What is this, the 2nd grade?

I’m still working for the Uncle, and for the Department from Hell. And believe me when I say it’s gotten bad. We’re basically little more than glorified referees on conference calls to try and fix issues that are bumped up to us. Every so often, an issue comes our way that we know doesn’t pass muster, but because they’re being pushed on us by people higher up the food chain than us, we have no choice but to stand up a conference calls, send out invites, emails, and make sure people actually get onto the calls.

Case in point, the other day, we had an issue forced upon us where an office’s PBX went down suddenly. The local IT manager was already handling it, and had already dispatched techs to go to this office, since it was a satellite clinic, and they were well on their way there, but for some unknown reason, one of the higher up’s found out about it, and insisted that we stand up a conference call. The local IT manager and his boss both wondered why the call was even necessary, as did we, but we simply told them we were ordered to do so by the higher up’s and so we did. When the local tech’s arrived, they merely bypassed the UPS that had died, and plugged the PBX directly into the wall, and all was fixed. When we sent the email notifying the higher up’s that the call was closed, the same one who ordered us to initiate the call in the first place asked us why we stood up the call, and our response was simple… “You ordered us to, remember?” and copied their own email into our reply. We never got a response back.

And speaking of the emails… Every email we send out has to be vetted by our supervisor. I’m not kidding. Before we can send out an update on one of these calls, which we’re required to do every two hours for every call, our supervisor has to go through the email with a fine-tooth comb to make sure there are no errors. Apparently, there are people in authority in Uncle that have nothing better to do with their day than nitpick people’s emails for the most insignificant things. As an example, I was very nearly written up by one of these people because I didn’t spell out an acronym that over 99% ov the staff in our entire agency knows by heart. And another time, I was dinged because, of all things, I used the word “update” instead of “updated”.

This is what my department has been reduced to. We’re a bunch of professionals being treated like little more than kids pretending to ne referees that need their homework checked constantly because someone in authority has nothing better to do than be a grammar Nazi. Even the supervisors are getting pissed because their emails are having to be vetted as much as ours. They can’t even do anything more than give us a pat on the head for any good work we actually do, since the mentality in the department has become “The beatings will continue until morale improves” from the people higher up. In fact, the supervisors are no longer allowed to let us leave a little early, nor can they give our on the spot or incentive awards anymore. The people with the authority to do so for the department are so far removed from us, I can count on one hand, the number of times I’ve heard their voices in the last two years.

So it’s no wonder that of the 25 people who were forcibly transferred into this hell hole a couple years back from my old department, only seven of us are left, with the rest quitting, retiring early, etc. They’ve been replaced by people equally pissed off for being put into this department…

Abject apologizings and an update!

Firstly, my most abject and humble apologizings for not being on the lst several months, they have been quite busy for me. Suffice to say, the business is starting to uptick, and my job with the Uncle is still as busy as ever! I also purchased and moved into my own abode, am owned by two cats, and several other things.

And now for the update. You all will be glad to know that the FNG is no longer employed by the Uncle. What was the final straw you may ask? He felt that the strain of submitting the form authorizing him to telework once every six months was too much effort for him, and he felt he no longer needed to do it. When his duly appointed supervisor informed him he would have no choice but to go to the nearest facility as a result of this, per department regulations, a facility which, by the way, was a 50-mile trip one way, he promptly told $supervisor where to shove it.

If you think this is the end of the story, think again. The FNG wouldn’t let sleeping dogs lie, and made a huge stink out of this, emailing everyone he could, and made quite a few enemies. It got so bad so fast, one of the Undersecretaries for IT personally called the AD administrator for our Region, told them to immediately disable the FNG’s AD account on their express order, put in a note saying as much, and not to re-enable the account unless it was by the Undersecretary’s explicit orders.

And in a hilarious series of failed attempts, the FNG tried calling in no less than 14 times to $helpDesk, and each time claiming to be a VIP or high ranking executive member of the organization, said his AD account & email were disabled. Each time, he was told in no uncertain terms what the note said in his AD account, and that they wouldn’t re-enable it. Eventually, his former supervisor put a note into the FNG’s help desk profile, telling the desk monkies not to take anything the FNG said seriously, that he was not a VIP, nor was he a high ranking member of the organization as he had claimed in the calls, and if he called again, they were free to simply hang up on him.

Oh, and it gets better too. The FNG is currently suing to get his job back. The concensus is that he stands little, if any chance of actually winning his case, since there’s an epic amount of evidence against him. We’ll see how this pans out…

Typical calls…

Since moving to my new team, here’s a short smattering of the kinds of calls I’ve been getting…

“Hi, I don’t know if I got the right group but… (proceeds with the Lord of the Rings in length version of her password problem)”

“Hi, I have a major incident, I can’t log into $program all of a sudden”

“I need a new monitor for my computer”

“Hi I need to reset my password”

Bear in mind, ours is the very last option on the call tree and very clearly states that we only handle major incidents affecting multiple sites, states, regions or the whole country, and not problems with individual computers or user issues. People up the food chain have sworn up and down¬† since March that they will remove our number from the help desk call tree, but have yet to do so, and on a hunch, I called in a few times to one of the other options and the shortest wait time I was quoted was 90 minutes. And when I tell these poor souls they have to call somewhere else, I’m usually met with a mix of indignation, resentment, resignation, requests to be transferred (which we can’t do since our phones have no transfer button), and outright anger since they confuse our inability to help them with an unwillingness to help them. In fact, some local IT shops specifically tell the users to call us directly and avoid the other options entirely, even though we have no way to help them due to our lack of access to many systems.

And yet, between this, the new management that has little to no clue what their doing, the utter lack of direction, being pulled in a half dozen different directions to do things I was never trained to do with programs I didn’t even know existed, the complete absence of anything resembling SOP’s, call lists, or any other written policies on how to perform this job (as well as many other things I haven’t mentioned), it’s no wonder most of the people in my group are actively looking for outside positions, dusting off their retirement papers, or otherwise loooking elsewhere for gainful employment.

The months of Hell

The last few months have been nothing short of baseball-bat-to-the-testicles hell at my day job.

Reason being, someone higherup the food chain than our division chief got it into theit head, without notifying us, clearing it with us, or even bothering to do much of anything else, that our entire department should be transferred from our current duties, and begin working major incidents. This all was because the contract for the people who were doin it previously wasn’t being renewed and they needed someone to take it over immediately, and hadn’t planned on anyone actually taking it over.

So you can imagine the chaos that took place. Literally, we all came in and discovered that the links to our normal dashboads were working with “Access Denied” error messages, we weren’t getting any of our normal email traffic, we couldn’t even log into our phones to contact each other. Our division chief gathered us together to let us know of the change the day after it happened, since no one ever bothered to even tell us (even our division chief until 9PM on the day it happened). So we were dead in the water as a department for a whole day before anyone even told us what happened.

And here’s the best part… the major incidents group was, and still is, a section of the Tier 1 Desk Monkey contractors that remained and were able to renew their contractors. So in essence, all of us who are full time employees working for the Uncle are essentially answering to contractors, ones who have proven time and time again that they have to rise multiple levels before we can consider them utterly incompetent. Currently, my direct supervisor is a contractor that’s been detailed to my shift, and he’s instituted policies which have been roundly groaned at. For example, every single call we get, we have to put a ticket in for it. The problem is, 99% of the calls we get, we have to tell the poor souls to call back into the Help Desk because they picked the wrong option on the call tree, all because these people want their passwords reset, they want a new mouse, their $hardware is broken, they can’t log in, and our team has no access to their accounts or to anything else at the local level.¬† The only reason they call us is because we’re the only people who pick up the phone in a quasi-reasonable amount of time, because local IT told them to, or because they think a password reset really is a Major Incident. But still, we have to put a ticket in for all of them, even if we just tell them to call the help desk back to pick Option 1, and not us. In fact, in the three months we’ve been doing this, call times to get passwords reset have gone DOWN to just over an hour. All because of the chaos that resulted from this whole contract kerfuffle.

And when we do get a call that is a justifiable major incident, whoever gets the call becomes the “Incident Commander”, even if they have 30 seconds left on their shift. And even though our team primarily consists of people who live in the Southeastern United States, the incident in question could theoretically be in Alaska, Guam, or any other US territory that has an office of ours. Oh, and did I mention that nobody even bothered to give us a list of anyone (or their contact information) that works for any of those other offices? And when our division cheif asked for it from the powers that be, he was told rather tersely to go find it himself.

That reminds me, we were literally given no SOP’s, no training, no lists of callbacks, no nothing on how to do our new jobs, and some of the issues we had to deal with have had a national impact, and in the case of one item I had to deal with just this week, cost millions of dollars in lost revenue, which doesn’t even take into account the sheer amount of overtime requred to get it back up and running.

This entire thing has been universally despised by our entire group, and two people have already quit. Three more are threatening to do the same, and another is in the process of retiring six months early. The only reason I haven’t left is simply because my side business isn’t making enough regular income to justify leaving just yet. Once I do though, I’ll be leaving with a quickness because this is definitely not what I signed up for…

Please let the door hit your ass on the way out… repeatedly

Found out today that effective this week, the FNG is no longer employed by our department.

The final straw began a few weeks ago. The FNG, quite literally out of nowhere, sent an email to the entire department, as well as $divisionChief’s boss, and their boss above them. He accused the acting supervisor and another staffmember of making racist remarks, as well as levelling an accusation of $divisionChief calling him an immature asshole, and “berating” him over the phone. Considering who the FNG CC’d on the email, the boss’ boss of $divisionChief ordered an investigation.

Almost immediately, the FNG’s own “evidence” came back to haunt him. The IM chat log the FNG pasted into the email… well, let’s just say there was nothing even remotely close to anything racist in the chat whatsoever on the part of the acting supervisor, the FNG simply blurted out that because they disagreed with him on some article he had read, then they (read: everyone else in the department) were all a bunch of racists, and launched into a tirade about how he was the smartest person in the entire department, how everyone else was beneath him, that we weere all jealous of his genius, and he shouldn’t have to follow all these rules $divisionChief and others were making him follow. You know, rules like standardizing our email signature, making sure we’re logged in on time, answering the phones, replying to emails in a professional manner, those sorts of things.

Quite a few people were interviewed as part of the investigation, and they had a tsunami of evidence against the FNG over the last 5 years concerning his behavior and general inability to do his job, including multiple cases of gross insubordination, deliberately ignoring rules, conflict of interest when he advertised his personal business in his email signature, refusing to do or not even knowing the basic aspects of his job, even AFTER he was told how to do it, and in one case, nearly causing the death of a patient. There were literally 5 years of chat logs, emails, reports of contact, formal reprimands, and otherdocuments that the supervisor and $divisionChief presented, showing that the FNG was, at best, completely incompetent. I and others presented further emails and chat logs, showing the FNG had no clue how to do his job, and when we tried to steer him in the right direction, he would frequently become difficult, if not outright beliggerent, and that the 18 certifications weren’t worth a crumped pile of soiled toilet paper. In addition, those interviewed showed that whenever he was on-shift, he frequently caused several of us to do more work because not only would we try to correct him, we would have to frequently go behind him in a ticket or email, and make sure he actually did that was asked of him. More than a few times, he’d disappear for hours on end, and not a soul could get a hold of him via email, IM or on the phone. When one of us finally did, the FNG would seem annoyed, as if we had interrupted him, and work was a distraction to whatever it was he was doing.

There was also some evidence brought to light that the FNG may not have been entirely honest about his work experience and more specifically, his time in the military. When he was asked about his time in the military, he got cagy, saying he spent 4 years as a medical corpsman/field medic, but couldn’t give basic details on even the simplest procedures performed by one when another staffmember (also a field medic) asked him. Even when presented with a video from a few years ago, in which the FNG was interviewed and himself stated that he washed out of Basic Training due to a broken bone in his foot, he refused to acknowledge the video’s existence. One of the people interviewed also told the investigators that he had previously worked with the FNG at a local facility, and that the FNG was frequently argumentative with supervisors and coworkers alike, would artificially inflate his numbers to make it look like he was doing more work than anyone else, would make unauthorized changes to systems, which sometimes caused them to crash, then deny ever making those changes despite evidence showing what he did and when. In one case, the FNG was asked to tape a note to doors on a medical wing notifying people that they were due for a computer update soon. Instead of creating just a single ticket to log the time spent, he put in a high-priority ticket for every…. single…. door that he put the note on, stating that he took several hours on each ticket. When his boss confronted him about that and told him not to inflate his numbers like that, the FNG became upset because he was already on thin ice for not working on enough tickets, only cherrypicking the easy ones. Oh, and the FNG’s coworker said, flat out, that when the FNG finally transferred out, the entire department went out to celebrate, and were only too happy to be rid of him.

All told, the investigation took only a couple weeks, which is blindingly fast for a gov’t investigation, and he was told that Friday was his last official day with us.