12 June, 2008

From the private archives: Why Ted E. must die

From earlier this year:

Okay. Over the last year the unit has been whittled down to four staff - three operational, one project/planning oriented. The last casual left a month ago because she got a better offer (i.e. it didn't involve working with Ted E.) and at the moment the Stress Fiend (one of the operational staff) is on leave, so it's just me and Ted. Except Ted flexed one day off last week, and called in sick yesterday. There are a lot of reasons I want to beat him about the head with a stout wooden chair at the moment (many of which can be distilled down to "Just because it's him"), but the one at the moment ... well, here's the chronology.

Last week
  • Problem Client submits an order that, for some reason, fails to trigger the automatic system that should deploy his software.
This week - Tuesday
  • Problem Client rings up to see what's happening with his order. In fact he rings up several times, and seems intent on filling up the voice mail;
  • I speak to him to clarify a couple of things. He responds by sending more email to want to know how the clarification is going. I have to leave early that day, and I'm neck-deep in other things that are a higher priority so I don't reply;
  • Ted E. can't resist sticking his nose in (multiple emails from the same problem client, no matter how small the issue, is his personal Armageddon Scenario - but only when he's confident he can make it someone else's problem or shortcoming), and a solution is arrived at. Surprisingly, he offers to put it in place;
  • Ted E. is dropping broad and unsubtle hints that he intends to call in sick on Wednesday.
  • Ted E. delivers;
  • Problem Client leaves voice mail on Ted E.'s phone. Several times;
  • I'm trying unsuccessfully to keep pace with three peoples' jobs, but have to content myself with keeping tabs on the incoming calls and monitoring the email for anything that can't wait until we actually have people here to do stuff;
  • Problem Client sends more emails.
  • Ted E. returns, unfortunately having failed to die on his day off;
  • Ted E. checks his voice mail. Ted E. calls the problem client and then spends the next several minutes telling the client "I can't understand why he [i.e. me] didn't take care of this for you. I was off sick yesterday, but he could have done it. I thought he was working on it. I don't know why he didn't do it, because I thought he would be taking care of it";
  • this is all within my hearing - he's not even subtle about trying to pass the buck. He simply doesn't give a damn about whether he pisses off his workmates;
  • then he forwards all Problem Client's voice mail - which is essentially the same message repeated over and over - to my voice mail inbox;
  • and then he asks me "How is the problem client going?" to which I reply somewhat acidly "Well you were just talking to him, so you've got a better idea than I do".
    Either it goes over his head or, more likely, fails to penetrate a skull so dense that if they could reproduce it in labs, you could encase Chernobyl in it and safely build a maternity hospital on top;
  • naturally he also lives in a state of happy oblivion about ever having offered to contribute to solving Problem Client's problem, and is happy to use yesterday's absence as an excuse to pass everything along to me. Because, presumably, I was meant to have taken care not only of all incoming work, but clear the backlog of outstanding tasks, too.
I'm not really given to hating people much, but if I was a casual hater Ted E. would be a Top 5 contender every time.

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