Think of it as getting laid off in slow motion


It's not long after Y2k, and the big company where this IT pilot fish works has just been swallowed by an even larger competitor.

"We knew that our time was short," says fish. "But we didn't count on our one saving grace: Their system could only handle seven characters for an employee ID, and ours used eight. They never did figure out how to fix that.

"It was about eight years after we were acquired that they finally called us into the conference room and told us that our jobs had been outsourced. We could go to work for the outsourcer or quit."

To help fish and his cohorts make that decision, the outsourcing company brings in a dog-and-pony show to tell them how great working there is. There are the usual presentations, including testimonials by IT people from another division who were recently outsourced -- and, most important, a catered lunch.

And all 10 of fish's group of developers decide to be traded to the new team.

At the group's first orientation session as new employees, a manager from the outsourcer is explaining the new time sheets they will be using, when one of fish's co-workers -- who has a reputation for bluntness -- speaks up.

Will we have to falsify our time sheets like we had to with our old employer? he asks.

"The lady running the presentation gave him an icy stare and coldly stated that, at the outsourcer, "we do not falsify anything," fish says.

"We didn't understand her attitude -- until the session where we covered the company history, and learned that the outsourcer had been spun off from an accounting firm that collapsed after one of the biggest accounting scandals in history.

"It took them five more years to figure out how to shut us down and lay us all off."

Sharky doesn't falsify anything in these true tales of IT life either -- but I do my best to file off the identifying marks. So send me your stories at You'll get a stylish Shark shirt every time I use one. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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