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New comics every Tuesday & Thursday

Tales from the Trenches

Serendipity for me, Sorry for you

I accepted a job that was supposed to be 40% customer service (because “everyone starts there” and “it gets you familiar with how our product works”) and 60% development work.  I was supposed to move up to full-time in the development team within a year (“or two, tops”). It was in the middle of the depression and jobs were scarce, so I took it. One nice thing, this job DID pay well.

Needless to say, the development side of things quickly disappeared, and I was working 100% customer service, with all the idiotic phone calls that entails. Still, the pay was good.

We’d been extremely shorthanded, but our company added an auxiliary location in a different US city so that if our phone system went down, we’d still have support up. The people they added doubled the size of our department, so we were starting to feel pretty good.

In early November, I flew out to spend time with my boyfriend, and came back super-excited because we got engaged that weekend. I planned to quit my job before too long and move out to join him after the wedding.

Two days later, each of the members in our local department got called in for meetings. Turns out, the auxiliary department wasn’t so auxiliary… they were going to take over our jobs, and our entire department was laid off, effective the end of the year.

I’m pretty sure the HR person who was trying to “break the news gently,” was a bit confused by my reaction, as I was actually ecstatic about being let go. Between the severance pay, my savings, and the unemployment compensation, I had enough funds to last until my wedding. (The other members of my team were not so lucky, but our boss let them take time off to make it to interviews for other jobs, some were hired before the end of the year.)

But since the layoff didn’t take effect for another 6 weeks, that also meant that we had to spend the next month and a half still working with (and training) our direct replacements. Who, by the way, had only worked for a couple of months and were scared stiff of taking over the entire department.

Did I mention we had ZERO documentation? Almost every issue was dealt with by personal familiarity with the quirks of the system, or by asking one of the senior members of the team how to handle it. And my team had all of that undocumented knowledge in their heads when they left the company. We did our best to help out the new guys, as it wasn’t their fault. But there is only so much you can do in that little time…

The last week, we let them handle everything on their own, to simulate what would happen when we left.

Poor, poor replacements….