It’s been a pretty big week for me and I have lots I want to talk about but have decided to make this post strictly about the new job. Not wanting to gloss over any facts or nuances about anything that has transpired over the past 10 + days so the next post will talk about the other two huge happenings. For now, stick with me while I tell you guys about my first full two weeks as a solo junior IT tech.
First, I want to say I am incredibly grateful and happy to have gotten this assignment. I needed this job on too many levels to count and the hours are better than I thought: 8:30-5:30! That extra half hour makes a difference in the morning (haven’t been late yet) and now that the warmer weather and longer days are here, it doesn’t make a difference in the evenings. Yet, the assignment seems to be a walking contradiction. Let me further explain.
It’s a real job so I am glad of that….remember that 5 hour assignment when I first left the Team where no one knew who I was or what I was doing there? I was tossed into a cubicle and given papers to shuffle until they finally gave up the farce and sent me home. THIS assignment, there is work…real work and lots of it. They knew who I was and they were expecting me. But no one knows how long the contract will last. When approached about the job, I was told 6-8 weeks by the recruiter; I was told 3+ months by the onsite supervisor and now that I am there, I am told the deployment has a hard deadline of June 12th. Also, I am a subcontractor….so I am contracted by the contractor who was retained by the Client and the Client is moving to a new location on June 30th. Am I going with them? No idea but to be on the safe side, I have updated my resume and put it back up on the job boards.
One clue that this assignment is not going to last long is the fact that I am in a windowless room with 6 other contractors and a manager…it is an abandoned conference room that is pretty much an afterthought. Equipment is piled haphazard and new computers are everywhere in various states and stages of deployment. We do not have laptops or phones…we share two loaner computers and have to use our own cell phones…there is no Wi-Fi (well, there is but no one has the password) and reception is non-existent at worst and shitty at best. For 8 people, there are 6 chairs. The room never gets cleaned as it stays locked when we are not in there. It’s weird. Yet, the word is the contractor (MY client) is in desperate need of a deployment team and we will be there for long term. Who knows? Believe me, totally open to and actively seeking interviews for long term/permanent.
I am learning a lot but not due to the folks I work with. I have never worked with a group of all contractors before and thinking being a subcontractor makes it even a bit more…cutthroat, for lack of a better word. There were instruction packets but I prefer to see what folks are doing and make my own notes. No one wants to show you shit here….you read the packet. It’s like they think if they share any knowledge with you, they somehow get dumber or are giving you more of an edge. So I read the packet, do the steps and then make my own notes. Management is not that great….they are friendly enough but this is definitely a by-the-seat-of-your-pants operation; assignments change every day and the backup/restore that runs every night always a disaster. Every morning there is a new fire to be put out. I am definitely not the only one who doesn’t know what she’s doing as the complaint calls are pouring in; and the Head Honcho actually asked us how long it takes to switch out equipment….a customer called with that question and he had no idea how to answer it. Even I know how to answer that question.
The managers are Keystone Cops with no communication. The Head Honcho is really the only one who never has any directions or instructions for us. We see him at the beginning of the day where he says hello and at the end of the day where he says goodnight. There is the Shotcaller who insists that we follow the instruction packets to the letter and that SHE is the one we are to listen to, except she is all about staging and moving laptops around. It’s all about presentation with this chick. She gives verbal ass whippings and sends us to the Cage as punishment…already I have been to the Cage. Not fun, but it was educational. On the other hand, Duckface is all about results and getting stuff out, so she comes in and has us move the JUST MOVED laptops into different positions and places (one side of the room is wireless, the other side is hard wired) so we can actually get machines backed up, profiles loaded and deployed. She never smiles, just instructs. And she makes notes all.the.time. I just try to be very quiet and very still when Duckface is around…I have a very healthy fear of the woman. And then we have Buddha who is supposed to be the in-room supervisor. He is pretty laid back and doesn’t mind teaching us stuff but when the power struggle between Shotcaller and Duckface gets too heated, he bails and we don’t see him for the rest of the day. I think he has spent a total of 3 days in the office the entire day since I started.
There are no work spouses, work boyfriends/girlfriends here….in fact, there is no flirting period. I may as well quit now. They expect me to be professional and friendly yet distant. I think healthy people call that having boundaries…I am too social for that and I cannot be social with anyone on this assignment except Security. And now that I have gotten my badge I don’t have that. They want us to dress professionally and nicely yet on my second day I was on my hands and knees in my super cute, really nice and kinda short dress trying to switch out equipment. I have been in the “office” ever since doing imaging, loading profiles and asset management. Lunch is an hour and everyone must be back by 1:30, yet they have a 1pm meeting every day. Guess who has lunch from 12:30-1:30? I have a .gov email address but with no Wi-Fi and limited (extremely limited…remember there are 7 of us on 2 loaner laptops) access to a computer, I can’t read any of the messages that are sent to me.
I will no longer have a team on any future assignments….the AFS Team has spoiled me for anyone else and trust me when I tell you this: they are still my team and will always be my team. This assignment is comprised of a group of maybe 20 folks but we are broken down into smaller circles I call “clubs”. I started calling us The Breakfast Club although we are not that cool. It is like we are in detention as in whether we like each other or not, we are stuck together in a room (with no windows) for almost 8 hours a day. We are all still strangers to each other and no one seems to want to change that. Allow me to introduce you to the folks I now spend my days with:
Nicki Minaj: I call her the Pride of PG County and I swear this chick drinks DC tap water and possibly ate lead paint as a child. She is paranoid, has ADHD, wears funky (colorful, not stinky) socks, bright pink lipstick and wedged gold tennis shoes. She is also 21 and the Team Lead. I have no problems with her being team lead…what I have issue with is the fact she does everything in like 10 minutes flat and talks so fast, I have no idea what she is saying or doing. As a result, I feel dumb around her. I cut her slack though because she is being texted every two minutes by Duckface and Shotcaller and has no idea what she or the rest of us are supposed to be doing.
Questlove and Maverick: You HAVE to put these two together because they are joined at the hip and honestly, they are the perfect pair. Maverick does not talk. At all. He smiles, nods or shakes his head in acknowledgement to direct questions but his lips do not part to say one word. Ever. Questlove, you can’t get him to shut up. My problem with Questlove is that he is the class clown but he gets his laughs by putting others down. What he says may be true and may be funny but I don’t think it’s right. Thank goodness he is not in the room with me all day. But, I have to say these two are the most competent techs on the team and there are never complaints coming in about them.
Dirty South: The man comes from a podunk town in South Georgia and while he is not the color of Georgia mud, he talks as if he has a mouthful of it. And he stutters. He thinks he is a know-it-all but not going to hold it against him as he is the only one who is willing to show and teach. He gets it…the more others know, the less work he has to do. He also has a pretty good read on folks and for that reason, he is a loner. He doesn’t go to lunch with folks and he doesn’t make small talk… his answers to most direct questions consist of one word: Fine. Although when it was just us in the room one time, he did tell me some stuff about him that I really shouldn’t know. The funniest thing this week: Dirty South comes in, puts his black combat booted foot on the table and Questlove called him Captain Morgan.
Fat Boy: 20 years old, 6’2” and at least 400 pounds…that is the only name that fits! He follows me around the room constantly and the scene in The Breakfast Club where Emilio Estevez (Andrew, The Jock) is unpacking his lunch bag is this guy all day, every day. He brought in a bag that loaves of bread come in and I swear he took the entire loaf and made sandwiches out of it. He ate every.one. of those sandwiches. And drinks 3 gallons of water (he brings them in) during our detention time. He dresses sloppily (stained, torn tee shirts and saggy jeans) and wants to go around the end users with food and headphones. The boy went to install new equipment with a seafood salad sandwich hanging from his mouth last week. Did I mention he sweats walking from the elevator to the room (20 feet) and has a superior attitude? Oh, and in case you need it, he does resumes for $20.
Richard Pryor: I can think of no other name for our newest addition because he calls everyone (and I mean everyone) nigger or motherfucker. To their face. Yet, two days in he is lunching with the head of IT Infrastructure and leaving an hour early. While I am not going to be hanging with this guy, I need to know who he knows. My initial impression is he knows his stuff but he is trying too hard and not in the right ways…this is a professional assignment, not a family cookout.
Me: And then there is me…the chick who is flirting in corners and after a coughing fit following sampling a piece of watermelon says things like: that fruit triggered a reaction in my throat. I am the oldest member of the club, yet I feel as if I am the dumbest. I know I’m not but it is hard to find your rhythm when no one knows what they are doing. As Dirty South put it, it is a matter of memorizing the steps but when assignments change every 15 minutes, you tend to forget the order of the steps. While I think I am more of an admin person and definitely need a traditional office setting, I am not quitting or giving up unless something better comes along. I think the assignment and I both need to give each other a chance or two. I am willing if they are.
And there you have it…this is my new job and my new coworkers. Not what I really wanted, definitely not what I was expecting but just maybe, it is what I need right now. Going to wrap this post up now and I will be back with new posts sooner versus later where I can tell you all about the cutest.nephew.ever, my latest falling out with Reliable One/Safety Net and what I would tell my younger self.
As always, thanks for stopping past and reading and as usual…enjoy your day!