Bitt (wfaulk) wrote,


I never got around to telling you about my freakshow cubiclemate. Now that he's been fired, I suppose I might as well give you the whole story, as I knew it, and as was told to me.

We were both Unix admins. He had been there quite a while before I arrived on the scene, and he seemed friendly enough at first. The first problematic encounter was when we got in a new computer to install. He asked for my help physically installing the machine in a rack, and it was a cheap rackmount kit, which meant, as usual, that there was a lot of fiddling to do with it. At some point during this, he suggests that we just put it on a shelf. Now, it's a 1U device, and putting it on a shelf would mean wasting at least one other unit just for the shelf itself, and would mean that the innards would be virtually inaccessible, so I convince him to try for another few minutes to get it installed properly. We figure out what needs to happen, and we get about halfway through and go home. I get in the next day earlier than he does, so I thought I'd finish off screwing down the rackmount kit. I didn't really have a lot to do on my own anyway, as this was my first week or so. He comes in a few minutes after I start doing this, and proceeds to yell at me for, as far as I can figure, stepping on his professional toes. And I mean yell. At some point I told him to calm down, and he yelled at me that he was calm. This was only the first of these such incidents. I was later to find out that it was the first only for me.

He was also a spaz. Sometimes he would just not shut up. After the second or so time that he yelled at me, I resigned myself to just minding my own business. But that's hard to do when we're the only pair of Unix admins. “Fortunately”, he decided that half the Unix machines would be his to administer and the other half would be mine. Of course, that makes no sense. Despite the fact that it meant that I would have to deal with him more, I had to nix that arrangement, as it just didn't work. Anyway, like I said, he was a spaz. This is probably best summarized in this verbal tic that he had. He would be moving so fast that when he was talking and his brain couldn't quite keep up with his mouth, he'd just repeat things. Like this: "We need to update the password file, the password file, password, you know, the password file?" It was annoying at best. It was worse on some days than other days. At some point, someone told me that he'd been using Ephedra to lose weight. I think he was still on it, but he denied it. Of course, I never asked, and denials of unasked questions would seem to be some sort fo sign. Also, very early on in my time with him, he arbitrarily went off on this rant about how he thinks that kids these days are overmedicated, a stance I generally agree with, but a few weeks later, I came to the conclusion that it's because he had been medicated as a kid. He should probably have still been on it. While Ritalin has that paradixical effect, I think that Ephedra probably doesn't.

Slowly, I came to the realization that our manager was looking for a reason to fire him. When I went to him and complained about the times that he yelled at me, he told me to make sure that I told him everything inappropriate that he did. I didn't really follow that direction too well. I didn't want to be the tattletale that got him fired, even if the decision had already been made. As the months went on, though, I got less and less inclined to humor him. I was out with some friends and him at lunch one day and we were making fun of him for using a straw, just general ribbing. So he gets ready to tell us something he saw that was disgusting that made him use a straw. So I get ready for some apocryphal tale about how waiters regularly licked glasses or something and then he tells us that he saw, get ready for this, waiters touch the side of pitchers to the lip of his glass. Oh. My. God. I did not stop making fun of him for that until he was fired.

During the latter months he was there, he was going through a divorce. He has some number of children. Two or three maybe? And I think they're less than 10 years old. I couldn't really tell you for certain, since, unlike every other father I've ever worked with, I don't think he mentioned them more than two times. He talked about his pet turtle more. Seriously; I'm not exaggerating in the least. Anyway, it seems that he was getting a divorce from his wife because she got fat. Of course, he was pretty chunky, too, before he started taking the Ephedra. And his rational excuse for divorcing her because she was fat was that she wasn't interested in her health. That's right; the guy taking Ephedra said that. Now, I get the impression that she was a basket case, too, but that was never a reason that he used until they stopped living together. Best of all, another coworker that I otherwise liked thought all this was funny, so would stop by our cubicle and ask him about it all the time. I heard enough about it without that, but that made it unbearable. I frequently just had to leave and wander around the building.

Then I started hearing about how he'd pissed off other folks. Like the time that, out of the blue, he demanded that one of our vendors take him out to lunch, not that he was buying anything from her. And he apparently demanded to the point that she wouldn't talk to him for a few months. There was something about him yelling at an executive in the company, too. I only got that complete story after he left.

It seems that when they started looking for somebody that culminated in hiring me, they were looking for a technical lead to be in charge of Unix and Windows folks. He was apparently upset by this. I'm not sure if he felt that he didn't need one, or if it should be him, or what. Apparently he was so upset that he stormed into a VP's office and started yelling at him. Based on my experiences, I imagine that this was a yelling, and not just strong words. I was told that he should have been fired then. I assume that the problem was that they had no other Unix folks, the other one having left a few months before. Then they decided to change the opening from a tech lead to another Unix admin. I think I was hired specifically to replace him. I think that that's the reason that he didn't like me much. And who could blame him, really? I can't. But there was more than enough other stuff to dislike him about, so I'm not exactly upset at his dismissal.
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