Thursday, January 15, 2009

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

My main client is the U.S. Federal Government. It's been a great gig, which has provided me with loads of great experience and opportunities. You may not know this, but many of the people who do the work of the Government are actually contractors like me. In some ways this is good, but it also creates some strange situations. Federal managers supervise staff who are not their employees, and their actual employers are usually off-site. When there are performance management issues a complex ballet ensues. I got to see one of those today in all its glory.

An employee of a contractor who was in her probationary period wasn't working out as hoped. The Federal manager responsible for her work, who happens to also be my client, let us know this since I and my team are partially responsible for computer network management and security. Today was supposed to be her last day, though she didn't know it yet.


The Federal manager (I'll call him Teddy Bear) tells the young woman (Crazy Eyes) that she must attend her company's staff meeting off-site. She argues with him, but eventually agrees to go. Her employer was supposed to meet with her afterward and tell her that she was fired.


Teddy Bear walks into my team's work area and asks us if we've seen Crazy Eyes. We haven't. Apparently she never showed up to the staff meeting at her employer's office. We are informed that her network login has been disabled, as well as her government e-mail account.


Teddy Bear pokes his head out of the door to our area and sees Crazy Eyes headed down the hall. He leaves.


Crazy Eyes comes into our work area and tells us that she can't log in to her computer. We tell her "Go talk to Teddy Bear." She leaves.


Teddy Bear comes back into our office and we ask him if he has talked to Crazy Eyes. He hasn't. He tells us that he has phoned her employer, who is on his way into our offices to inform her that she isn't employed there anymore. In the mean time, Teddy Bear tells us to re-enable her network login.


I and two of my team mates step outside for a refreshing cigarette. As we are finishing, who comes barreling out of the building but Crazy Eyes. She doesn't say anything, but give us a head-held-high-crazy-eye grin as she walks by.


We send a representative to give the news to Teddy Bear that Elvis has Left the Building, but he's not in his office. On his chair, however, is a key with post-it note attached "office key - email to explain - Crazy Eyes."

Someday we're going to write a situation comedy called "Dot Gov." This is going to be in the pilot.


michael sean morris said...

One of my favourite books growing up was 'Teddy Bear and Crazy Eyes'; I'm so thrilled to read this modern re-telling. Very Dilbert-esque!

Chas Talbot said...

Ultimately, all problems in organizations (of whatever size or character) are personnel problems. So I've read.

This story supports that observation.