Archive for July, 2009

Sad News

K just called me from Missouri with sad news. S, K’s former co-worker and our friend, lost her battle with cancer last night. S found out she had cancer just a few days ago. She had her first chemo treatment yesterday and died last night. She leaves behind a daughter in college and a fifteen your old son from her first marriage plus her current husband. K and his colleagues in the Denver office are stunned and emotionally devastated by this loss. I’m really sad too. I want to go into a conference room and have a good cry. It will be a blue day even though K comes home this afternoon.

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A Closet Misogynist

I’m beginning to wonder if Chatty Cathy (CC) is a misogynist. Yesterday, he threw another tantrum when a female engineer asked him to prioritize a few code changes that needed to be included in the release scheduled to go out on Monday. You would have thought she asked him to set himself on fire. He bitched about having to make the changes for at least two hours. Everyone he talked to had to hear the story. I stayed in my office but wanted to tell him to shut the fuck up and change the code. He spent more time complaining about the task than what it took to execute. Later in the day he started trashing another female engineer. He said she was the company’s worst engineer and a few other snide comments that would take too long to explain in this forum. I’ve known this woman for many years and agree that she is not on top of her game like she used to be. However, she is not the worst engineer in the company. There are a few others I consider to be lacking in talent and do not have this woman’s product knowledge. All of this got me thinking. I’ve never heard CC talk bad about a man nor have conflict with a man. It’s always a woman. He seems to have difficulty with professional relationships with women. Could CC be a closet misogynist? Or is it a case of his wife ruling the roost at home so he tries to bully the women in the office?

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Yippy Skippy

The stars came into alignment and a wonderful thing happened. Here’s a little history to put everything into perspective.

I started working for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company on August 8, 1977. What I considered a temporary job turned into a thirty-one career. Southwestern Bell was part of the Bell System monopoly that was controlled by AT&T. In 1982 AT&T agreed to divest itself of the wholly owned Bell operating companies in order to settle an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Justice Department. The Modification of Final Judgment (MFJ) settled United States v. AT&T, a landmark antitrust suit that the government filed in 1974. AT&T divested itself of the regional Bell operating companies on January 1, 1984. This event has been known as divestiture by anyone familiar with the Untied States telecommunications history. At divestiture I was moved from Southwestern Bell to AT&T. After AT&T I worked for a series of companies that could all trace their roots back to the Bell System. This includes the company that laid me off in November and the company that is laying me off today (I’m still working the contract labor gig). This history is important because of a clause in the MFJ that allows employees to carry their seniority with them if they move between companies that were spun off from, or, created when the Bell System was split up.

When I started with the current company I petitioned to have my service bridged. On Monday I was notified that my service had been bridged. This means my severance pay will increase from five weeks to twenty-five weeks of pay. I will also get paid for a few more unused vacation days. In addition, I qualify for full retirement with health care benefits. I didn’t qualify for full retirement at the previous company because the retirement age is 55. The extra cash will be nice but I’m more concerned about the heath benefits. I will be able to get heath benefit coverage if for some reason I’m no longer covered by K’s benefits. A rather unfortunate chain of events has turned into a wonder thing. I guess everything happens for a reason.

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The stars are coming into alignment and something really wonderful could happen this week. More about this later in the week.

I hosted a dinner party reunion on Saturday night for a few former peers. I think everyone had a good time in spite of torrential downpour that necessitated moving the dinner inside after the soup course. We laughed and rehashed old work stories. It was so much fun.

Cindi’s boyfriend has been begging her to get back together. She’s told him the apologies are too little too late. He still needs to be out of the house by September 1st.

Patty stopped by on Sunday afternoon. I was tending to the garden in the front yard as she was returning home from the liquor store. She enjoyed a glass of wine while I weeded. Patty is doing so much better now. She even mentioned that perhaps some day she might meet another man of Stephen’s caliber. It’s great to hear her talk so positively about the future.

K called this morning to tell me about our friend and his former co-worker, S. S has been diagnosed with late stage cancer that has spread to her nervous system and brain. I don’t have all the details but the prognosis seems grim. I’m saddened by this news because she is a really good person and I always think about her beautiful smile when her name is mentioned.

My boss returned to work today after a three week trip to Italy to visit her family. She’s sporting a new shorted hair style, a nice tan, a casual summer outfit and sassy pair of sandals with three inch heels. She looks really good. It’s about time one these women actually dressed a little nicer.

K comes home on Friday night! I can’t believe the three week business trip is almost over.

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Toxic Cleanup

Cindi called last night to fill me in on the latest drama in her life. She returned to her house on Wednesday while the boyfriend was at work to pick up some clothes, check on the house and to get the concert tickets that the boyfriend gave her for her birthday. Cindi was horrified to find out the boyfriend stopped watering the new landscaping so most of the plants are dead. Then she discovered the concert tickets were gone. A quick call to the boyfriend confirmed that he took the tickets. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Cindi completely lost it while driving out of the canyon (her house is located in a remote canyon between Boulder and Golden) back to Denver. She called the boyfriend and told him to get out of the house by September 1st. He pleaded with her to try to make the relationship work. When she wouldn’t give in the conversation took a turn for the worse. He once again accused her of cheating and having a secret black lover (Accusing Cindi of cheating with a black man is a recurring theme in his accusations). After hanging up on the boyfriend she called her lawyer for legal advice on evicting the boyfirend and a few other issues. She has also started looking for a female roommate.

Cindi finally drove a steak through the heart of this toxic relationship. I don’t know why it took so long. Hopefully she will be able to clean this mess up in short order. However, I don’t know if the boyfriend will move out so easily. He doesn’t have anywhere to go. Even though he makes good money he has horrible credit and no savings. That’s why Cindi purchased the house with her father. I’m sure there will be more drama to come. I’m so thankful she finally came to her senses.

Here are some of the more ridiculous things the boyfriend has said to Cindi:

If you really knew me you would know that even though I had a knife in my hands I would never hurt you.

It’s your fault I have to go to domestic violence counseling.

It’s your fault I got arrested

Why can’t you tell me where you are living? Are you living with your new lover?

He’s called her a cunt, a bitch, a whore, a slut and a few more things.

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See You Next Friday

K called me from the Denver airport last night. He was at DIA for a short layover on his way to Albuquerque for a meeting with DOE (Department of Energy). When he booked the ticket there was no indication that the flight stopped in Denver. His return flight to Missouri is on Friday afternoon. Had he known the flight stopped in Denver he could have spent the weekend at home. Such is the life of a road warrior. Thankfully, K will be home on the 31st.

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The top brass have explained to the worker bees why the company is trying to buy part of the bankrupt company. The spin doctors have been hard at work crafting the explanation. It seems that the purchase is a fantastic bargain. The company is only paying US475 million for a division that brings in 2 billion a year in revenue. So the acquisition will pay for itself in just a few months. Of course the purchase has to be approved by the Canadian court system and a few regulatory agencies. There’s also a slim possibility that another suitor could submit a bid. However, this is highly unlikely since the division has been on the market for about six months and no other company has submitted a bid. The one flaw I can find in the company’s explanation is that there is no guarantee that the $2 billion revenue stream will continue (it was not explained if the 2 billion was US dollars or Canadian). Competitors, including the company, have been actively trying to lure customers away from the bankrupt entity by offer incredible deals to replace their systems. One has to wonder how many customers the division will have once the dust settles. Also, there is the problem of what to do with the employees of the bankrupt company. I’m sure a lot of them will be tossed out the door in order to reduce the expenses associated with the purchase. The company doesn’t need to sales forces, two accounting departments, two legal departments or two marketing departments. The people who will suffer are the employees while the private equity owners of my company get richer and richer. Nothing is more American than profiting off the misfortune of others.

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Cindi Update

Cindi is still staying with friends. She has arranged for places to stay until the end of August. She has talked to the boyfriend on the phone but will not meet with him without a third party present. So far no meetings have been arranged. Cindi has suggested they meet with his domestic violence counselor but that hasn’t happened either. She only returns to house to pick up clothes when he is at work. He is still off his meds and seems to be a loose canon. If Cindi doesn’t take his call he calls back again and again and again. Each time the tone of the message gets increasingly angry. I get the feeling that she wants to give him one more chance. I hope that doesn’t happen. Cindi needs to end this relationship soon.

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An Acquisition

The privately held corporation that I’m contracted to announced that it is buying a division of a bankrupt multinational telecommunication equipment manufacturer headquartered in Toronto. The purchase price is US475 million. The announcement created a lot of buzz in the office since the company continues to layoff people yet has sufficient funds to make this purchase. I understand the strategic intent of this purchase is to increase market share and revenue. However, it has done nothing to improve the low morale of the employees. They’re pissed.

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Chatty Cathy (CC) was especially talkative on Friday. I learned the following things about CC just listening to the various conversations he had with people in the office including me.

CC’s children got new shoes on Friday. His wife spent more than what was budgeted.

CC wife is pack rat.

CC house is filled with chotchkies. It drives CC mad.

CC likes to buy electronic gear. He has a home theater system that he has upgraded three times.

CC has four flat screens TVs at home.

CC knows people think he is a brown noser but defends his actions as necessary conversations with those higher on the food chain.

CC has been to France but didn’t visit Paris. He thinks Paris is a tourist trap.

CC got a new friend with a PHD in physics on a social networking site for professionals. When I asked if his new friend was an astrophysicist or a nuclear physicist he got a blank look on his face and stated that he didn’t know. It must be a really strong relationship.

CC didn’t learn a thing about me on Friday. He didn’t ask any questions about my life. Our conversations were like lectures. He did the talking and I listened.

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