Monday, May 23, 2005

...How Not to Use the Internet at Work

When my business partners and I decided to start up this company one of the first things we did was set up a working relationship with two of our former coworkers at our previous employer. The four of us all came from a sales background, while these two worked on the technical side, so it was a perfect arrangement. They could get their own fledgling company off the ground by doing the installation of the equipment we sold, while we could offer installation services even though it wasn't a skill any of us possessed ourselves.

At least that’s how it was supposed to work. After the first few months, Bill, who was the technical guru of the duo, either A) contracted facial paralysis B) Went nuts C) Moved to Rhode Island without telling anybody D) All of the Above or E) Some Combination of the above. That left us with only Jim, his partner, far less technically savvy than Bill, who was more of a “follow what the other guy tells you what to do”-type. Using him as a solo guy presented all sorts of problems, not the least of which being all of our jobs started getting screwed up because he really had no freaking idea what he was doing. There was also his semi-out-of-control temper and propensity for having a total meltdown anytime he discovered we had used any other installer but him for a project (despite the fact he was often unavailable to work according to our schedule), plus the fact he often tried to bill us the same two man rate he charged when he worked with Bill, even though he was clearly only one guy.

For the sake of the business we eventually had to stop using Jim altogether, replacing him with far more capable and qualified installers. But it wasn’t the last we ever heard from him.

I hope this doesn’t offend anybody, but when I meet someone who has reached middle age (loosely defined here as somewhere in your mid-40s) without ever having been married or started a family and whose career has never progressed passed the entry-level/ journeyman stage, I start to wonder about what has happened in this person's life to have gotten them to that position. Add in the fact Jim lived in a remote mobile home park way out in the boonies, had two heart attacks before the age of 44, was openly in the process of obtaining a Russian bride he had found over the Internet and you would be safe in assuming that Jim creeped me out a little bit.

During our early, more optimistic period when we were convinced our working relationship with Bill and Jim would be a long-term one, we got each of them an e-mail address with our companies domain name to make it easier for us to communicate with them and to make it less obvious to our customers who may have needed to contact them that they weren’t actually our employees. When we stopped using Jim for our installs, we shut down his email address and had all of his messages forwarded to one of us.

Turns out the guy was a total perv. We found out after we received the bill to renew his AdultFriendFinder membership. Curiosity got the better of us so we looked up his profile. He wasn’t one to mince words. He was looking for “dirty talk, erotic email or just plain old sex”.

He must still be sore at us for not using him for so long, because in a desperate need for more hands to help us tackle our ever-increasing project load, we called Jim not too long ago to see if he was available to assist one of our other installers on some upcoming jobs and he never called us back. Which sucks, because I was really interested to hear if he had ever found it.
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