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The IT Contract from Hell (itcontractor.com)
133 points by swombat on Nov 18, 2008 | hide | past | web | favorite | 27 comments

E-gad. I wouldn't want to work with any of these jerks, including the author. What kind of punk keeps a diary of how bad his contract is?

I've never had a bad contract -- and I've been in situations more stressful than this. A good attitude, good people skills (fundies a problem? Yeesh. What a piece of cake), and the ability to say "no" will fix about anything.

But I have worked with a lot of folks who were smarter than everybody else, who kept a running list of grievances, who had to work with poor managers.

Contracts are like playing cards. Each time you get a different combination of people, skills, and faults. I can imagine myself walking into a job with such a piss-poor manager: you either convince them that you are working to cover up for them and make them look good or you fold your cards and find another contract. Sulking for 5 months isn't much of a life. Life is short.

It was a bad contract, yes. But it takes two parties to continue something that painful. The author bears quite a bit of responsibility (and needs to grow up), in my opinion.

> What kind of punk keeps a diary of how bad his contract is?

An IT guy who has nothing better to do because they won't let him go online. Somebody who's working in hell and has one place to truly vent. Someone with self-restraint? This guy's unbelievably patient; I might've been out of there in a week. Looks like the catharsis paid off...give him a break.

There are two sides to every story, and all I got by reading this story is that the guy learned absolutely nothing in all that time he was there -- not how to respect others' viewpoints, not how to deal with insecure bosses, not how to make decisions regarding money vs. job enjoyment, not how to make allies of people who have different cultural/religious views than your own.

He probably has the ability to be a good worker -- there's too little to go on here. But I'm seeing a lack of seeing both sides that is crippling for a career. It just doesn't appeal to me. In fact, if anything it's sad to see a waste of time and energy.

Sorry. I don't see any catharsis. All I see is a lack of evolution in attitudes. There are a lot more bosses and jobs like this one. At the end of all of that, I'd really hope he made some decisions/grew so not to end up there again.

By calling it out in a harsh light, I _am_ trying to give him a break.

> By calling it out in a harsh light, I _am_ trying to give him a break.

You just made my brain reboot. How does that make any sense?

Because the easy thing to do would be to simply laugh along with his story and miss the larger problems he is skating around. That'd just reinforce the bad attitude. He needs somebody to say look, crappy jobs are part of life, if you want to have a better career instead of keeping a list of gripes learn some interpersonal and professional skills and don't do this again. It's not something to praise. You deserve better.

I guess why I'm harsher than usual on this article is that consulting is basically being somebody's smart friend for money. They pay you, and you're supposed to put their interests above your own for a period of time (within reason, of course). Friends don't keep running lists of grievances against each other -- it's counterproductive and it makes interpersonal progress damn near impossible.

I have a good friend who I went to school with. He is a card-carrying conservative evangelical holy-roller. Even became a minister. He also does network and server administration. His current gig? Working as network admin inside the beltway for one of the most liberal, anti-religious organizations on the planet (You'd instantly recognize the name)

Does he keep a list of how offensive these people are to him? Not at all. His job is to put their interests first and to take care of them as a friend. They like him so much he's been there over ten years and moved up a couple of spots.

You learn to deal with adverse conditions without holding grudges, keeping logs, or keeping it all inside. That's not an easy lesson to learn, but it's critical. I was trying to cut the guy some slack by pointing out that facing your problems and growing from them is the better way long-term. You don't want to get into a pattern where you're the smart genius and all the gigs you've worked were full of barely functional morons. That's Dilbert, not real life.

Sorry about running on so long. It just got under my skin as a professional skills thing. Everybody has war stories, but you tell them knowing that from the other side, you were the moron. I didn't see that.

EDIT: "Giving somebody a break"= doing the harder thing for you to do which results in the easier path for the person involved.

I think it sounded like fun. As long as you know you're not doomed to a lifetime of fail-work, a four-month stay like this could be an adventure. Expanding your horizons, meeting interesting new personalities etc.

It seems like the author got what he wanted out of the job - good money. Some of this seems a bit childish, but it's definitely a fun read. It's always awesome when a few guys at a party have stories like this one.

> I think it sounded like fun.

That was my reading of it too -- he enjoyed winding up his idiot boss.

Sulking for 5 months isn't much of a life. Life is short.

Exactly my thoughts. The author's tolerance for ignorance and blatant hostility is far greater than mine. I would have booked a flight back home as soon as I heard "We don't take the lord's name in vain." Life is too short to deal with such a low caliber of human being on a daily basis, especially for such a long time.

<i>I would have booked a flight back home as soon as I heard "We don't take the lord's name in vain."</i>

That attitude confuses me. It's a norm of professional behavior that is trivially easy to satisfy. Is it that much of an imposition that he not verbally curse in front of his coworkers? That's like a request that you come to work in the morning with clothes covering your belly button -- I mean sure, it constrains your options somewhat, but is it something to lose sleep over?

Mocking them about their religious convictions is also a bit more small-minded than I'd expect from someone working in a multicultural office. I shudder to think what would happen if he were exposed to someone with beliefs or behaviors a bit more exotic than a garden-variety evangelical Christian.

While I agree with your opinion, in this case it seems like the "norms of professional behavior" were more about control than about multiculturalism.

> It was a bad contract, yes. But it takes two parties to continue something that painful.

True - And a skilled contractors need to be able to deal with these situations - it's part and parcel of their job.

> What kind of punk keeps a diary of how bad his contract is?

I don't, but I always use a paper notebook where I keep track of precise start and end times, work done and what bosses ask me to do in each moment. In addition to keep me focused, it's sort of a CYA diary, and a couple of times it has been useful.

On the other hand, there's people like the woman in the story, that shows hostility from the beginning, not because others did something wrong, but preemptively being an ass just to intimidate and keep others under their thumb.

Yes, there are usually at least two sides to everything, but I enjoyed reading the story nevertheless!

As the guy said, the money was "that" good.

  2.The ADMINISTRATIVE FASCIST. Usually a retentive drone (or rarely, a harridan ex-secretary) who
    has been forced into system administration.

as a sysadmin, i can only wish i had the power to kick people out of meetings...

i guess i haven't tried shrieking.

There's nothing worse than an insecure boss.

A horny boss?

I'd reply "a horny, insecure boss?", but then people will accuse me of turning this place into another reddit - and they'll be right!

I thought that was a perk.

The "digital service" comment takes me back to right after college when I took a job full of idiots using odd and just-plain-wrong terminology like that all the time. Made me feel really dumb until I learned they were all full of shit. Ha.

At least the payment was not from hell, from the sounds of it.

The sad thing is that the company was not getting fleeced... They were paying a premium for having made a bad hire that they couldn't get rid of. I bet they settled on the high price after having found that anyone paid less leaves right away.

Those guys didn't know about the DNS? Heck, I bet they had another contractor setup their domain name too. :P

The statement below was right in the face!

"That's what I get paid the extra for"

Maybe I'm crazy, but that job sounds like fun. I love messing with incompetent people.

Mail this to Scott Adams!!!

How does anyone with dev background bear a job for any length of time where all you are doing is editing HTML and ftp'ing it?

The money was "that" good

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