All the places that I’ve been

There’s a thread going on at Polt’s Palace and now Sticky Crows so it’s probably time for me to do the same.

It’s all about careers. Mine has meandered at the beginning. I started out at age 15 working for a hardware store called NHD. Spent five years ended up managing a store or two and finally had enough. I have this innate ability to read the writing on the wall and I knew NHD wasn’t long for the world. They folded a couple years later. I did manage to learn a lot though, probably why I can easily do my own electrical and plumbing.

From there I moved on to CVS, as an assistant manager. In essence, a manager except with half the pay. Stood there for a few years until I got one manager who was for lack of a better word, a cunt. Again, I’d been there for about four years and she had me fired. Oh well… no big thing. They bounced me from stores in Providence, North Providence, and Bristol, RI and Bellingham, MA. So that was one part I hated, the other was the ungodly store delivery hours, 3:30AM to 4:30AM. That and having a work schedule that included night shifts, etc. It was kind of a relief to be fired from there.

My next job was at Brown University in their Alumni and Development Information Resources (ADIR) unit. Spent a couple years there managing an ancient Data General MV9600 microcomputer and about 100 Macintosh LC desktops. Did a major document conversion project in house that saved them about $70K too.

From there I moved to Ernst & Young, LLP as a member of their Technology Support Services (TSS) group. Kind of a boring job, and when a new area director came on board and started micro-managing I just said enough and quit that job.

The next part gets interesting. From Ernst & Young I jumped to a local awards manufacturer called Emblem & Badge. Spent almost five years at that job and overall I enjoyed it except for the idiocy of the company president. I could tell he was driving the company into the ground while not paying his employees very well so I started job hunting.

Now here’s the thing. We had been running a a Novell 3.20 server and it worked well for us and I knew how to manage it. It was getting old so we bought a new server and myself, the company controller and the president had numerous arguments about this.

The company president was a Novell head. Meanwhile I had been out in the field installing POS systems that included tons of Windows NT4 servers. The president wanted Novell 4. I told him and the company controller told him it would be a several month learning curve, that we’d be better served because the POS vendor was moving towards support of Windows servers only to no avail. We had heated arguments over this over a period of months.

That is when I decided to move on. I saw an ad for an I.T. Director position at the RI Department of Attorney General and sent my resume along. Imagine my surprise when I got the call. Went through three interviews for that job, one with the Administration and HR director, one with the IT staff at Dept. of Transportation, and then the final one with the AG himself and his division directors.

When I took the job I warned the HR Director that my former employer might try something. Sure enough, two months after I’m there I get a call from the chief of the Bureau of Criminal Identification/Investigation, and he asks me to come up to his office.

He asked me how the hell I spent nearly five years in a place with such negativity. I told him I thrived on confrontation. That made him chuckle. He told me there was no basis for the complaint and that it was a sealed matter.

However a couple years later it was time for an election and I had to interview with the transition team for the incoming AG. The interview was strange but I found out in a couple of weeks that I was being let go as of January 3rd that year.

Here’s how it goes. The former boss who complained, well his next door neighbor was the Speaker of the House at the time. So you can pretty much figure out how that went down.

My next stint was almost four years at the RI Secretary of State’s Office. Managed Windows and Linux servers, desktops, phones, printers, you name it. It was an enjoyable enough job and I even got a project management scheme pushed into the unit because we were getting hammered with requests and no way to prioritize.

I also figured out a vexing phone issue that both the State Telecom and Avaya couldn’t figure out. We had two phone systems, and on transition we had to move a bunch of people around. One curious problem popped up, the message waiting lights stopped working once you moved to the other location. Turns out the phone system itself doesn’t turn light on, or not how you’d think. It was the Audix voicemail system that set the light. And if it had the wrong system ID in the 3rd page of a mailbox setup, it’d never set the light on or off. So if you moved them you’d have to change them (The system ID’s were 221 and 222)

I made it nine months into the new administration. But again, I ran another woman with whom I didn’t get along. It think what really sealed it is that when we’d moved our offices I did all the due diligence to insure the move went smoothly from an IT perspective. Part of that process was getting references from other state agencies and one story came back about a rack full of servers that was dropped off the truck. Total data loss.

And who managed that project? The above mentioned woman. I probably undid myself but she was a clueless horse trade aka political favor from the outgoing Treasurer. I’ve come to the conclusion, the only way to survive in state government is to act dumb or be dumb. People with a brain either move on or piss someone off. I fall into the later category.

I recall one particularly galling incident. I was in the Corporations division fixing a printer and the Director of Admin comes out and starts yelling at me. Here’s the thing, when people yell at me I can turn on the cool as a cucumber act. I looked at her and told her that we’d shown her numerous times how to use the eTimeSheet application, and that what she wanted it to do was not what it was designed to do.

Little did she know that the application developer had written the changes but because she was such a nasty cur he just left it on the server and never told her that it was ready to roll. That woman pissed off literally every director level position and quite a few people in between.

It was so bad that one day I’m in the Chief of Staff’s office and he apologized to me for her behavior.

When she canned me she mentioned that I didn’t fit the structure. I told her that was interesting as the word structure implies direction which was sorely lacking under her leadership. It felt so good to say that.

She also said I’d be better off in the corporate world. Indeed, for four months I did a contract job that netted me more than I’d made in almost two years at the SoS. Every day on that train to Boston, as we’d pass the facility I worked in for the SoS I’d throw the finger and mouth “Fuck you Catherine!”

BTW, when I got canned I made a prediction. I told the Archives Director that within two months they’d suffer a major web crash. Sure enough, it happened. They claimed a virus but I know better. You see, the web server had a database replica that had some bad SQL (Standard Query Language). Some badly formed SQL over time will corrupt database indexes. The fix was that when it happened, you just stopped the database engine, did a table repair, restart the database and all was good again for a couple of months.

Even went so far as to document this process and email it to the relevant people. But it fell on deaf ears. Ok, I did my part. That’s how I know they lied through their teeth. Of course by that time they’d either canned or lost everyone who had any clue about the MySQL databases.

So that consulting gig I talked about, database development. It was supposed to be a six month contract but again I finished up kind of early and it was only four months. Not to mention there was one bitch in the process who couldn’t wrap her head around a file change so we had to cater to her the whole time.

Now I do my own thing. Much better, now if only I could get one client to pay.

So here’s the breakdown:

1) NHD
2) CVS
3) Brown University
4) Ernst & Young, LLP
5) Emblem & Badge
6) Rhode Island Department of Attorney General
7) Rhode Island Secretary of State
8) A large consulting group – that was the well paid 4 month gig.
9) On my own

2 thoughts on “All the places that I’ve been

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