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Thread: How not to keep a job

  1. #1
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    How not to keep a job

    This happened years ago and I really didn’t share it much but my son in law thought it was funny.

    I was employed as a programmer for a small company. In a way, I was a department of one which is a very dangerous thing for any company especially since I was remote.. But they had given me a programmer to train. As that progressed, there was a bit of turmoil about profits and I was afraid they might lay off the apprentice. So I had a chance to chat with the President and I said this:

    ”No matter how much this company needs me, I need this company less.”

    That had the virtue of being true. I worked because it was a great bunch of people and the work was my idea of fun. But I didn’t need the money.

    My statement had the desired effect. Not too long after that, they didn’t make som revenue goal and they laid off a few people and I was on that list. More importantly, my young apprentice was secure.

  2. #2
    Twice in my teaching career I received a pink slip during “Budget crunches.” The first time, at the end of my first year, I told my Principal that I was considering a career change anyway. He gave me a long talk that there is more to life than money, and he encouraged me to remain in the profession. Then he pressed the upper administration to keep me on. 35 years later I retired and sent him a letter thanking him for his advice.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Feeley View Post
    ... I was employed as a programmer for a small company. In a way, I was a department of one ...
    Great story, Roger! I never thought about the risk of working for a small company with potential revenue ups and downs.
    What kind of software did you write?. Mine was mostly special projects related to scientific/tech programs but I did suffer through a few years of horribly boring and depressing databases work.

    I retired about 15 years ago with over 30 years at the same organization but for almost 20 years I too was a "department of one" more or less, on the org chart under a division/department/group but functionally independent. I had the freedom to work remotely or anywhere I wanted (and basically do whatever I wanted) but I had the constant pressure of staying 100% funded! Fortunately, I was the only one in the organization of several thousand doing what I did. Somehow I always found far more work than I could do so I never had to test the job security!

    BTW, for nearly 15 years I designed and developed software but the next 15 years was even more fun - except for occasional meetings I worked almost exclusively in my basement "dungeon". The commute was about 30 seconds.

    dungeon_PA149365s.jpg

    JKJ

  4. #4
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    When I was much younger I did the same sort of thing. I was working at a small glass company and liked the job. It was suppose to be working on automatic doors but I really wasn't doing much of it. When the economy turned for the worse I told the owners to let me go first. They didn't want to but they also knew that having a degree in electronics was being wasted where I was. The part I remember the most was I had a couple Kennedy tool boxes, one with my personal tools and the other was full of assorted screws. I was going through the screw box when one of the owners came up to me, handed me a beer, and laughingly said "keep the screws".

  5. #5
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    I have to brag on my oldest son a bit. Last year, at the onset of the pandemic, he was working as a garage door installer, and had only been there about 2 years. He had picked up the trade quickly, and they put him in his own truck within just a few months, soon training other new hires. He had even started rotating into on-call service. Anyway, he was also going to school online full-time, and they needed to cut back due to the statewide lockdown. He went in, and volunteered to be laid off, reasoning that he still lived at home, had minimal bills, good savings, and didn’t have a family to support. After a few weeks, they begged him to come back, which he did for a couple months, but then moved on to a job in his degree field (IT), and has since been promoted twice, though he will briefly be a department of one with his boss’ position being open, and an oncoming new hire in his previous position.
    Jason

    "Don't get stuck on stupid." --Lt. Gen. Russel Honore


  6. #6
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    Layoffs aren't always a bad thing. The father of a friend of mine worked for Martin Marietta in Denver in the early 1970s. He said that he'd never taken any official vacation time.

    In a typical (fiscal) year, he worked insane hours from October to early August, at which point the funding ran out and he was laid off. They would take a family vacation (wife was a school teacher) for the rest of August. After school started back up, he did all the odd chores/repairs/etc around the house that had piled up when he had no time to do them. Then on October 1, he was called back to work. Lather, rinse, repeat...for 17 years.
    Yoga class makes me feel like a total stud, mostly because I'm about as flexible as a 2x4.
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  7. #7
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    After working for myself for twenty five years, if there is ever a pink slip in my future I will know about it months ahead of time.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Citerone View Post
    ...I was considering a career change anyway. He gave me a long talk that there is more to life than money, and he encouraged me to remain in the profession...
    Funny, I got the exact opposite pep-talk by who ended up being my LAST ever manager, back in 1975 while working for Budget Rent-a-Car, he said, best I recollect: "If anyone ever tells you 'money isn't everything', tell them to take a flying leap. Money is EVERYTHING! No matter what you do, where you go, if you're alive, you need money. Without it you'll die. So whatever you do the rest of your life (I was 21) do whatever's necessary to make the most money you can!"

    --6 months later I was right here, in the same house that I'm typing this in, working full time with my parents. And I've been doing whatever's necessary to make the most money I can ever since!

    (well, maybe not EVERYTHING necessary, there ARE laws and stuff)
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Clausen View Post
    After working for myself for twenty five years, if there is ever a pink slip in my future I will know about it months ahead of time.

    Same here. Retired four years ago next week. In 1978, got laid off form a job I had held for four years. The company had changed owners. Told supervisor (whom I never got along with) to pay me what they owed me. Pay was always a week behind, so he comes out with two weeks pay. Then I dropped the bomb on him. Reminded him that the day before was my four year anniversary, and I was also owed two weeks vacation, along with two weeks sick leave. After some grumbling and checking company policy, he paid me for that. Then I reminded him that previous owner had requested me not to take vacation at end of year, but finish a job so company could be paid. Got paid for that also. So I go home with six and a half weeks pay, and on Monday morning I can draw unemployment benefits. This is the middle of the winter, and I was in the construction business, so jobs weren't exactly plentiful. But wait, it gets better! Due to economic times, previous year, we had been converted from salary to hourly. Because we started at the office, and quit at the job, but had to ride back to the office. I was owed overtime for all those hours. Another person in same boat as me filled a complaint with labor board. About three weeks later here comes a check in the mail for the overtime for the last year. Let's just say, it was VERY EXPENSIVE to let me go! Wound up with over three months pay, plus unemployment, which was charged against them.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post
    Great story, Roger! I never thought about the risk of working for a small company with potential revenue ups and downs.
    What kind of software did you write?.

    BTW, for nearly 15 years I designed and developed software but the next 15 years was even more fun - except for occasional meetings I worked almost exclusively in my basement "dungeon". The commute was about 30 seconds.

    JKJ
    I worked for Frontline Test Equipment now part of Teledyne Lecroy. My work was in a proprietary language called Decoderscript. I was the guy who took the bit stream, broke it into frames and decided the framed showing each field. I worked mostly with Bluetooth but also usb, wifi/op, NFC and a host of industrial protocols. When they first invented the language, all the software engineers knew how to write it because they converted a bunch of stuff to it and it was all hands on deck. By the time I joined the company, many of those old-timers had drifted off. While I was there, the last few disappeared and were replaced by very good people who had no experience with Decoderscript.

    So became a department of one simply by outliving all the others. The work was really a great match for me. I was at the end of a long career so there was no concern about the fact that no one else in the world that would use the language. An additional risk for the company was that I was Kansas and the company is in Charlottesville Virginia. I was finally able to justify a new hire and was just starting to feel that he could take over when things got a little rocky in part because we had just been acquired by Teledyne. I felt very strongly that it was in the company’s best interest to jettison me.

    No one will ever get me to say anything bad about Frontline. It’s a great little company with great people, great products and freakishly good customer support. I absolutely loved working with the customers. But I was starting to lose my edge and probably would have retired in a year anyway.

    I actually thought I was retired after 30 years with one company and four owners. I went to work for a little Kansas City company call Commodity News Services. That was acquired by Knight Ridder which was then acquired by Bridge Information which was bought by Reuters. I eventually got laid off by Reuters. We took a little trip and I was on a bike on Venice Beach when the owner of Frontline called to recruit me. So I spent 7 years reading very long protocol specifications and making them simple.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Feeley View Post
    ... a proprietary language called Decoderscript...
    That's interesting! I've never heard of Decoderscript but a google search shows some info, quick-start guide, a video, and what appears to be some kind of manual.

    I mostly stuck with C, Fortran, and a bit of Pascal. I often did UI and logical prototyping in Visual Basic since it was so quick, then did the real coding in C. This was long ago, I have no idea what's available now!

  12. #12
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    I once was telling my peers how much I hated our senior manager. I said that he couldn’t make it as Mickey Mouse at Disney, so he came here to work. Oh, yes, I said lots of things. Next thing I know, he is standing right next to me. “Malcolm,” he said, “check your mic button.” Oh crap. I gave a sheepish “radio check,” and he keyed his mic and said, “copy check- and come to my office after work.” I apparently had a hot mic the whole time.

    Believe it or not, he didn’t fire me. In fact, I ended up promoting well above him many years later. He said next time I have something to say, say it to him, not over a hot mic to the whole place.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    Funny, I got the exact opposite pep-talk by who ended up being my LAST ever manager, back in 1975 while working for Budget Rent-a-Car, he said, best I recollect: "If anyone ever tells you 'money isn't everything', tell them to take a flying leap. Money is EVERYTHING! No matter what you do, where you go, if you're alive, you need money. Without it you'll die. So whatever you do the rest of your life (I was 21) do whatever's necessary to make the most money you can!"

    --6 months later I was right here, in the same house that I'm typing this in, working full time with my parents. And I've been doing whatever's necessary to make the most money I can ever since!

    (well, maybe not EVERYTHING necessary, there ARE laws and stuff)
    I have a different perspective. I have intentionally taken time off to ski, hike, etc. during my working life. I worked full time but never worked the crazy hours many self-employed people do, and when I was employed for wages I averaged about 35 hours a week so I could volunteer as an EMT, play outside and work on improving my shop so I had a bolthole to retreat to if I needed to. As it turned out I did need to when my feet started to go to hell. Currently I am restricted to non-weight bearing activity for an indefinite period and not sorry I took my retirement on the installment plan. My father died at age 60 and the size of his bank account meant relatively little when his time came. Carpe diem.

  14. #14
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    Roger, you did a good thing. I hope your apprentice appreciated it. My very first teen job in fast food, the manager told me that the way to get promoted and get ahead, is to train someone to be ready to take your place. Its been good advice through the years.
    Hobbyist

  15. #15
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    The men in my family are not known for longevity.... Retired at 50 after 30 plus years of 60-80 hour weeks... Figured if necessary would go back to work at 60 if money tight.. still scrimping by...

    25 years later, still relatively healthy and active... GOD is good !!!!

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