Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Cow-orkers I

She Who Can't Be Ignored

One of our band of monkeys is an Eastern European. She joined the company a few months before me. She's not entirely unattractive though I understand from others who went on a rafting outing that there's a lot of cottage cheese for those lucky souls who get the swimsuit view of a hard-to-miss posterior.

I have a question! You have to help me!

This is Ripa's catchphrase. It's preceded by the victim's name and is called out in shrill tones. She's been here six years now. One would think she could solve just one ticket all on her own. One would be wrong, even if dealing with exact same problem she'd worked on a week earlier.

I have a question!

I shudder and try to ignore her.

REC! You have to help me!

I quickly minimise Age of Empires as I see her making her way over.

The COOOstomer is doing... something he shouldn't be. Natch. And not only was he dumb enough to do that, the sad bastard ended up with Ripa handling his ticket. Which means that one of us will actually do the work or -- more likely -- will tell her the same damed thing we've told her a hundred times. There's a 50-50 chance that she'll protest and argue that whatever she's been told was wrong and she'll then terrorise a different colleague, send a request to the customer for unnecessary information and testing, then finally come to her own conclusion which, oddly enough, matches what we'd already told her. However, she'll insist that we told her something different and will steadfastly refuse to put us on ticket as having assisted, yet another metric by which we are judged.

No one says anything about this. She's protected. A high manager in our department is also from the same former Soviet-bloc country. I found this out in a Root Cause-17 manner:

I'm the only monkey in all of EMEA who works with Eastern Asian languages (Chinese/Japanese/Korean, or as they're known, "CJK"). This ability, along with specialised knowledge in OS, database raw data and font handling, gives me quite a few easy tickets in addition to a lot of stinkers because no one wants to even look at a Japanese version of Windows despite the damned icons all being the same, as are the Control Panel and Admin program names. Although she was once an MCSE (I have no idea...), she is incapable of pressing the pretty buttons or hitting WinKey+R and calling up the Services control panel.

So I was astonished when I went back to the queue to take a fairly simple problem from $BigChineseCorp that I could resolve in about 5 minutes with a quick test and found it had disappeared. Had one of our Singaporean colleagues taken it? Maybe someone in India? An insomniac in our California office perhaps?

I ran a quick search and found the ticket. In the owner field was "RIPA". I turned to my mate and said, "She took a ticket she can't even work on! It requires knowledge in so many areas in which she's never worked that it's pointless, and I'll be damned if she's going to pad her quarterly numbers by cutting and pasting my E-Mail responses."

As I said this, LookOut flagged me that there was a new message in my Inbox. Oh joy. My friend smiled and said, "You wanna bet?"

That was a foolish €10.

Vera, a high-level manager, is from the same country as Ripa. The two of them are clearly friends and though it had dawned on me that Vera was the reason for Ripa's continued employment, I equally expected that following the proper chain of command (and doing so both respectfully and discreetly) would have results.

Results I got, but not the ones I'd expected.

Rather than whinge to my direct, lower-level manager yet again about Ripa, I went to Vera's office and closed the door. Looking back, it wasn't one of my brightest ideas but at the time... well, y'all without sin can cast the first stone.

"Vera? Can I talk to you for a minute?"
"Sure. Come on in."
"It's about Ripa."

Only in the aftermath do I remember Ver's eyes narrowing. I calmly explained that Ripa had once again taken a ticket she couldn't possibly work on, much less answer. The ticket required being able to read and enter Chinese characters. It required working knowledge of two Unicode systems. It required technical knowledge of fonts. It required knowledge in almost every aspect of computing in which Ripa was lacking.

Apparently what the ticket really required was me teaching Ripa how to speak Chinese and Japanese along with everything I've learned about code handling over the past 20-some years.

Vera exploded.

I was accused of damned near everything other than sexual harassment: refusal to assist colleagues, inability to work in a professional manner, having a personal vendetta against Ripa, lack of motivation, inconsideration -- whatever she could possibly come up with as she ranted on.

During her tirade she said how she was sick of all these accusations against Ripa. As I defended myself against the accusation of having some vendetta I said that the fact that there were so many complaints from others backed up my own complaint.

What happened next made her initial explosion look like a firecracker. I finally realised I needed to STFU, put my tail between my legs and agree with whatever was being said. I was on official verbal reprimand. Any further "unprofessional behaviour" would result in a written reprimand. I was directed to assist my colleague in any and every way necessary and if teaching a bricklayer to do neurosurgery in 15 minutes was what it took, so be it.

I left Vera's office and went back to my cubicle, handing Jimmy the tenner. I hit control-R in LokOut and started writing the answer which Ripa cut and pasted into her response to the COOOstomer.

Vera played "telephone", sending me customer responses and sending my replies back. It took a week and a half to finish the ticket instead of an hour or two. Ripa again refused to put my name in the "Assisted By" field.

The my-head-shaped dent in front of my keyboard continues to grow.

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Anonymous Anonymous pulled out a crayon and scribbled:

He's right - we should have done this years ago - with both of 'them ladies'

The insider who knows what he's talking about.

15 May, 2006 20:03  

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In compliance with $MegaCorp's general policies as well as my desire to
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The views expressed on this blog are my own and
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single one of my cow-orkers who has discovered this blog agrees with me
and would also like to see the implementation of Root Cause: 17-Fuckwit.