It's a holiday here in the US (Memorial Day), so enjoy this Classic WTF, originally published on Nov 1st, 2011.


Not for the first time, Chuck was happy he didn't have any lawn ornaments. First, they were just plain tacky. But more important, is that the screaming lunatic with foam flying from his lips while beating on your door and screaming like his face was on fire might throw them through a window. In a way, the screaming lunatic was all the lawn ornamentation Chuck needed.

"After all I've done for you, you treat me this way?" the maniac screeched while kicking at Chuck's front door. "Nobody does this to me! You'll pay you ungrateful little turd! You'll pay!"

Something had gone terribly wrong in Chuck's life. Sadly, this was something that he probably should have seen coming as early as the first day at his new job.

Only a few short weeks earlier, the new job had seemed pretty nice. Chuck's new job was for a small company run by a husband and wife team doing software and IT work for local school districts. The small company required everyone to be a "jack-of-all-trades", handling software, hardware, and even cable pulling at customer sites. Given that this was the late 80s, that wasn't too incredible for a small company. Chuck looked at it as an opportunity to broaden his skills.

Everything that happened at the company depended on Paul. Paul was the technical guy. He designed the software, wrote most of it, and was the key to the entire operation. After Chuck interviewed with Steve and Sally, the owners, the next person he talked to was Paul. If Paul hadn't liked him, Chuck wouldn't have gotten the job. But Paul did like him. Chuck got the job and sat at a desk just across from Paul's office. It was his first day, and everything seemed lovely.

At least, it all seemed lovely until Steve and Paul started shouting obscenities at each other in Paul's office. It got suddenly a lot less lovely when Paul and Steve tumbled out into the corridor, fists swinging. Steve had the fit figure of someone who valued hitting the gym, but Paul had the uber-nerd's determination to not take any crap and a significant mass advantage. The pile of fists and shouts rolled down the corridor and out the front door, leaving behind an awkward silence in the office. The entire office sat in stunned silence while Sally chased after her husband.

Paul didn't come back. Chuck decided it was time to start looking for a new job right then.

While he searched, Steve and Sally got increasingly paranoid. Steve changed the locks on the doors three times: the first time because he claimed Paul never returned his key, the second because Steve left the new key unattended for fifteen minutes, and the third for no reason anyone could ascertain. The schedule of who was going to which customer site each day became a subject of great secrecy, guarded by ancient Aztec skeletons cursed to walk the earth for all eternity, and the office assistant. Sally instructed the office assistant to never give out that information over the phone, and to never post the schedule more than a day in advance. This meant each employee had to end their day with a trip from one corner of the county back to the office to determine which corner of the county they needed to visit the next day. The only reprieve was a multi-day engagement, where you knew where you'd be for the next few days.

That was inconvenient, but the worst bit of bizarre paranoia was Sally's insistence on keeping all of the desks clean. She didn't simply order it, she enforced it. Anything left on a desktop for more than a day or two was thrown into the trash. You could easily spend three days at a customer site and return to find the very expensive box of PBX software you were learning to use had been thrown away. In fact, this happened to Chuck not once, but three times, even when he left a note explicitly asking that the software be left where it was, since he was actively working with it. He couldn't put it in a filing cabinet- they were all locked and he wasn't permitted a key.

Chuck simply kept his head down while cutting out for interviews on lunch and on the weekends. He got his better offer on a Saturday, the same day as the mandatory "Team Building Meeting". The meeting, as with many things, was Sally's show. She wanted to get the entire company together on the weekend to go through pointless exercises in the name of "team building", and spend the entire day doing it. Her idea of team-building closely resembled drunken party games, but without the drunkeness, rendering them embarassingly boring and inane. At one point, she spent an hour talking about each employee and the virtue that she felt best represented them and why. Steve, of course, got "Leadership". Some of the other technical people got things like "Creativity" and "Perseverence". Chuck got "Loyalty".

First thing on Monday morning, Chuck called in his two-weeks' notice. Steve said that he was sorry to see him go, and wished him luck in future endeavors. Everything seemed lovely, until that night, when Chuck found himself very happy that there were no lawn ornaments for Steve to throw through his windows. Instead of serving out two more weeks with Steve's company, Chuck got a bit of an unplanned vacation. Steve got a free ride in a police car.