructive.

              At the start of his medical training he and the other students were addressed by their tutor thusly:

              "In medicine you must be disgusted at NOTHING!"

              At which he inserted his finger into the anus of the (human) corpse next to him and then into his mouth.

              Then he got each student to do the same. (Hammond says it tasted of disinfectant.)

              Then addressed them again:

              "The other essential is OBSERVATION! The OBSERVANT among you will have noticed I inserted my middle finger into the anus, and my index finger into my mouth."

              Lessons well and truly learned.

              * https://www.drphilhammond.com

          2. Sherrie Ludwig

            It's not training until the point that the trainee has actually been observed ( and coached if required) to actually perform the task and deal with any issues- more than once.

            I have always gone by the motto, "see one, do one, teach one", repeat until the "teach one" can be at least explained fully to a person unacquainted with the system as a whole.

        2. Bebu Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          At least...

          《train a senior manager and a cocky kid who had just graduated from university (in Classics)》

          At least the kid would know what a Pyrrhic victory was. :)

          The manager being rarely ever exposed to, or responsible for, any other kind - not so much.

          1. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Re: At least...

            《train a senior manager and a cocky kid who had just graduated from university (in Classics)》

            At least the kid would know what a Pyrrhic victory was. :)

            The manager being rarely ever exposed to, or responsible for, any other kind - not so much.

            I didn’t think the Harry Enfiled “Tim nice but Dim” character was based on an actual person until I met that manager. As for the graduate, she knew everything already you understand, that’s why her notes were sketchy at best. There’s only so far in life large mammary glands will get you and that’s something she needed to learn.

      6. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        The Reason So Many People Automatically Hate *All* Managers

        ... is because so many people never have had a good manager, and so don't realize that they exist, though they truly do.

        A good boss is unobtanium.

        1. Bebu Silver badge

          Re: The Reason So Many People Automatically Hate *All* Managers

          《... is because so many people never have had a good manager, and so don't realize that they exist, though they truly do.》

          Not sure about unobtainium (t1/2 < tp < 1qs) but dark matter might be favourite although I suspect its the quintessential component of all management.

          A competent manager would be heaven sent or a non-interfering incompetent one woud be refreshing. (I quite liked young Mr Grace :)

          1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

            Re: The Reason So Many People Automatically Hate *All* Managers

            a non-interfering incompetent one woud be refreshing.

            There are three types of managers. In order of descending desirability they are:

            Type I: Competent/Active

            Type II: Incompetent/Inactive

            Type III: Incompetent/Active

            1. Julz

              Hey

              What about us Competent/Inactive managers?

            2. pirxhh
              Childcatcher

              Re: The Reason So Many People Automatically Hate *All* Managers

              Early in my career, I had a very good manager.

              He had only a very limited knowledge of the subject matter (IT), but he was good at networking and managing his peers and the ones above him. Who also knew that he (marketing major) was not too technical, so he could always say "I'll check with my technical people and get back to you" without losing face.

              His successor was way more technically adept (and a decent if not great manager), but he sometimes felt pressured to agree to something that would require a well-oiled time machine to achieve.

  2. Necrohamster Silver badge
    Joke

    "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

    He's a wiser man than me.

    My motto is "May The Bridges I Burn Light My Way".

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Evil Auditor Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

      I carefullyresentfully decide which bridges to burn. But even in hindsight they turned out to be the right ones.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

        Burning Bridges by Mr Mission Impossible theme - Lalo Schifrin.

        1. Shooter
          Happy

          Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

          Time to watch Kelly's Heroes again!

    3. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

      "My motto is "May The Bridges I Burn Light My Way"."

      I don't burn all my bridges; some I leave standing for nostalgic reasons. But I have never regretted a single bridge I did burn, even if to an objective observer it would have appeared to be a bad choice. Sometimes it's better for your mental health to just strike that match.

    4. Anonymous Anti-ANC South African Coward Bronze badge
      Pint

      Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

      My motto is : "The North remembers".

      Halt! Bierzeit! ===>

    5. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

      Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

      "A lack of planning on your behalf does not constitute an emergency on mine"

    6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

      Mine is "Life is too short to bear a grudge so you just have to do the most you can."

      1. IanRS

        Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

        Life is too short to bear a grudge. Therefore you need to make it a really intense grudge if you only have 40 years left to bear it for!

      2. AkodoGilador
        Coat

        Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

        I have to ask: the most what? Damage?!

        Alex

    7. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

      The point of burning bridges is so that NEITHER they - nor I - ever walk back over them again.

      It's literally a self-defence mechanism.

      Say you burn the bridge with a new and horrible boss and then walk. People say "But what if you go to another job years later and that boss is on the interview panel?" Then I just found another company that I never want to work for, because they hired the person I never want to work for again, and I presume they know what they hired (and if not, I still don't want to work there).

      A kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

      Be careful what bridges you burn, sure, of course. But if I burn a bridge and then feel tempted to cross that river at that same point again? Yeah, I need to stop and think carefully about what I'm doing. I burnt that bridge for a VERY good reason. And if I ever feel I made a mistake, maybe I'm not good at deciding what bridges to burn. (Hint: I'm EXTREMELY good at deciding what bridges to burn!).

      I dance in the light of my burning bridges, and only hope that they can see me from the darkness of the opposite riverbank.

      1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

        I dance in the light of my burning bridges, and only hope that they can see me from the darkness of the opposite riverbank.

        Being backlit by the flames makes one an easily-hit target.

        T'is better to anonymously observe, from a good distance, the bridge being hit by a large, air-dropped container of dioxygen difluoride, and softly crowing to oneself: 'Ha-ha!'

        (Icon for burning bridges.)

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

          "Being backlit by the flames makes one an easily-hit target."

          If your are backlit by the flames, you burned it while on the wrong side! :-)

    8. CountCadaver Silver badge

      Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

      The best defence is a good offence or mutually assured destruction i.e. vaguely intimate you know where the bodies are buried without being too specific, just enough to make them ponder what exactly you do know and how big the shit storm would be if certain bodies got unearthed....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

        Once upon a time my department had an away day in Northamptonshire at a team building event. We had a thoroughly boring day solving puzzles as a team and plotting how to eliminate the people running the course in the most painful ways. The latter not actually part of the course but boy did it help us bond as a team.

        That night we were staying at a local hostelry and many things went on. Most of them alcohol fuelled and some people didn’t remember much about the previous evening. Some did and wished feverishly that they didn’t. Anyway time passed and things were forgotten, new faces appeared and some disappeared. It was at a colleague’s leaving do about two years later that I asked if the departing female coworker fancied dinner. She said in an angelic voice that I must remember she is a happily married woman thanks all the same. I questioned the ‘happily married’ bit reminding her that I had been on the away day and the night at the hotel

        Her reply was spat at me with venom and was along the lines of What Happens in Vegas Stays In Vegas. Being the saint what I am, I’d gone to bed early that night and knew nothing of any goings on between others. So it came as a total surprise when she told me to shut up, forget about that night and just go away. She was the last person I would have expected to do anythinh.

      2. Bebu Silver badge
        Windows

        A bit too literal...

        《intimate you know where the bodies are buried without being too specific, just enough to make them ponder what exactly you do know and how big the shit storm would be if certain bodies got unearthed....》

        A bit too literal in the BOFH's case. ;)

        The carpet coffins are a dead give away but it would require a soul braver, or more foolhardy than I to intimate any such thing to said BOFH. I am certain he gets a bulk discount on carpet and equally that the firm pays for it.

    9. chivo243 Silver badge
      Go

      Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

      Bridges away! Just like a Disco Inferno! Let me help you with those matches!

      -and

      Some bridges won't burn, I tried, and new management paid dearly to get me to cross it.

      1. mirachu

        Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

        True, some bridges need explosives.

    10. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

      A quote I heard: “Never burn bridges. Either leave them standing, or blow them up to smithereens”.

    11. HMcG

      Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

      I don't burn many bridges, but those I do burn, I use Thermite on.

      1. Zoopy

        Re: "And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them."

        You are a most interesting man.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Being polite is great

    But I wouldn't have answered many questions. Upon hearing that it was my old company, given the situation, I would have quickly said "Sorry, I'm not available" and I would have hung up.

    Don't have time to waste with cheating liars.

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Being polite is great

      Not even enough time to hear that they're in the shit and revel in the fact that you could help them but won't because of the way they treated you?

      A nice bit of karma is good for the soul.

    2. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Being polite is great

      " I would have quickly said "Sorry, I'm not available""

      I'd have done it a little differently. I'd have given them a figure for a day rate and swung the lead with it.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Being polite is great

        Don't get mad, get even. And if possible, get ahead.

      2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: Being polite is great

        "I'd have done it a little differently. I'd have given them a figure for a day rate and swung the lead with it."

        Exactly. Be polite, but always know your value. Desperate people tend to have deep pockets.

        1. Peter Ford

          Re: Being polite is great

          The person I'm most likely to be contacted by to help with things I used to do when I worked for them probably doesn't have enough money to pay a decent hourly rate. That's the main reason I'm not working there any more...

          1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

            Re: Being polite is great

            Still doesn't stop you saying "yes I'd be happy to help, here's my rate. Payable a month in advance.".

            Then you're being cooperative and a team player, whilst ensuring that the probability they will actually retain your services is essentially zero.

      3. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Being polite is great

        And you're starting to be billed in 30 seconds...

        1. short a sandwich

          Re: Being polite is great

          With a 4 hour minimum.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Being polite is great

            With a 4 hour week minimum.

      4. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Being polite is great

        Never one to hold a grudge when there's good money to be made. They're just unaware that you've added the "asshole boss" premium to your rates.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Being polite is great

          They're just unaware that you've added the "asshole boss" premium to your rates.

          Don't forget the surcharge for dangerous, unhealthy (your mental health) environment.

        2. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: Being polite is great

          "...added the "asshole boss" premium to your rates."

          I always thought it was called the "Wanker Tax".

          1. phils

            Re: Being polite is great

            I like the jumping frog fee.

            https://27bslash6.com/bob.html

            1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Count me as a convert

      5. AlbertH
        Mushroom

        Re: Being polite is great

        I'd have given them a figure for a day rate and swung the lead with it.

        On the few times I've been in that situation, my Consultancy Rate has risen to exceed the monthly turnover of the clowns begging for help. I have never needed that kind of work, so I make sure - in the most obvious way possible - that they can't afford to pay me and that they'd really fouled up! In a couple of instances, it has resulted in the demise of those companies.

    3. UCAP Silver badge

      Re: Being polite is great

      Personally I would have listened carefully and politely to them, got all the details of what they need to get sorted, then give them a truly eye-watering price to do the work and insist on a contract before doing anything.

      1. Necrohamster Silver badge

        Re: Being polite is great

        Ah snap, great minds think alike :D

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Being polite is great

        And not revealed that I didn't have the documentation

      3. usbac Silver badge

        Re: Being polite is great

        I have a different take on this.

        About two years ago I left a job where I had been there for about 17 years. For most of that time, I got along with my boss very well. Then, something changed (nobody could figure out why - personal issues we thought?). He started being an absolute raving jerk to everyone. People started leaving right an left.

        Over about the last ten years, I developed a lot of the software that the company operated on. When I announced that I was leaving, there was a bit of panic in upper management. They wanted me to agree to a contract rate to keep supporting them after I left. I probably could have named my price at that point. I told my boss "no".

        Shortly after, I get a call from the CEO "would I come see him?" He was a really good guy, and was always kind and generous to me. He asked me why I was leaving, and I could have tossed my boss under the bus, but I didn't (I think he actually know the reason, but didn't say anything). He asked me the same question about agreeing to a support contract and said "would I do it for him, personally". I told him "no, but if you have the occasional question, I will help you out where I can".

        The reason I would not agree any kind of paid deal is simple: my jerk boss would think he has power or control over me again. If they are paying me, he is back to being my boss.

        Pride is worth more than money.

        1. Sok Puppette

          Re: Being polite is great

          So, telling somebody that one of his employees has stopped helping his business and started damaging it isn't exactly "throwing that person under the bus". Why does the CEO deserve to get screwed over here?

          1. usbac Silver badge

            Re: Being polite is great

            For several reasons:

            1) I worked there for 17 years. If I needed to look for a job again (if the new employer doesn't work out, etc.), applications usually ask for contact information for "your immediate supervisor" at XYZ job. So, this guy may have to be a reference. Jerk or not, he knew I could have dumped in in it, and I didn't.

            2) The CEO's job is to know what his VP of technology is doing, and how well he is performing. This was not a big company, and having several people suddenly leave, that all work for the same guy, should be an indication that he needs get involved. I didn't need to tell him how to do his job. My former boss was quickly "retired" shortly after I left (despite being several years away from when he planned to retire).

          2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

            Re: Being polite is great

            Exactly this. So you let the asshole boss get away with it by not saying he's the reason, and at the same time you throw the CEO, a decent guy, under the bus by allowing a toxic situation to exist in his company and deliberately keep that from him?

    4. Necrohamster Silver badge

      Re: Being polite is great

      The only way I'd contemplate helping a former employer in a situation like this is to negotiate an eye-watering hourly rate, with the first month payable up front. The job will only take a few hours, but they don't need to know that.

    5. Tim 11

      Re: Being polite is great

      I would simply have informed them of my consultancy rate and terms for this project

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Being polite is great

      Define the enemy.

      In the mists of time, my employer was going through a sticky patch for reasons unknown to the then manglement and new manglement were brought in to wield hatchets. At the time I was suffering badly from the effects of stress and as I had union support they offered my a payoff.

      Like others, I understood the systems and knew they'd have problems down the line sooner or later. After reading the terms of the settlement, I "suggested" changing one terms - the "thou shalt not even think of touching any of our systems ever" to include "without authorisation". I knew that my beef was with the current set of manglement, and sooner or later they'd be gone (if the business survived) - my beef wasn't with my former colleagues, or any future manglement (I'd make my minds up about them if I had to). And as expected, at some point they (the new manglement) asked if I'd go in for a fee and help them with one or two things. So a bit more money out of them :-)

  4. TonyJ

    HP

    About a decade ago I did some work for HP at a defense firm.

    The HP chap in charge was a classic sociopath. He had to micromanage everyone, was constantly rude and derogatory and liked to hold crucial information in his head then berate people for bothering him to try and get it.

    And that's just some of his traits. He was genuinely obnoxious and a bully.

    After a final bust up with him after he once again changed a process without telling me (proved I wasn't on the email chain - of course it was our fault for not sharing the information!) - I decided enough was enough. Life's too short and all that and there were better contracts, I decided not to renew.

    A few weeks before, he called me to tell me (remembering I'd already said I wouldn't renew) to tell me that I wasn't getting renewed.... eh? I know.. I told you, remember?

    About two or three months later he reached out to me to ask if I was looking for work because he had an opening in the team.

    I always try not to burn bridges but in this case it was a real struggle and I might've laughed.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: HP

      "About two or three months later he reached out to me to ask if I was looking for work because he had an opening in the team."

      Sure. For 7 figures, I'll prop you up. And for an extra 500k, I'll even take the fall for you.

      Let's see how deep those desperate pockets go.

    2. aerogems Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: HP

      I feel ya. First job out of college was for a contracting company which had a contact with a small local university to do hardware repairs. Walking in, I had no idea that the on-site supervisor and my boss at the contracting place had a long history and basically hated each other's guts. More than once I was basically used as an excuse for the on-site supervisor to call up my boss and yell at him by being sent into no-win situations. Then, after a couple of months, and some of the university employees helping me out a little, that trick stopped working so she'd give me some kind of assignment and then decide to change the deliverables as soon as I completed work.

      When she was in the office, it was just deadly silent and serious. The couple of times she took the day off, all of a sudden everyone's talking to one another, joking around... it was like the difference between a funeral and an office party.

      To this day I don't know how that woman stayed in that job as long as she did. My boss' idea that she had incriminating photos of the Pope (it was a Jesuit university) seems as good a reason as any given it was widely known there was an incident where she pushed someone down some stairs. Not to mention she told me in no uncertain terms that I was expected to defraud Dell and Apple by coming up with fake diagnoses if certain people wanted new parts, but I couldn't find anything wrong. But it did sometimes work in my favor. Plenty of times all I had to do was say, "I work in Diane's department" and people would just give me this, "you poor bastard" look and be quite agreeable to almost anything.

      1. Bebu Silver badge
        Windows

        BOFHess?

        《there was an incident where she pushed someone down some stairs》

        Not all fiction but the trick is not to be observed (by the still living) and not get caught.

        Open(able) windows, three or more floors up from the parking lot, always trump stairs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: BOFHess?

          works for Putin

        2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: BOFHess?

          Bastard Operator from Hell-ess?

          Still BOFH, shirley.

          1. Great Southern Land

            Re: BOFHess?

            >>Bastard Operator from Hell-ess?

            Surely it would be Bastard Operatrix from Hell?

  5. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Might Travis have kept any notes describing how to revive the machine?

    Had he answered "yes", they would have fscked him all over for not returning all the information that belonged to the company.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Ooh that's evil.

      1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

        Sure, but on the other hand, keeping these pictures was probably a breach of his employment terms. If he had wanted to help, it would have been safer for him to "remember" all the information rather than hand over the pics.

      2. ecofeco Silver badge

        Not just evil but a common occurrence.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Always consider the consequences. Some time ago A Large Company came to the end of their contract, perfectly amicable but their system was now old and they chose not to pursue a more modern solution with us. They confirmed historical access was not required for their hosted data, and it should definitely be shortly deleted. A request was submitted to remove all their hosted data and it was actioned.

        A couple of months later the company came back and wondered, could we possibly do a data extract for them? The request cascaded from account managers down to muggins.

        The data had been deleted, and the retention period for backup exceeded.

        However, what's this?! Is it an old development copy of their database used for support and development prior to the mandate of Thou Shalt Get Customer Permission To Copy Data From Production? It might even be able to return data for the customer.

        Should you

        A) Confirm all the data were not actually deleted contrary to the customer's wishes and go ahead with potentially gaining a reasonable amount of money from a data extract. There couldn't possibly be any potential unwanted consequences to this whatsoever.

        or

        B) *click drag whirr crunch*. I'm sorry all data have been expunged

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          For such questions, it is always B.

        2. Bebu Silver badge
          Windows

          Lie

          《A) Confirm all the data were not actually deleted contrary to the customer's wishes and go ahead with potentially gaining a reasonable amount of money from a data extract. There couldn't possibly be any potential unwanted consequences to this whatsoever.》

          "Sorry all the data was expunged but we still have the hard disks whose logic boards were fried ages ago by a lightening damaging a server that might have had an old copy of your data.

          "We can retain data recovery expertise on a cost recovery+ basis for a best effort attempt (prepayment required) to try to restore all or part of your data.

          Just ensure you can put your hands on a dozen or so completely dead*, sufficiently old drives☆ in case subpoenas and warrants start flying. ;)

          Doesn't anyone actual archive their records or data? BACKUP ≠ ARCHIVE !

          * oddly in my career I always seemed to have had boxes of old dead(ish) drives (scsi, ide, sata, sas etc) although in this use case I would utterly destroy the magnetic media before depolyment.:)

          ☆ a rookie mistake to paint an old master on a contemporary canvas.

          1. TSM

            Re: Lie

            > Doesn't anyone actual archive their records or data? BACKUP ≠ ARCHIVE !

            We did that once, moved a whole whack of stuff off our fileservers into archival storage.

            When, ten or so years later, a need arose to access one of the archived databases, nobody still at the company could remember any details about where all that archived material had been sent.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Being polite is great

    Nearing the end of my working life, I have learned to never be unnecessarily impolite or unkind.

    Quite a number people I encountered as mere inconsequential students or interns, I met later in life as people who had a strong influence on my career.

    And never underestimate the power of gossip. A potential future employer or boss might learn about you from a person you treated (un)kindly earlier in life.

    1. Sam not the Viking Silver badge

      Re: Being polite is great

      Apart from being the proper course in life, being polite is good practice. Customers re-order. Trainees become customers. Colleagues start or join new companies and need staff.

      There is always space for banter in the right form; give and take. My policy is never to be rude to someone I don't like.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Being polite is great

        "There is always space for banter in the right form."

        In Australia it's easy to see if someone likes you. If they are happily taking the pi$$ with you (sorry making jokes about and with you, for the non-Aussie speaking folk) then they like you.

        If they are super polite and formal, then they REALLY dont like you...

        1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

          Re: Being polite is great

          As I've heard it: Australia, where you call your mates "cunt" and a cunt "Mate..."

          1. Spamolot

            Re: Being polite is great

            Congratulations! You just passed stage four of the Australian citizenship application...

          2. Laura Kerr

            Re: Being polite is great

            Same in Scotland!

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Being polite is great

      "A potential future employer or boss might learn about you from a person you treated (un)kindly earlier in life."

      Never trample on students, interns, and underlings. They may become your allies in the future, or your enemies. Better the former.

      Never ever disrespect the secretary (or PA). Not only is that woman horrifically underappreciated, she's probably also a major reason why the company hasn't gone to the wall. She'll also remember your transgression long after you've forgotten her existence.

      But if the boss treats you like that? Burn that bridge, baby, and then smite him with a biblical vengeance. The sort of people who would listen to what a petulant sociopathic narcissistic manchild has to say is probably one themselves, and it can save you having to deal with the same shit twice.

      1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

        Re: Being polite is great

        "Do you want the man in charge, or the woman who knows everything" - sign in a local chip shop for years.

        Also, advice from the BoFH, remember the janitorial staff. They empty the waste bins of the high ups...

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Being polite is great

          Also, advice from the BoFH, remember the janitorial staff. They empty the waste bins of the high ups...

          "Ladies Who Do" is a great film on that very subject, starring the wonderful Peggy Mount.

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: Being polite is great

            I was changing planes at Houston international once, and needed the toilet rather urgently. I approached a gentleman of colour who was sweeping the floor and asked: "excuse me, sir, could you tell me where the toilets are, please? He seems somewhat startled to be addressed in that manner but gave me perfect directions to the nearest convenience, so I thanked him. I do wonder whether it was being addressed as "sir' by a white man, or my English accent that startled him, hopefully the latter.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: Being polite is great

              hopefully the latter.

              I am willing to bet it was the "please", but given the location, I can't completely rule out the "sir" instead of "boy".

            2. Not Yb Bronze badge

              Re: Being polite is great

              I think the surprise was that most people look for the restroom signs, and don't bother asking anyone. Sweeping an airport is probably one of the most boring jobs available.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Being polite is great

                >> needed the toilet rather urgently

                > most people look for the restroom signs

                I might want a rest afterwards, but right now I *need* the loo!

      2. Dr. Ellen

        Re: Being polite is great

        I almost always get along well with secretaries -- as a writer and publisher (fannish subtype) I almost always know what she's doing, and can probably do it myself. But I somewhat lose it when the secretary can't do her job. Had one with problems formatting text. It turned out she was of the typewriter generation, and simply could NOT come near the right edge of the page without hitting the Enter key. Now I myself am of the pen-and-ink generation, picked up typing in high school, and met my first computer - IBM 704 - in 1959 or 60 - and didn't have that much trouble with using the Enter key, or not, at the appropriate time. I sat down at her desk and demonstrated the computer would do it for her. After half an hour of trying to convince her she fled sobbing to the Director and said I was being cruel to her.

        I guess I could have been. My voice had certainly gotten louder and more insistent. But that woman was aggressively insistent upon her ignorance, there and at many other times.

        Being polite is great. But unless you're an angel, it isn't always possible.

        1. Old Used Programmer

          Re: Being polite is great

          My late wife made the transition from typewriter to computer--by way of the MTST AND MTSC--to the point that she wrote an entire novel using vi and nroff.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Being polite is great

            > from typewriter to computer ... she wrote an entire novel using vi and nroff.

            Which is fine, as hitting return every time she got to the right hand margin works just as well for vi & nroff as it does for the typewriter.

            It is only these damned "wordprocessors" that decided to redefine "carriage return" as "new paragraph".

            Turns back to article being written in LaTeX with Notepad++[1]

            [1] yes, it *is* possible to do your document layout properly under Windows.

        2. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: Being polite is great

          In that case: Let her do her thing and then increase the font size. Or add three words to the first sentence.

          1. herman Silver badge

            Re: Being polite is great

            That is eeevul!

        3. Phones Sheridan Silver badge
          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: Being polite is great

            My mother had difficulties in the transition. Not with shoving the monitor off the desk (I nearly lost a mouthful of hot chocolate at that!), but simply because Ctrl is where Shift is supposed to be. Muscle memory had her pressing Ctrl by mistake and if the associated letter was 'A' then all the text turned blue and the next key pressed would replace everything with that one letter.

            Quick fix (after a lot of panic and retyping everything, she didn't realise there was an undo) was to teach her how the menus worked, then prise off the keycaps to remove the Ctrl keys.

        4. Detective Emil

          Re: Being polite is great

          In such cases, I find "The stupid computer does it this way and I'm afraid it's too dumb to learn your better way, so you'll just have to go along with it" is a good ploy.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Being polite is great

            Phrase that as

            > The stupid computer does it this way and I'm afraid it's too dumb to learn your way

            (I.e. leave out the snark) and that is an entirely accurate statement.

            Unfortunately.

            What, you don't think computers should act the way *we* would like them to, especially when it is something they could trivially do?

            You are happy convincing yourself that that key means "new paragraph" - well, sometimes it does, other times it means "new line", other times it means "execute" - but why should everyone, if that isn't comfortable/habitual for them?

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Being polite is great

              "What, you don't think computers should act the way *we* would like them to,"

              Not really. Basically, if you want the key to mean advance to a new line but don't actually add an explicit line break, then write your own program to do it. I have no problem if you choose to do that. If you choose to use the tool that's already there, spend a little time learning how it works instead of demanding that it do something there is a perfectly good reason for it not to do. As a programmer, I'm happy to explain how it works. I'm happy to explain why it does that. I'm happy to consider why an option to do things differently could be useful in a situation I hadn't considered. I am not happy adding lots of option switches for bad reasons then trying to work out all the other changes needed to accommodate a preference that the user could get around by spending a few minutes learning how it works.

    3. Triggerfish

      Re: Being polite is great

      I mean it's just good advice in general I think even out of the workplace.

    4. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: Being polite is great

      Never shit on the little people. The PA, the guy on reception, the security guy, the cleaner etc. One, why would you? they're working just as hard as you but in a different way. Two, often these are the people who will get you out of trouble when you fuck up. Grab the notebook you've forgotton, find a spot in the bosses diary etc.

      As other have said it's worth being decent to everyone that doesn't deserve to be treated badly, if you are burning a bridge make sure you mean it.

  7. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Do unto others

    > while senior management were scoundrels, maybe they were due a little kindness too

    Hmmm. Let's think about this .... no! Screw 'em.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A long time ago I contracted to another development company, after a few years the work dried up and we parted (on fairly good terms).

    About a year later one of their staff called me asking if we still had a copy of an old project as the server they had it on had committed suicide and nobody had noticed the backup had been failing.

    I went back through our old backups and found one from about a month before the project was complete, I explained what I had and that I knew it needed around 3 weeks work on it before it was ready to go live again.

    They hit the roof and started quoting their contract which included that as a subcontractor we were required to keep as a minimum monthly backups of all projects we were working on.

    I explained that was exactly what I had just offered to send them

    After a bit more shouting they wanted to know why we didn't have the complete project in our backups from the next month.

    I took great pleasure in pointing out that a couple of paragraphs further on in their contract was that once a project had been accepted by them as complete we were required to delete our copies of the complete project

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Mushroom

      People in a panic situation like that often get aggressive and try to make it someone else's fault. It's difficult to admit that you fucked up.

      I've found it best to let them vent a while, remain polite and suggest whatever I can to help the issue. More often than not they later acknowledge that they were being unreasonable and that they appreciate your help... if they fail to do this then the next time they have a problem I am significantly less helpful. Getting angry back at them doesn't help, unless you're actively trying to burn a bridge.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Getting angry back at them doesn't help, unless you're actively trying to burn a bridge.

        If/when I am actively trying to burn a bridge, they won't notice how angry I am as I am cool as a cucumber. But I will make sure they are on that bridge without escape when I am burning it.

    2. technos

      When this happened to me it was a mere six months. I'd done a few things for them over the years and I'd always been able to help previously, so someone figured I was holding out on them as some kind of extortion.

      Not even a full day passed between the call asking if I still had a copy and the lawyers sending me a nasty-gram via FedEx. I'd have been afraid, except the very same lawyers had been the ones to instruct me to delete the source code on the way out the door. New policy, they said, before handing me a form and asking me to sign. I'd even been smart enough to make a copy of it, which I faxed over to refresh their memories.

      I still wasn't gonna be a complete dick about it, even if they were willing to be, so I waited about a week for their situation to sink in and emailed a friend. "Y'know, it just occurred to me that, when we did the last beta, that we included the source tree on the CDs we sent the telecommuters. Some of those dudes are serious hoarders, so I bet one of them still has it."

      A copy turned up in someone's home-office in Taiwan.

      1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        (Former) Management's Attitude Directly Influences My Attitude

        ... some kind of extortion.

        Well, if I have info, and they want that info, and I'm under no contractual obligation to them to provide that info, I might choose to provide that info for a reasonable fee (even possibly for free).

        If they go into dick-mode on me, my fee, if I choose even to deal with them at all, will be ... less-reasonable. And it will be for cash, not a cheque, on the barrelhead.

      2. Great Southern Land

        >Not even a full day passed between the call asking if I still had a copy and the lawyers sending me a nasty-gram via FedEx.

        If that was me, that would be the end of my cooperation with them. Sending the lawyers in that quickly is bullying behaviour. From that point onwards, they can deal with my lawyers.

  9. jake Silver badge

    Once in the rain ...

    ... I stopped and helped a lady with a flat tire. After waving her on her way, I put my jack & lug wrench away, and carried on to my destination, somewhat dirtier & soggier than I wanted to be. When I arrived I apologized for my appearance, told the gal at the front desk that I was there to talk to the Boss about bidding on a network upgrade. The secretary spoke into the phone, and the Boss came out to meet me. He allowed as to how most folks bidding on lucrative contracts at least took a little care with their grooming, and told me to fuck off. In those words. As I was leaving, his wife walked out of the office. It was the lady I had helped. Later that afternoon, I got an apologetic call from the guy, offering me the job. I told him to fuck off and hung up the phone.

    1. Martin Summers

      Re: Once in the rain ...

      I couldn't help but think of the LinkedIn "It was the dog" story when I read that.

      https://www.linkedin.com/posts/phoenikhs_linkedinstories-mondaymotivation-motivationalstory-activity-6713675197624545280-Yp8O?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_android

  10. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    Where I used to work, before we got sensible and started enforcing logical names for our PCs, I had an already elderly 486 based PC. It was woefully underpowered for doing anything remotely useful on NT4 (in fact it's specs were the listed minimum for NT4) , so was painful to use and frequently complained it was running out of something, whether that something was disk space or RAM.

    But, I loved that PC. I think it's because it was the one I learned NT on. I think the fact it failed so much, and I had to help it through the most basic things, humanised it for me. I felt as though I was nursing the thing through troubles. The boss was very relaxed on naming at the time (we only had a few PCs to manage, so had no real need for a coherent naming scheme). He called his machine "Chelsea", and I called mine "Marvin", after the paranoid android from HHTTG. Some others that spring to mind were Atlas and Zeus, Lister, Mickey (after the mouse), and Snow White, which was the main PC in a department where they named the other ones after the various dwarves.

    At that time, we did allow the users to chose their own name, but if they didn't, we would name the machine with their surname, then their initial.

    Where I work now, we just name them after the asset tag stuck to them. Much more logical, and functional, but not nearly as interesting.

    1. BenDwire Silver badge

      OOh ! I had a Marvin, and a Zaphod too. Both horribly underpowered, but I have fond memories of them both.

      I too went through a phase of naming machines after their user, but that gave rise to the problem of new staff having to use old staff's machines, making them feel less 'included' in the existing team. A lack of my time meant that the obvious wipe & reinstall* didn't get done for ages, unless I spent the weekend at work catching up - I was the MD of the place, and IT was an after-hours exercise as we couldn't afford a proper BOFH.

      Changing the naming scheme to something less personalised saved me a lot of hassle.

      *Inevitable the username was similarly personalised, and early versions of Windows (Workgroups) made that hard to expunge properly.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        The cluster of Sun workstations I used and later administered had been named by the initial sysadmin, who was Scottish and like his whiskey. Mine was called Ardbeg.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          I am not Scottish, but I like my whisky (and whiskey) just fine as well. The PC I am typing this comment on is called Highland Park.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            The PC I am typing this comment on is called Highland Park.

            I, too, have memories of that shopping centre; and, best of all, it is just across the road from the Fencibles United AFC ground. Perhaps it is a bit too close to Pakuranga, mind.

            :-)

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: The PC I am typing this comment on is called Highland Park.

              I don't know that shopping centre and from my comment you might infer that Highland Park is also a whisky (in this case from the Orkney Islands).

          2. fromxyzzy

            I'm imagining there's a shovelware netbook somewhere named Kentucky Gentleman.

      2. David Robinson 1

        One would have hoped that Zaphod was dual CPU.

        1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

          Nah, dual head display!

        2. BenDwire Silver badge

          Zaphod

          Unfortunately it was a 386sx ultimately runnng WFW3.11, but it could manage basic tasks (Quattro Pro) and some others (Doom & Descent). It took me 25 years after that to get a dual headed computer, and one with 8 cores, but it's called Homer for some reason ... maybe bacause I no longer need to go to work.

      3. Great White North

        Device Names

        Larry, Moe & Curly (the laser printer), Harpo, Groucho, Chico & Karl (the plotter).

        1. Christoph

          Re: Device Names

          Alpher, Bethe and Gamow.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A company I used to work for had Lord of the Ring character names for servers.

      For my own server names - Beavis and Butthead insults. Didn't get any further than Fartknocker!

      1. David Robinson 1

        Did they use a Tolkien Ring network?

        1. AndyMTB

          No, it was dial-up via a Gandalf modem.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            a MSP I worked at called its main FireWall Gandalf, after all none shall pass!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A now deceased former employee named all of our cable utilities after Tolkien characters and places. I’m certainly not going to break that tradition!

        The water cooling model is, for instance, named Rauros after the waterfall. There is an oddity where the sequel application to Gimli was Gloin.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Naming systems after Tolkien characters officially became old after I ran across the fifth server named "Bilbo" in a single day (two at Berkeley, one each at Stanford, San Jose State and Mission College). That was in roughly 1980.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Another system I saw at ABB had a bunch of test accounts named after Deep Space 9 characters. And in a certain banking outfit, the training server had lots of (simulated) mortgage applications for Downing Street!

    3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      My first job was at Data General. We got Sun workstations to run our schematic tools on, and they needed names. Mine was "ficus", after the plant in my office. I learned a lot of Unix from that system, and followed up by learning to use Linux...which is what's running on the machine ("Snape") that I'm typing this on...30 years later.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Mine was "ficus", after the plant in my office.

        I remember visiting some office where the plant was called Floella.

    4. heyrick Silver badge
      Happy

      Avon, Blake, Orac, and Servalan. The latter was the network server.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
        Joke

        re: Servalan

        After a certain episode in 'Blake's Seven' the (male) chair of the York University wargaming society was addressed as "Madam President".

        (Yes, that dates me.)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        When I worked for a managed services company one customer had their servers named: Curly, Moe, Larry and Shemp.

        Later, I worked for a large Casino company, and all of our servers were named after famous gangsters: Capone, Seigel, Gambino, etc. It was a little surreal considering who "really" owned the company!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I worked at a company where we named all our servers after drugs. Acid, Skunk, Whizz, etc.

    5. Not Yb Bronze badge

      So many computer rooms full of computers named after Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It must be in IT DNA to do it that way at some point, every time.

      Currently we use music related names. "A, B, C, C#, D, E, F, G"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Oh yes. The problem was that we ran out of names as the network grew. For a while we invented new dwarves; Snotty, Stroppy and Bolshy were the non-NSFW names that come to mind. Eventually of course we had to switch to numbers.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        What happened to B♭?

      3. gnasher729 Silver badge

        “Currently we use music related names. "A, B, C, C#, D, E, F, G" “

        Just a few days ago I found out that path names with a # inside are problematic for use in URLs. Those and paths containing a question mark. Will be confused with queries and fragments.

      4. DropBear
        Flame

        TRAITOR! On this side of the pond it's Do (a deer, a female deer), Re, Mi, Fa, Sol...

    6. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

      I applied for a job at Hull Uni, after the interview, I was shown the server room.

      Leia, Luke, Hans, Chewbacca, Millennium Falcon...

      1. Pomgolian

        Norse gods

        Back in the day when I briefly worked at Hull Uni, it was all Norse Gods, mostly on Sun SPARC kit

        1. JimC

          Re: Norse gods

          When I worked for a local authority, although all internal stuff had boring but meaningful code names, we decided we wanted something more obscure for external facing devices, so everything on the DMZ was named after villages in our territory. The particular advantage was so many unique names, although we avoided anything long and hyphenated.

        2. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

          Re: Norse gods

          These were compaq proliants.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      BIG BAD WOLF

      Long ago when Netware was king I worked in Support mostly installing networks in businesses that had never had a network before. Interesting challenge at times. New servers were always named FS1 except for one install I did for a large commercial pig farm. New server was BIG_BAD_WOLF. We all got a chuckle about it including their IT guy. About a week later I was sent back to rename it as someone in the office was offended :(

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it not wisely written thus

    Thou should not trample on people as you make your upward journey, ascending the dizzying heights for, verily, those are the same people that you shall pass on your way down should you slip and fall.

    1. Bill Gray

      Re: Is it not wisely written thus

      ...or "the toes you tread upon today may be connected to the posterior you will have to kiss tomorrow"

  12. GlenP Silver badge

    I've had a couple...

    I've had a couple of post-redundancy contacts from former employers, where they seem to forget that they deemed my role surplus to requirements!

    One I couldn't help them with anyway, it was the admin password on some NT machines in the CAD office that IT hadn't been directly involved in - my only involvement was towing the supplier's van back off the very wet grass after they'd decided to back it up to a window to save carrying the kit very far (I had a Range Rover at the time).

    The other suddenly decided they desperately needed help a few weeks after I'd left. As I was signing on benefits at the time, and you have to be careful with re-employment after redundancy anyway, I told them I could only do 15 hours a week, split over two days, at a, for the time, fairly eye-watering daily rate and with all expenses paid. They had to go for it and I banked a few thousand pounds as a result.

  13. Lazlo Woodbine

    Fire in haste, regret at leisure

    About 20 years ago I was let go by my employer. a large retailler. I was assistant manager of one of their busier branches, the manager was a clueless oaf who rarely left his office.

    Around the same time as I was run out of town, the company changed their IT support contractor.

    One day I recieved a call from my old boss, he'd somehow tracked me down at my new employer, "ahh, we had a power cut last night, the server shut down and the backup has failed, you wouldn't happen to remember the password would you, the support company don't have it on record."

    Now, if he'd been at all supportive of me whilst I'd been in dispute with the senior management I'd have told him where to find the password, but instead he'd been an utter shit who'd locked himself in his office while I was being disciplined for his mistakes, so I let him stew for a while, then phoned someone else at the shop to tell them the password.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Fire in haste, regret at leisure

      "you wouldn't happen to remember the password would you"

      "Yes, don't you?"

      1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Fire in haste, regret at leisure

        "you wouldn't happen to remember the password would you"

        "Let me think. It's got an 'ow' sound. No, wait, it's got two of them. And some numbers. Twelve, no, fifteen, no, twenty. That's right. Twenty thousand pounds"

        1. Spazturtle Silver badge

          Re: Fire in haste, regret at leisure

          Careful with that, UK law considers passwords to be the same as physical keys, so they remain the property of your employer. What you are suggesting can land you in the dock for extortion.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Fire in haste, regret at leisure

            Careful with that, UK law considers passwords to be the same as physical keys, so they remain the property of your employer. What you are suggesting can land you in the dock for extortion.

            Just prove try to prove that, the easy defense is that you are trolling somebody in a vindictive way, what normal person would even try to remember such a password instead of storing it in a secure location (like a safe)?

            1. Spazturtle Silver badge

              Re: Fire in haste, regret at leisure

              It doesn't need to be proven, if a judge asks you to provide the password and you don't then they can just throw you in prison for contempt.

              UK courts do not accept forgetting a password as a valid excuse for not providing it.

              The same applies if the police ask you to provide a password under a Section 49 notice of the Regulations of Investigatory Powers Act.

              Just don't fuck around with this sort of thing to try and troll somebody, just tell them to fuck off and block their number.

              1. gnasher729 Silver badge

                Re: Fire in haste, regret at leisure

                You are confusing things. If it’s your stuff (your computer, your hard drive) forgetting the password is no excuse. But it is if it’s someone else’s stuff and you shouldn’t have that password (anymore). Like servers of a company that fired you.

          2. Lazlo Woodbine

            Re: Fire in haste, regret at leisure

            That wasn't the case back then, this would have been 2003 or 4...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Fire in haste, regret at leisure

              RIPA was 2000.

          3. gnasher729 Silver badge

            Re: Fire in haste, regret at leisure

            “ Careful with that, UK law considers passwords to be the same as physical keys, so they remain the property of your employer. What you are suggesting can land you in the dock for extortion.”

            There is the sad, sad story of Nissan motors, Uzi Nissan, and the lawyers.

            Uzi Nissan had a small computer shop and registered www.nissan.com. A year later Nissan motors figured out the wanted that url. I would have offered mr Nissan a free Nissan car every four years for the rest of his life. Nissan motors called their lawyers instead.

            They f***** it up so much that Mr. Nissan couldn’t use his own URL, Nissan motors couldn’t, and they managed to make it impossible for Mr Nissan to ever sell the URL to Nissan motors. Right now, www.nissan.com is dead.

            (Apple was in the same situation once where some small shop had registered a URL that Apple would have lied, totally innocent. Apple sent a cheque for $25,000 and paid all the cost for a new URL and making all IT changes needed. $25,000 unexpected profit for the shop, and much cheaper than getting any lawyers. Or apple had a very good lawyer who charged them one hour for advice and they just followed it).

            Now this company needs good lawyers. Not aggressive lawyers who want to bury the opponent, but good lawyers who will find the best way to get the password.

            1. collinsl Bronze badge

              Re: Fire in haste, regret at leisure

              > Right now, www.nissan.com is dead.

              I think that's due to the person who owned it dying due to Covid complications - it was up until a few years ago.

              The court cases let him keep the domain but they effectively bankrupted him. Sad really.

    2. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Fire in haste, regret at leisure

      One day I recieved a call from my old boss, he'd somehow tracked me down at my new employer, "ahh, we had a power cut last night, the server shut down and the backup has failed, you wouldn't happen to remember the password would you, the support company don't have it on record."

      So, let me get this right, you left after a disciplinary process, and they did not change the System Administration password immediately?

      OK, let me get out my copy of ISO27001, Access Control section ...

      Why can I only set ONE 'FAIL' icon when this has two serious failures - not changing the admin password when someone who knows it leaves the company, and not writing the thing down?

    3. Bebu Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Fire in haste, regret at leisure

      《you wouldn't happen to remember the password would you, the support company don't have it on record.》

      I would have written it on a label I stuck on the bottom of the box, or on the inside of the lid etc, or on the gyprock wall next to my then desk in very light pencil. No password managers back then and little black books get mislaid and I can not ever remember passwords and nothing needed to be secured much above physical security.

      The gyprock walk came in handy when, affer a few years post my departure, someone had a pressing need to uninstall an antivirus application from a PC but needed a long lost organisational password. (It was a quite long randomly generated string.)

  14. aerogems Silver badge

    At a previous job I had an inkling that they were getting ready to try something, so being the only one who knew how to create restore images for the Macs, I decided it was a good time to delete all the old ones and start fresh. I then found plenty of other things to keep me busy so I didn't have time to recreate the images. This was all around the time Apple was switching from providing physical restore media to downloading the image off the Internet. The employer in question, for reasons I have never been able to fathom, insisted on using a cellular connection... inside a warehouse... with a metal frame. If a butterfly farted within 100 paces of that cellular modem, the connection would drop out, so forget about being able to download a couple GB of a restore image.

    Turns out I was right, they were gearing up to try something, so when I left, darn if I never had time to get around to redoing those restore images. I also let Apple know about a lot of the things going on at that particular place that were in violation of the AASP contract. Can't say for sure, but think Apple finally made good on their ever-present threat to rip up the contract with my employer not too long after. Hard to say for sure because it happened around the inflection point where the employer really started circling the drain in a noticeable way.

    Never had a past employer call me up later like this. I wish it would happen one day, and if/when that day comes, I think to give them correct sounding, but oh so very wrong, advice. Or at least tell them it will cost a truly eye watering consulting fee. Something like 3-4X what I was making before.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've mentioned before that my old employer asked various people for passwords for systems to be securely stored "just in case".

      Some time later, there was a company meeting that announced that there was a management buyout, nothing to worry about. Three days later - another meeting, 30% redundancies announced.

      Anyway, my colleague found out that during the meeting his passwords were changed. Mine? Erm.... never got round to writing them down, too busy!

      Some time later, I did get a call from the nice financial lady about a password for a server - gave her some half remembered hint - "Began with P or p? Ended with a vowel?" (Wasn't being awkward, couldn't remember exactly - password was something like, paranoid, paranoia, Paranoid, Paranoia may have 0 or 1 or 4 for some letters!)

      Went back to another company after a few years - wasn't allowed access to the systems, until something went wrong and I was the only one there who could fix it. Then I was allowed access..... "WTF?? This is my writing!!" (The issue was that the "technical" chap forwarded the MS exchange feed for all emails through his laptop, so he could "check" it. He went on leave, laptop at home and his mother unplugged the laptop to run the vacuum cleaner around, battery went flat and no one could get any emails! I managed to sort it, and it happened again a few weeks later. Was there for 13 years first time, and three months the second time!)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a joyful moment really

    Treated like shite by one employer but was the only person qualified to install a very specific very critical piece of software. Few months after leaving was called up and asked if I could come back and install said software. Rate for doing so was clearly a "I'm not doing it rate". No idea how they fixed it but it wasn't through me.

  16. Blofeld's Cat
    Devil

    Got to love an optimist ...

    Just this week I had a former employer who stiffed me about £2k on a project, ask me if I would do some modifications to the project for him. Price to be agreed later.

    I politely explained that unfortunately I was now retired and busy doing other things.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Got to love an optimist ...

      When I was self-employed, I would often add on a stupidity tax for those clients who were really annoying.

      If I have to sigh, bite my lip, and rouse myself in order to just walk in the door of a certain client, I'm making sure I'm compensated for it.

      And if I set it "too high" (cough) they would complain but often then just forget all about it. Which was exactly what I wanted.

      Nobody ever dared not to pay, though. I'd be into bailiffs and courts for that, for even the smallest amounts, let alone £2k.

    2. adam 40 Silver badge

      Re: Got to love an optimist ...

      I had a client who stiffed me for about £1200 while I was working away overseas, doing more than 37.5 hours a week because it was in Taiwan, and on a critical project.

      Unknown to me there had been a max hours edict from upper manglement for cost cutting.

      My middle manager didn't back me up up on my invoices, and they didn't even pay the 37.5 hours while they disputed.

      After several months of reminders I asked them to at least pay the 37.5, and the rest remained in dispute.

      5 years later it was apparent I wasn't getting another contract with them, so I took them to small claims for statutory interest. I got awarded £1500. By that time, Motorola had bought them, so had to pay, which was an added bonus! :-)

  17. Groo The Wanderer Silver badge

    I've been lucky - I never worked anywhere I detested. Some jobs weren't as much fun as others, but none were _bad_.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      I worked in one small group where the management was terrible. I stayed there because I needed the job, but as soon as there were other positions available in other groups, I moved. Same company, much better team leadership. At one reorg, in spite of my express request NOT to be put under the former team again, I was. This prompted a brief visit with the Director, who I knew from a previous employer, where I stated in very clear terms that I would not work for those people again, and reminded him that I had said so before the reorg. I was transferred to a different group.

      The rest of the people I've worked for have been varying shades of good. Some acceptable, some great. Though retired, I'm still on a "long leash" with my former employer, because I enjoy working for my boss, and I enjoy the work. Money's welcome, too.

  18. Howard Sway Silver badge

    It is a wise thing to be polite; consequently, it is a stupid thing to be rude

    Sure, but it has to work both ways. Especially once you've gone, as you are no longer in a subservient position to the boss, and should no longer be treated as an employee but as an equal.

    I remember getting an email after leaving somewhere from a team leader who had got used to me doing some of his work for him, asking how things worked that he should have known. I was busy at the time, so had no time to answer his huge list of questions about how stuff worked, and needed time to consider whether I would do so anyway, lest he got the impression that I was going to carry on doing his job for him whilst at my new employer. He solved my problem by sending an angry email the next day complaining that I hadn't replied quickly enough because he needed to know all the answers before a meeting and I'd now set back some unimportant arbitrary deadline and his problems were all my fault.

    I replied, copying in the departmental manager, pointing out that the code was all fully documented, and the answers to all his questions could be found there, now and in the future

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: It is a wise thing to be polite; consequently, it is a stupid thing to be rude

      "should no longer be treated as an employee but as an equal."

      When they really need something you're not an equal, you're a superior.

      1. TimMaher Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Superior.

        Very old joke ends with “Senior sir, senior. You are not my superior.”

  19. Lee D Silver badge

    Many such incidents, many not quite the same scale however.

    Work in schools, and one school hired a new "IT Coordinator" (teacher). He decided that he knew more than everyone.

    One of the things he did was bought a bunch of dictaphones (long along those things were obsolete) that saved in WMA format. And a piece of software (which was absolutely awful and had a million competitors that were better) that opened and used MP3 format audio.

    He insisted that I make them work together. Nope. First, I had no part in their purchasing. Second, they're incompatible. Third, I don't take orders.

    This went on for a few months. One day, when he was actually particularly nice, I implemented a workaround. If he saved the WMAs in a certain network location then 10 minutes later they would appear as MP3s in the same location. All automated.

    Not good enough.

    When I left a few months later, he tried to badger me for the administrator's passwords. Not going to happen. I asked why? Because, obviously, the administrator password would make these two incompatible file formats "just work", don't you know? That was seriously his argument.

    A few weeks later, I was still getting regular calls at my new workplace from him, determined to get the administrator's passwords. Claimed that the headmaster had told him to.

    I reported him to his employer and said I would never provide him with details. I had provided both the headmaster and a governor (who worked in IT) with full documentation including passwords before I left, had them both sign off on it, and told them they were responsible for those details going forward as I would be removing them from all my records.

    When I told him that, he got very shirty - because I said that all he has to do is get his headmaster to give him those passwords, or get his headmaster to speak to me and I'll do what I can to help if they've BOTH lost the passwords.

    Never heard from him again.

    The next employer I spent many years at, and with full knowledge of a very techy Bursar we took a number of shortcuts over the years to save money. These were done knowing full-well that eventually they would be undone, and a bog-standard expensive commercial product used in their place. We both talked the same language, we both knew the implications, we both understand the trade-offs.

    We met regularly, I compromised to save money, he compromised to make sure we still had systems I could manage. We saved a ton of money, everything did what was required (and more!), and we both had great fun with it.

    Then the headmaster changed. Basically gave the Bursar (my boss) a heart attack with stress. He left and - because of our relationship - not only gave me explicit warning of what was going to happen (including that I would be next-in-line), but also kept in touch to this day and helped me our enormously.

    When he left, exactly that happened. All the vaguely-technical stuff that a bursar would normally oversee got pushed to me with the blame for everything (and given that they were completely non-technical, it was almost impossible to argue the case in even the simplest of things).

    They ordered a full IT audit. Done. They never showed me the report. (But I was party to it, via a "friend"! And it was hilarious - it was basically saying "What more do you expect your IT guy to do, he's running the place on his own, doing a great job, everything's working, everything that you should have you do have, he's planning ahead, working to a tiny budget, he's paid under-market rate, he has no help, no outside support, no expertise in some of these things, and you refuse him holidays and reasonable adjustments?!").

    Anyway, they came up with a small one-liner list of "improvements" from the report. Basically nothing of consequence ("we should have a formal policy on X" - it was literally a sheet of A4 to write down what had been policy for decades! Took me about 10 minutes).

    I agreed to do them all, so long as they agreed to do all the points that they needed to do. They agreed. We set a deadline six months down the road.

    The next day, I presented evidence that I'd done all my bullet-points. They accepted that. They said no more.

    Six months later, I asked them for theirs. Nothing. Literally nothing. One of the points for them was "Decide who should be on a IT steering committee". They hadn't even bothered to do that. A post-it with my and the headmaster's name would have sufficed! Nothing!

    So I made an ultimatum... fix it or I go. Oh, and by the way, I know exactly what the full report said, even though you refused to show me, and none of your bullet-points actually address the real issues highlighted in it, so I want some word of what's happening with them too.

    Nothing.

    I turned up to the meeting where we were due to discuss this (second) deadline and they have invited a deputy head with a broken laptop to hijack it. The meeting turned to yelling and accusations that "nothing worked". So I asked if they'd filed a ticket. They went white. Having staff file tickets, as was the policy!, and not just announcing nothing works, was literally one of the items they were supposed to address. No ticket. "But I told you". 1) No, you didn't, you're an absolute liar claiming that (and I used those words because in this case it was true), 2) It doesn't matter, you're supposed to file a ticket, that's literally the policy, always has been, and now confirmed and written as determined by the IT audit.

    So now that we're into meeting-hijacking, not even fulfilling a single bullet-point, senior staff yelling at me in meetings, etc. it's now time.

    "If this is how it is, then I'm done. This is my resignation". The envelope was already in my pocket, dated that day.

    "You can't.". Oh yes I can.

    "You have to work out your notice period". No, I don't. Because I just came from HR. And they have determined that - with all the holiday you never let me take, but which I was explicitly allowed to "rollover" several times because I was never allowed to take it... it's actually MORE than my notice period. I can walk today, and you have to pay me for the entire two month's notice period, plus extra!, and I don't ever have to come back. (The holiday was all accumulated and agreed with the previous bursar, who had always been lovely about it, and MADE me roll it over even if I knowingly hadn't used it, but when he left they stopped letting me take it!)

    Bye!

    They hated it. But the consequences were even funnier.

    1) I did literally just walk and not come back.

    2) They got a guy who worked at a BMX track (his only job!) to take over the IT.

    3) Within three months, they'd had to spend three times the annual IT budget just on putting things to a place where he could understand them (i.e. no in-house email, migration to managed servers, support contracts for CCTV, access control, etc. etc.). I had warned them, as had the audit, that they needed a skilled person to take it over.

    4) The head was reported to the Department for Education for financial mismanagement, and the governors too for knowingly misrepresenting pupil numbers in order to spend the above money.

    5) The assistant bursar (a lovely woman) was sacked - for not keeping child protection records. Which was not in her remit, that she'd warned them about in writing repeatedly, and which nobody ever did anything about. She later sued for unfair dismissal, was later cleared of all such responsibility, and became a bursar at another school herself! They'd sacked the real HR person and several replacements in previous years and nobody had ever picked up the child protection checks, so they were just trying to dump it on her.

    6) The head was banned from teaching or running a school ever again.

    7) The governors were all forcibly replaced immediately.

    8) EVERY SINGLE MEMBER OF STAFF was replaced within a year.

    9) I got a phone call before I'd even got home, from my bursar friend, with a job offer at another school. I worked there for nearly 10 years afterwards. (My girlfriend at the time was absolutely fretting over "What I would do" etc. as I was telling her why I was home early. How would I get another job? What about my references? What if we couldn't pay bills? Etc.etc. The phone rang, it was my bursar, I had a better-paying job at a bigger school by the afternoon).

    Sorry, but if you're going to take advantage of people, please make sure you're in a position to do so.

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      I regret ....

      .... I only have one 'up' to give!

      1. Ordinary Donkey

        Re: I regret ....

        I gave him mine for you.

    2. Bluecube

      Now that’s a story and a half. We all know stupid is out there and face it every day but ye gods, some folk are just STUPID.

      1. 0laf Silver badge
        Headmaster

        If you want IT stories of stupid decisions, entitled people and mismanagement schools are the place to fish for them.

        I have done the OPs job but without the big dramas. I still have many stories about petty teaching staff etc. i.e. being yelled at in front of a class of kids for a printer not working only to demonstrate it was out of paper.

        If you can handle IT in a school you'll spend a few years underpaid and unappreciated but you'll develop a lovely thick hide and everything after will look easy.

        1. usbac Silver badge

          "If you want IT stories of stupid decisions, entitled people and mismanagement schools are the place to fish for them."

          There, I fixed it for you!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          never worked in a school myself but I have hired several people who have and they all say the same!

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "some folk are just STUPID."

        They might start out a bit stupid but given a long enough run they get very good at it.

    3. adam 40 Silver badge

      EVERYONE - CLICK ON "Expand Comment"!

      Best On Call story for some time.

    4. Red Sceptic

      A great read - your bursar sounds like a top geezer!

    5. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Well written wall of text. I actually read it all!

    6. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      You are Simon and I claim my £5

  20. MarthaFarqhar

    If you've screwed up, the help you get is directly proportional to how well you've dealt with people who can drag you out of that hole.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      If you've screwed up, the help you get is directly proportional to how well you've dealt with people who can drag you out of that hole.

      With some people the help I provide is tossing in a spade.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        I prefer to toss them a sack of rocks, but a spade is thoughtful as well.

  21. TheFifth

    The company I used to work for was actually pretty good (they were the only company where I was told to go home when I was ill and not to work through it), however, when work dried up redundancies inevitably came. Being a senior member of staff I was expensive and they could simply no longer afford to pay me (even though I had taken a pay cut to help out).

    When I left, the job I was currently working on was given to me to complete as a freelancer. The client was one I had found and nurtured, so they gave the project to me as a parting gift. I was the third person into the company when I joined some 12 years earlier, so we'd been through a lot together. We parted on good terms and everyone all round felt sad about it.

    The project was only a simple ASP based online data store. I completed it quickly as I knew the client was desperate for it. I sent the code in and duly invoiced for the amount we'd agreed before I left. I received back what can only be described as a bollocking, with them claiming they 'never told me to do the job yet!'. I can only assume they couldn't afford to pay me. After a long wait, they did however pay up.

    Around six months later I received what can only be described as another bollocking because 'you haven't completed the agreed project and the client is demanding to know where it is! We were relying on you!'.

    I pointed them to the email I'd sent six months earlier. I did not hear back.

    It's a shame as it soured my memories of what had been a really good job and a (mostly) fun 12 years of my life.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Was once on the receiving end of just such a conversation where it was absolutely, 100%, totally, utterly going to end up in me being sacked.

      Why hasn't X been done, X was absolutely for you to do, it's really important that we do X, you've failed to do X, you must do X, X is part of your job, you were instructed to do X, etc. etc. etc.

      My reply, by email, was nothing more than a date, time and subject.

      Referencing an email nearly a year earlier where I'd taken to putting in writing the results of a meeting with EXACTLY the person who sent the above, against their wishes (they hated anything being formally recorded) and had clearly done it as a "Okay, so when this all goes utterly pear-shaped, please remember that you said this, and that I'm reminding you now that you said this" type of email. It was all there, in black & white (or white & black if you use night mode). Don't accuse me of not doing things that you literally stopped me doing and told me not to do.

      The temperature went from 1000C to about -273.15C so fast, you could see the contraction cracks appear in the metalwork of the building.

      My colleague wasn't aware of what was going on, because at that point I was doing it all in "private meetings" and by email, but even they asked why I had such a big smile on my face for the rest of the day.

      1. blackcat Silver badge

        A paper trail is absolutely key and always be wary of those who try and avoid it.

        1. Bebu Silver badge
          Windows

          Modus

          《A paper trail is absolutely key and always be wary of those who try and avoid it.》

          Its a pretty common modus operandi in many organisations encompassing plausible deniability, blame shifting and general arse covering.

          The number of times I have received a phone call in response to a written communication which the caller would have preferred the contents of the conversation not to have been recorded. ;)

          The very effective vaccination for this affliction is to promptly and invariably send a precis or minuted summary of the conversation to the caller by organisational email.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Modus

            The very effective vaccination for this affliction is to promptly and invariably send a precis or minuted summary of the conversation to the caller by organisational email.

            With a Bcc: to your private email address.

  22. ShortLegs

    Many many years ago. Worked for an outsourcer

    The client had been given a custom support soluttion (one SD - "T", one account manager, and agreed to a deputy SDM on each site. On the technical side, remote 1st line helpdesl, on site 2line support, and a centralised network/server team. I owned the IT, T owned Service Delivery). This was the customers preferred structure, lean and agile. It served us well as we doubled the account value within a year, taking on more and more IT services

    Long story short is our boss had a heart attack, and the company replaced him with the 'standard' service management template: 5 managers, including David, a "technical director'. Although I owned IT, I was still just a "manager", or glorified techie team leader. Long story short, I quit as I had effectively been dismissed.

    Now we, with our peers in the clients network team, upgraded from a flat Token Ring environment to a routed IP environment with switch 100mb ethernet on sites. Cutover was scheduled for the last weekend in Oct. That Friday, I was asked if I could assist over the weekend and be available Mon and Tuesday by "I", my client-side peer, and "G" one of my guys who was managing the work. I agree a daily rate with "I" and stress to G he needs to run this past David, who agreed. I duly attend

    Thursday I get a phone call from him asking why I am not in work. and what is this invoice for £6000? When I remind David I quit, he replies "i never processed your resignation, you are still an employee". nope, I start a new role next Monday. I also have a mountain of O/T that needs paying, and almost a full years worth of hols owed. Now I had also handed over a lot of documentation to David with my resignation letter. Turns out he hadn't "nor processed it" - he had deleted it.

    A month later I am still getting calls from him, demanding I turn up to work, I provide information I no longer have, etc. Eventaully, two months later, chasing up unpaid OT and hol pay (and I am still being paid by the company!) I end up on a call with a very senior manager. I ask if the issue is malice or incompence? He asks whom the manager was, and when I reply "David C" replies "The later. CBU [client] had him removed from the account".

    My invoice was paid. My OT was paid. My pay-in-lieu was paid. And i kept the two months pay I received after I left. They did invite me back to join Professional Services... yep-no.

    This was 1998. I wont name the companies as whilst the outsourcer has gone, the client still exists. One of the best clients I have ever worked with.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      When I retired from a big multinational, the halfwits in HR bodged up the offboarding. Not only did I keep access to the corporate network for several months, but was still being paid. Sadly I had to hand back the pay (the Theft Act is very clear) but it was quite a chuckle.

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      When I retired, got my final check, looked at it, thought it might be a little "light". Recalculated what I thought I should be getting for unused vacation time, and, yep, it was off...by a lot. In my state, vacation time is considered part of your salary, and, by law, must be paid out in your final check.

      So I waited a pay period to see if it came as a separate check, but, no, it did not. So, I wrote a polite note to HR, asking that they help me to understand how they calculated my payment for unused vaca, and included a screenshot I had taken before I left, of my balance. I got a very rapid reply, and the missing amount in my bank account the next week.

      Never ascribe to malice...(and in this case, I'm fairly sure it was either incompetence or bad software)...Trust but verify.

  23. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

    Whats that with Taylor Swift

    What is that weird hype about Taylor and SWIFT? Oh well, politicians and banksters, hyper hyper!

  24. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Pint

    It is a tough decision...

    I got the call after the RIF, from the already over-worked fellow who inherited all my responsibilities. Needed a password or something like that. While he was a former co-worker, he was not a former friend, and was just as much a victim of this situation as I was. I gave him the password.

    Unfortunately my friend had untreated hypertension and the stress caused a catastrophic blow-out shortly thereafter. He was in his early 30's, RIP, and here is a beer in token of remembrance.

    While Justice is not vindictive, it is exacting. The company and their ignorant management was gone less than a year later. I like to think my friend took that password and other critical information with him, and that contributed to their downfall.

  25. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Devil

    There is an

    old klingon proverb

    "Revenge is a dish best served cold"

    And some of the above stories have proved that

    By the way, Did tell you about the day I quit one place, for months every request for more pay went unheeded with the famous phrase "We can get anyone in to replace you for less than we pay you already"

    Ok........ found a better gig, and quit

    Day after my quit letter landed on his desk, boss grabs one of the co-workers "We need to replace Boris" he says

    "Good luck with that" comes the reply "You'll never get anyone in to cover his work at that rate of pay"

    Panic then followed....

    1. DropBear

      Re: There is an

      Have you ever actually tried that...? There's no satisfaction in it whatsoever. It's a hollow victory. It's no fun unless you get to nuke that bridge from orbit, mad grin included, with maximum prejudice. Oh, and you can promise me the full worth of Elon for a single day of work and I'll STILL laugh in your face and say "no" if you pissed me off properly.

  26. tommy_qwerty

    Missed opportunity

    This is when you tell them you are willing to help them on a consultancy basis for > $100 an hour

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Missed opportunity

      My bro did summat like that. He quit, thinking early retirement, and was asked to come back "for a bit" "even as a contractor". He wasn't really interested so named a figure he thought they'd go a funny colour over. Much surprise when they went "mmmm - OK". He lasted several years of "for a bit" until he was told "we never employ contractors" and let go. He's had several requests to help out with info on odd projects since. It depends on from whom the request comes how helpful he is.

  27. DS999 Silver badge

    There is no greater satisfaction

    Than telling a bad boss to F off.

    In my first real job out of college I had a bad boss, and a worse boss' boss. I honestly think the latter was who the pointy haired boss in Dilbert was based on. Fortunately most of work involved the engineering division, which mostly kept my boss and his boss out of my hair - so long as they received no complaints they mostly left me alone other than stupid stuff like calling me out when I showed up late or left a few minutes before 5.

    Near the end of my employment there I did something that saved the company at least a million dollars, probably more. I know I've posted about it here at least once, so I'll cut to the important part where I was accused by my boss and boss' boss of taking company property - I'd been observed loading three workstations in my car (parked with flashers on in the loading zone in front of the main entrance to the building at quitting time) I had the prior knowledge and approval of the engineering VP, but hadn't informed my boss. I probably should have, but the engineering VP was a lot easier to work with and this was engineering property not MIS property anyway.

    I think the main reason my boss' boss was unhappy was because when I told him about the plan is he wanted to be able to take credit for it. But since I worked with the engineering VP he would get the "credit" (which I doubt he cared about too much he was set to retire in about a year) I had already been interviewing for another job so I was totally unconcerned about the whole thing, which I think bothered them more - they probably expected me to shrink in fear when accused of theft and I dared to laugh when they brought it up.

    When I gave my notice not long after my boss made the token effort to see what they could do to keep me, but I think he was probably excited about the prospect of replacing me with someone more compliant. I didn't actually tell him to "F off" in so many words, but I told him I wouldn't stay if they doubled my salary lol

  28. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    Greatest hits

    Did Travis write a song about the breakup? It's what his girlfriend would have done.

  29. b1k3rdude

    The Landan response: f**k off and do one mate.

    Ive been in that situation a few times, and recently one of said agencies got back in contact, but as a result of the way I was abused by said agency I had blacklisted them and for good reason. This was my reply to the agent -

    "

    Dear <agency rep>

    Below is a summary of what occured in <regimized> -

    - <your agency> failed to setup my contract of employment correctly or on-time at the start of the contract, for the first week, I was onsite with no contract in-place.

    - I informed <your agency> at the start of the contract that I was receiving verbal abuse from one of the permanent employees, <your agency> were fully aware of this because their previous contractor had the same issue with the same employee. But they did f**k all about it.

    - <your agency> failed to pay me on time or correctly on several occasions, which was a serious breach of my contract. They dismissed this out of hand (<your agency> tried blaming the end client)

    - <your agency> changed my rate without consulting me or giving me notice - forcing me to accept unreasonable changes to my conditions of employment without an agreement which was illeagal.

    - In the end the contract was cancelled with no notice, and no explanation.

    - The final nail in the coffin was <your agency> "tried" to get away without paying me my notice period.

    So please remove all my contact details from your systems and can you put a note on there that I NEVER want to hear from your company again please.

    kind regards

    "

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The Landan response: f**k off and do one mate.

      "unreasonable changes to my conditions of employment"

      Big IR35 fail there.

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: The Landan response: f**k off and do one mate.

        “Big IR35 fail” - wouldn’t that affect both the company and the contractor? In one case the client pays salary minus taxes minus ni to the contractors company, and tax plus twice the ni to the inland revenue. So whatever the contractor would have received is income minus tax minus ni, so the real salary was much higher and the company needs to pay it?

  30. ecofeco Silver badge
    Flame

    Oh yes

    Several times.

    I said no each time no matter how badly I needed the money.

    Some bridges SHOULD be burned.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Oh yes

      Some bridges SHOULD be STAY burned.

      FTFY

  31. Giles C Silver badge

    Slightly different

    I was called by one of the maintenance engineers after leaving a company (I don’t do electrics as I am a networking person). The conversation went something like this.

    Do you remember where the cabling runs for a gps antenna in building X.

    Me: er why do you need to know

    Someone has been in and cut the unused cables as they didn’t think it was needed.

    Me: after laughing for a few minutes, well I think it went under the floor out of the window on the car park side but I have no idea which window it was - I did leave 3 years ago…..

    I don.t know if they found it or not….

  32. Boring Bob

    The best lesson.

    The best lesson here is, live in France and join a union.

  33. I am the liquor

    Firing people on Monday?

    We find it's always better to fire people on a Friday. Studies have statistically shown that there's less chance of an incident if you do it at the end of the week.

    1. My-Handle

      Re: Firing people on Monday?

      One employer I once worked for fired an entire team of temp (read - "been there for 3 years") staff on a Thursday. The only obvious reason was that, being temps, they only had a week of notice and the company didn't want to pay for them to attend the Christmas do in 8 days time. Meanwhile, temps who had been brought on 3 weeks ago were allowed to attend.

      It showed the rest of us exactly how loyal this company was to it's staff.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the great land of Oz...

    In the great land of Oz, "redundancy" has a lot of meaning and legalities associated with it.

    So if the recipient of a redundancy package wants to play hard hall, they can.

    My second redundancy was messy, acrimonious and despite my best intentions very painful. I was glad to leave as the environment had become very abusive and the organisation was perceived as being hostile to all in the industry.

    I was contacted done three months after I left and asked about accessing some old email messages that were archived years earlier by myself during an email migration. Seems like no one knew how to reinstall the old system or access the archive files (cc:mail, anyone?)

    I politely declined to help, mentioning that to do so may jeopardise my redundancy payout's concessional tax status.

    When I suggested that they contacted my colleague who had also been laid off at the time, I was told he had said the same thing, along with "ask the other guy, but I know what he will say".

    He was correct.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In the great land of Oz...

      I remember cc:Mail!

      Not enough to fly to Oz and sort it out though!

  35. zawarski

    With friends like these..

    Why does anyone in this day and age think they owe *anything* to a company? You want a friend? Get a dog.

    1. My-Handle

      Re: With friends like these..

      I would say, treat a company like you'd treat anyone else. Don't trust them until they earn it. I've worked for a range of companies - some good, some bad, and one pretty bipolar one. Generally, I've found it doesn't take a company too long to show it's true colours.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: With friends like these..

        I don't trust companies at all.

        I *may* trust certain specific individuals within the company if they have a proven track record of actually doing right by me.

        But even they can't guarantee that they'll be around next week, or that the company will do what they should.

        I trust certain people, only. Those people - by and large - don't let me down, and they're the ones whose promises I believe, not the companies (and often those promise are at extreme odds with each other).

        When a person I trust tells me that they'll get me that raise... I will tend to believe them, and it will tend to happen. Even if the company doesn't want it to.

        When a company tells me they'll get me that raise... I have zero interest until it's written down and even then it's not a sure thing.

        Trusting a company is like trusting a concept, or a thought, or a idealism. No. But when Fred (who I've known, worked for and trusted for years and doesn't ever let me down if it's at all in their power) says it, then I will listen. And even if Fred then does let me down, it's going to be because the company got involved and/or broke their promises to him. That's not Fred's fault. And Fred, almost always, will then apologise enormously, plus never pass on a promise he can't personally deliver ever again.

        You're dumb to trust an imaginary entity, controlled by basically random people outside your control, to do anything. You're dumb to trust most people too. But the ones you can trust pretty much won't let you down.

        And that applies to all industries and workplaces. The people I trusted, I'm still in touch with years later and still trust them because of their track record with myself alone. The companies I've worked for? Eventually almost every one of them failed me because the PEOPLE changed.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I departed a major UK based global bank largely because I had an a-hole know-nothing boss. I'd been instructed to document my knowledge, my industry contacts, any caches of useful documentation, hardware and "Spanish practices". Clearly they thought I could be replaced by by a filing cabinet. In order for me to to be able to leave on advantageous terms I needed to appear to comply. I realised that they had no way to check the completeness of my "brain dump" so why not let them pay me for a few months producing it, or rather something that would appear to be what they wanted, while I planned a successful escape. I very much doubt that any of the contents were any use to them but I hope they spent many happy hours trying to get to grips with it. I made it pretty clear that I was happy to be moving on to a different future and wouldn't be back. Over my years there the £millions I saved the company were based on my innovative problem solving skills, there was no way to document or replicate those. They got some of my mental store of data but how would it even be possible to document how my brain functions, the mental algorithms?

  37. Luiz Abdala
    Devil

    Disney "Treasured Guest".

    Learn from the Professionals.

    Those rude parents with snotty little kids that kicked Mickey Mouse in the shins and spilled ice cream on Minnie's Dress are named "Most Treasured Guests".

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was fired because the product manager did not like me. After I left, the company realized that I was the only person that could do the certification of the product I worked for, so I finished that on a sound hourly rate dureing the long train commutes to my new employer.

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