Whoa! Didja get the numbers off that truck?!?

May 08, 2004 - 10:07 a.m.

Pulling the trigger

They fired a guy at work yesterday.

No, it wasn't me. But it was someone whom I had been working with for more than a year. He's a stubborn child, and I could tell he wasn't getting it. At times I felt as if he was not in the right place in his life, resisting change. I would explain concepts and processes as best I could, and trust me, I'm good. I have a long history of explaining technical concepts to non-technical people. He was supposed to be a technical guy, he was a graduate of Marquette University, isn't that supposed to be a good school? I dunno. He was supposed to be smart, and he probably is. But, some folks are only as smart as they want to be.

Real learning isn't taught in a classroom. Real learning happens when you figure a problem out on your own. The light bulb goes off, the aha! sounds in your brain, and you never forget the lesson. Or, you get your ass handed to you for doing something foolish and stupid, and the lesson is retained with a painful smack of a reminder. I've experienced both. This guy wasn't interested in that. He would do things by rote or by guess and when it didn't work he'd run to me or Frank or Stanley and let us figure it out. Meanwhile our stuff isn't being done while we figure out what he missed.

I think the kiss of death happened when he blew up a customer's prototype, not because of a failure in the design, he did something stupid. So they sent him another one and he did a different stupid thing and blew that one up too. I felt badly for him, sorta. I helped him draft his email explanation to his customer, he's not good at writing either.

My boss confided in me that he was getting canned the day before it happened. We are contemporaries in our career, having the same years of experience; my years have been collected at different places, his has been only at this place. He respects my abilities and experience and knows that I've been in similar circumstances. I was flattered by his confidence in me, but I didn't like the feeling that engendered. It's like knowing someone is going to die whilst they are unaware of it. The kid came to me with a question that afternoon. While I was explaining it to him, in my mind I was thinking about how it wouldn't matter 24 hours into the future.

In the 50 year history of this company they've only fired a handful of people. Frank and I were discussing the company in general terms that afternoon, and he loudly proclaimed to me that "you have to really do something stupid to get fired from this place." I cringed inside, the marked man was within earshot.

I got a letter from the local paper. They liked me so much this year that they're signing me up for another year of Common Sense. There are eight newcomers to the Common Sense stable of writers this year. I actually went on a date with a very beautiful woman who wanted to be on the panel last year, but she didn't make the cut. I didn't make the cut with her either, apparently. She gave me an abrupt heave-ho the morning after our night together. Despite that, I emailed an encouragement for her to re-submit for this year's call for writers. The annual dinner and orientation is scheduled for the end of this month.

the last one -*- the next one

Current Terr Alert Level
Terror Alert Level
OMG, She's agonna blow!

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