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 Post subject: Complicated
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:43 AM 
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I have to sort out some stuff. Divergent viewpoints might be helpful.

Employee X came to us a few months ago. His resume was very impressive, and my boss hired him without talking to me about it -- something he does maybe one time in three, when he's super sure. He was in competition with another applicant, a woman I was here to interview, and turned down. So it was him, or another round of interviews.

X's resume was somewhat exaggerated; he hadn't been an engineer, so much as been a program manager on an engineering team. He didn't strictly know how to do the job for which we hired him, but he was super ready to learn how. He made about 80% of what I did, and he didn't have to actually do any work because he didn't know how, so he just shadowed one of our other engineers, taking up some of his time so that he amounted to negative one-half people. His hope was that he could fake it long enough to become one of us for real. I had the same plan when I got here, and by some chance it worked for me. In later months, my boss told me that I'd been fooling myself; they hired me for potential in the first place. I never asked whether they also hired X for potential.

I was red-hot pissed about this X thing.

I talked about the issue with my boss, who agreed that the honor system had failed us. We reassigned everyone in the team so that I had a slightly narrower specialization, my counterpart had a narrower opposite spec, we hired one other guy to help my counterpart, and we relegated X to tier 1 and 2 triage support -- he took on the responsibility of formally onboarding service and change requests from partner teams, but didn't really do engineering work himself. I don't know what he thought of this change of role; we never talked about it. I was negotiating the conditions under which a guy with actual talent could replace X, so the discussion with X wasn't high on my appointment list.

I had to fly halfway across the country to rescue my soon-to-be mother-in-law from her abusive husband and his associates, and drive with her back across the midwest as escort to her old home and make sure she was established and safe there. That took several days, all told. While I was doing that, X called and asked about a work issue he didn't know how to handle. It took me 30 minutes to excise my reactive derision through oral vitriol. I just vented at the empty air about exactly how pointless you have to be to call the one guy who's out of the office for help when literally anyone on the team could have answered the question, and everyone but me was twenty feet away, and I was trying to legally prevent murder of an extremely important loved one by a psychopathic divorcee. It was an outrageous comparison of priorities; the idea that he had interrupted this for that had me seeing red all by itself. I didn't call him back.

X accidentally overdosed on an unknown substance that night. The coroner has not speculated about what, but he's ruled out suicide. I'm one of the last three people to ever hear his voice.

I have no delusions; this is not my fault. I didn't kill him, I didn't drive him to do anything stupid, and yet I feel bad because I didn't especially like him, and I based that evaluation on entirely professional grounds. I never actually looked up and saw a person, and I sure can't do it now. I'll never know his favorite color, or who his boyfriend was, or why he had so much trouble quitting smoking.

I might have changed the course if I'd called back, but at the time I was engaged in the salvation of someone I very dearly love -- if I'd been forced to choose, I'd watch X burn in slow motion to save my fiancee's mother, she's that important. Instead he went on to have too much of something and go away forever, and now I'm second-guessing.

His mother called my boss and explained the coroner's report this morning. He told me over some lethally stiff drinks this afternoon.

It's too entangled. Did I screw something up? Do I need forgiveness from someone? Who? Why?


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 Post subject: Re: Complicated
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:12 AM 
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At the risk of sounding like an ass, people die all the time. Tons of people also have tons of issues that others may never suspect. Don't let your feelings for the guy as a slacker coworker make you feel shitty now that he is dead. It happens, and while tragic, one has nothing to do with the other.


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 Post subject: Re: Complicated
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:17 AM 
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Seems like your head's a little too far up your own ass to sort anything out. While I'm sure there's some real stuff here, this reads like a third semester English major's Facebook "About Me" section. Maybe stop writing and thinking like one and everything will make more sense.

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 Post subject: Re: Complicated
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:31 PM 
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Also I get that what I said there makes me sound like a total dickhole, but changing your outlook from the dramatic to the realistic will improve literally everything.

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 Post subject: Re: Complicated
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:34 PM 
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randy wrote:
Also I get that what I said there makes me sound like a total dickhole, but changing your outlook from the dramatic to the realistic will improve literally everything.


Randy... It does sound like that, but you are like that and so is many of us here. So your comments do fit.

Tranthas, non of this is your fault and never consider it to be. You just need to talk it out and move on from it, people die everyday for whatever reason.

** Hugs **

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 Post subject: Re: Complicated
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:02 PM 
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Don't let his actions take you down.

Take some time off work (if you can). Do what you can to clear your head. If I read your statement correctly, you did raise some alarms (the guy didn't know how to do his job). You cannot control what people do, don't let their actions affect yours in a negative manner.


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 Post subject: Re: Complicated
PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:46 PM 
Trakanon is FFA!
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Thanks guys. Also thanks Randy -- I was actually about to submit this to an elementary-school writing competition, so it's a good thing you caught flaws in the writing quality before I went and embarassed myself. 8)


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 Post subject: Re: Complicated
PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:34 AM 
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No one kills them self because their coworker/supervisor doesn't call them back in a timely manner. I'm guessing that gentleman had something else not work related going on.


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 Post subject: Re: Complicated
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:33 PM 
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Quote:
While I was doing that, X called and asked about a work issue he didn't know how to handle. It took me 30 minutes to excise my reactive derision through oral vitriol. I just vented at the empty air about exactly how pointless you have to be to call the one guy who's out of the office for help when literally anyone on the team could have answered the question, and everyone but me was twenty feet away, and I was trying to legally prevent murder of an extremely important loved one by a psychopathic divorcee.


I guess my question would be, how did it get to the point where your co-worker thought it was acceptable to call you when you were out while there were people right next to him that could answer the question? I think it's important to set boundaries early, especially in the work environment.

I'm not saying you did, but I see a lot of this on a daily basis: If you're just nothing but accepting to a person to every beck and call until the tipping point, you're only bottling things up - not only for yourself, but for the other guy as well. Put it in the open, let them know if you have an issue. Don't just say "this isn't ok," be specific, be forthright. Drive it home. If it gets to the point where you're in a critical situation and you finally HAVE to let him know what the fuck is up.. then it's far, far too late.

As for the question of blame, I think you're correct in that there's no point in blaming yourself if you had no way of knowing that he was on the edge.


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