In 2006, shortly after I began work at the City of Campbell River as Senior Geographic Information System Analyst I experienced an epiphany concerning the Information Systems Manager, the person to whom I reported; you know: my boss; let's call her MJ.
In the staff lunchroom, I mentioned that I was from a family of 10 children and learned that MJ also grew up in a family of 10, but; with nine brothers.
Being from a family of 10, I am, of course, Catholic. I grew up outside the city of Carmel Indiana, the city that in 2010 was voted the best small city to live in in the United States. We lived adjacent to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and School and each morning at 6:30 am I served as an altar boy while my mother played the organ and sang the mass.
So I do know a conservative when I see one, and I do understand what growing up on the east coast of Canada in a Catholic family with nine brothers could be like, and I did feel a deep sense of compassion for MJ. However, this feeling was immediately followed by the striking realization that the BC Justice Institute Conflict Resolution and Negotiation training that I had taken while working for CANFOR in Woss was not going to work in this situation and it showed on my face.
When Henry Ford introduced the Model-T in 1909 it was reported that he said “You can have any color you want, as long as it's black.” And thus it was with the MJ.
I wrote a program on IBM punch cards in 1969, built a personal computer in 1979 that ran CPM and the first version of basic and pascal. I still have my dog-eared copy of Inside Macintosh printed in 1985, and installed the dos based Terrasoft Geographic Information System for the Englewood Logging Division beginning in 1989. I was multilingual: Dbase, RBase, FoxPro, MS Access, Oracle and SQL, Novell, Unix, NT plus countless custom application programming languages. I developed Quality Assurance Processes designed to ensure continuous improvements in Rapid Development Projects as a Technical Team Leader, Corporate Coordinator and later as Manager of Information Systems for TMAR Industries.
I have meditated since 1972, swam 2-8 km a week at Strathcona Pools and in 2005 dropped $25k over five weeks in Europe. I had over $250k in RRSPS. My income was increasing year over year due to growing $60+ per hour consulting and remote system management income. The day I returned from Europe in September 2005, in receivership TMAR ended my services. TMAR was my bread and butter, my golden goose, everything else was desert. I needed a new TMAR and I wanted to get my weight under 200 pounds where I had been stuck. Some people, like Aquaman swam like fish. I swim like a barge, but in the fast lane, but when Aquaman got into the pool, I moved over to the slow lane. He could swim a full lap underwater upside down. No mater how good you are, there's always someone incredibly better!
In January 2006 I had a MI swimming the Strathcona Pools. A few months later the position at the city came to my attention. I have good memories working with the people at Englewood, developing geographic information system data for the first time. Despite my spider sense I took the job. I made $20+ per hour working for the City of Campbell River, I was not hired not because of my GIS experience, which was out of date, but because I had tens of thousands of hours solving complex technical problems. I took the job because I enjoy my work. The technology at the city had a lot of problems.
I informed MJ that I’d had a MI a few months earlier. My career development plan was to work for five more years, and retire, I was in the check-out lane looking for a soft landing. I really enjoyed solving complex technical problems. In the first year of employment, I did not work on GIS at all. I became a firefighter. Often putting out and managing fires started by the MJ. During my first performance review, MJ informed me that she did not give out 4’s in a ranking that went 1 to 4. My reply was fine but I would not accept any ranking below 3. Basically go bully someone else. I learned technology in the school of hard knocks and was well aware of my skill sets.
The City of Campbell River technical team managed by MJ was composed of myself, Teresa (user support) and Roger the System Administrator. The three of us were crammed into a narrow room with glass walls on two sides, and too many lights. Teresa was a bubbly beachball mother and grandmother who had previously been employed as a camp cook who looked after Jake our yellow lab with her female partner who was a blacksmith. Colorful! I'd grown up working as a HD Marine Mechanic. Technology was a second career.
Roger had three monitors quickly moving from screen to screen and application to application, while twirling a pencil, chewing his lip and tapping out morse code on the floor with his foot. I liked Roger. Sometime in 2007, MJ went to work on Roger. Up until that time MJ fought most of her battles with contractors and consultants but for some reason MJ began to work on Roger, questioning his every movement, day after day in the tight quarters. Big time personal space problems. Total relentless harassment.
Up until that time I had focused on the job rather then worry about problems above my pay grade but sitting beside Roger while MJ was interrogating him was very difficult. MJ was a project manager, knowledgeable but with no technical skills that I was aware of. I was the one who fixed her email etc. She was the bull in a delicate technological china shop, first, foremost and always a bully! Everyone knew that.
Roger went on stress leave. He was the system administrator. We were both on 24 hour call and carried blackberries.
The evening the day after Roger went on stress leave, I received a phone call from MJ who requested that I go into the office and determine why she could not connect to the network. When I got there, everything in the computer room was off. Nothing was on. I had never seen anything like it. The the entire UPS system was cross-wired creating a single point of failure for the entire City of Campbell River computer system. Something triggered the collapse of the UPS array shutting down in the entire server room. I could not believe what I was seeing!
It was an incredible wonder to behold, and I still smile at the memory, but then it took me all week to verify my analysis with the USP vendor and plan a course of action, but then while fixing the problem, after hours at the end of a long week, a year after suffering a heart attack, I disconnected the wrong cord and the drive array containing all the cities data crashed.
Hyper stressful. What if the UPS was not the only problem? What if the backup system tapes were blank?
It took until late Sunday to restore the system making it over a 80 hours of work over 7 days. I was not going to deal with this level of stress for $20 hr. I did not want to be system administrator while Roger was on stress leave so the next day I demanded that MJ hire Zack to fill in for Roger. When Roger came back from stress leave I attempted to talk with him and Teressa about the situation but it was like watching deer in your headlights.
MJ took sick leave due to a pulmonary embolism.
While MJ was sick, Teresa became the go between, and began daily inquisitions as if she were MJ and I was Roger. I became extremally stressed, concerned that I had become the next Roger. I tried to get help from the union. The week MJ returned she scheduled a meeting and with no warning I was I was given a formal warning. The City has a three strikes policy. Three strikes and you are out. Three days before becoming eligible for the pension plan. I Quit. She was not going to stop.
Although I did not know it at the time Statin neurotoxins were kicking in. I had become mentally ill.
Human Resource agents of the City of Campbell River were totally negligent in performing due diligence prior to hiring this individual as a manager, completely oblivious to her escalating behavior and incapable of evaluating the business risks associated with it. Everyone knew she was a bully, even Zack. And a special shout out to all the useless people at CUPE: Thanks for Nothing!
Enough of this Shit: You do the Math.
Who’s laughing now Ray?
I am that shipwreck, my wife the volunteer.
Rant 103 - My Bipolar Holiday