People disappear all the time – never to be seen again. You come to work one day, and so and so in the cubicle or desk adjacent is gone. Did they get fired? Did they have a family emergency? Did they leave for a new role? No one knows.
And this is how I got my first PM job … because somebody disappeared.
It’s 2004, Dre probably isn’t a year old yet, or maybe he is. I’m working at this small company – significantly smaller than the support team at IBM Canada; twenty employees tops. I can’t remember how I got the job, but I did many much contract workings – several recruiters had my info.
This company did maintenance, upgrades and repair on computers as well as complete network installs for real estate, pet stores, law offices, architecture companies, elderly homes and other types that fail to come to mind at the moment.
I started on the help desk working alongside Moses and Darwin. The disappeared lady, or PM, did all the project work to schedule installs and repairs. She worked with multiple suppliers, network cabling, and equipment guys, and we’d purchase directly from Dell or IBM as needed. We had two account managers and five or six tech guys on the road all day – They’d stop by the office in the morning to pick up equipment and be gone for the day. She had to know their regular schedule and work projects into it. Sometimes work had to be completed during the evening or weekend to avoid disruption. She’d put the gear out for everyone so they could grab and go. Before the guys went onsite, the help desk and repair teams prepped all servers by installing parts and software and configuring them as much as possible.
We also had a part-time accountant – who’d mostly work with the owner and disappeared lady.
AI ART INTERLUDE AND OTHER NEWS
My description: Two rabbits boxing in the forest, oil painting. I received four versions – below are my two favourites.
By the way, I found my PMI test result the other day. I was so nervous that day.
Sometimes, the help desk guys would be on the road too – including me, eventually, but I hated working while people watched (still do). Sometimes a client would drop off a unit for service, and the owner would invite them to the back while I was replacing parts or installing software – what a fuckin’ nightmare that was.
I was there to see the shift when people stopped repairing and would replace instead. And one of the repair guys we had in the back got fired because he couldn’t transition to being in front of clients all day.
Life was good at work, but my boss was a fuckin’ piece of shit. He would come out of his office yelling at whomever. The first time he did that, when I was included in his rant, calmly, I said, “I don’t like when you talk to me that way.” And he never did again. But he’d still yell at everyone else if he felt like it.
By the way, always stand up for yourself! I don’t care who the person is, and you don’t have to be rude or disrespectful when doing it. Bullies are everywhere! School bullies don’t stop bullying when school’s out.
In retrospect, he might have done it whenever a client called him and yelled, a version of paying it forward. He’d yell at us without knowing what the issue was from our side or who might have been responsible.
A better approach would. have been to talk to the individual the client called out privately. Maybe he needed to remind us who’s boss. Loser!
And he’d walk all over Moses. At first, I’d feel sorry for him, but if I can stand up for myself, so can you. And if a shitty boss can change his way for one person, then he can change for all.
“Moses! Coffee!” Moses would stop what he was doing to get it. Back then, Coffee Time or Country Style was more popular than Tim Hortons. (my memory is faulty).
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I’m enjoying the work, learning, helping out as needed, and one day, about six months in, no one knows where the PM is. Over two or three days, everyone asks about her, but calls go unanswered. Next thing I know, later that week, the owner is asking me to fill in. He seemed hopeful that she would return. She never did.
During the first three months in the role, in addition to doing all the standard tasks, I cleaned up her mess with the accountant’s help. I quickly understood why she had left. Purchase orders were never closed, and clients weren’t invoiced. We spent evenings backtracking, cross-checking and reconciling. Once that was over, and I found my rhythm, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t do the work. It was easy. One of the more difficult tasks came later when the owner wanted me to order inventory just in time (JIT) – that way, he’s not paying too far upfront before we could invoice the client.
I like being prepared, so JIT was hella stressful – Once I knew the date for the installation, I also had to know how long it would take for different suppliers to ship, and I added a buffer of a day or two. Sometimes I’d have to order in parts. If the cable guys had to go in first, I’d get their stuff. Then I’d get the computers for our guys. And if builders had to do their thing before the cable guys could go in, I’d have to coordinate that too.
More than anything, I loved all the moving parts, the problem-solving of it, the coordinating, collaborating and working with different people and the customer service. I still love it! And I was wearing multiple hats because I was also accountable /responsible for installing and configuring the servers. Before I’d help out – now I had to ensure it was done. This is why I love small companies – with the right ones, there’s so much to do and learn.
Oh! My! God! If it goes without saying, why are you saying it !?!Sam
I am certain I’ve told this story twice before, and that’s alright. Right! Maybe now with additional details and more random name changes.