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» Hello snopes.com » SLC Central » Rantidote » Bizarre work situation--opinions wanted

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Author Topic: Bizarre work situation--opinions wanted
CitizenAim
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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I don't post often. I mostly lurk around these forums reading and whenever someone posts something like this, most of you guys have some very rational and logical responses, so I figured I'd post this and hope I get opinions.

I work from home for a very small company of only 5 people. While 4 of us are in the same city here in SC, one of us is in FL. The company is top-heavy and has 2 real bosses and 1 senior software engineer who is sort of a boss to me. My other non-boss coworker just started working full time whereas I've been part-time for the past year and a half (I'm still in college, he just graduated). Anyway, we all communicate through an IRC channel and when not working, through an office e-mail mailing list.

Recently, I started having problems with my ISP and my Internet was getting shut down for hours daily. I explained this to my bosses but they didn't have a reaction to it so I assumed they understood what was going on and that I was trying to fix it. They have always been very laid back about these things because they are aware that I am still in college and they cut me a lot of slack for that. I finally did get things fixed with my ISP and was back on a normal schedule yesterday... but no one was there.

My coworker that isn't a boss is on his honeymoon, I know, but the other three should have been there. I sent an e-mail to our office mailing list but didn't get any response from any of them. I have nothing to work on at all aside from some software bugs they have assignmed which I am stuck on because I have questions for them (which I addressed in my e-mail). I sent my paycheck hours out to my boss that is in control of that with no response from him and no paycheck has come in the mail yet.

I decided to leave myself logged into my work's IRC channel, flagged as away so if anyone came on they'd know I wasn't just trying to reel in hours for nothing, and my boss (the senior software engineer one) showed up for only 10 seconds at a time in which he knew I was not working.

Again, today, I log into my work's IRC channel and no one is here. I have absolutely nothing to do.

The senior software engineer boss is normally around, unlike the other two bosses who really do come and go a lot of the time (since they have no employees to manage and no technical work to do) and the SSE is often overwhelmed because he has to manage two other employees while also doing plenty of work himself. It's not uncommon for him to lose track with what I am working on because he is so caught up in his own work, but again, he is normally around to field any questions I might have.

I have met each one of these people IRL (so it's not some weird scam job) and they are all reliable and have never been shady at all so it seems improbable to me that they'd be pulling something on me or trying to force me to quit without saying anything to me, but I'm a very paranoid person by nature and can't shake the feeling that something is very, very wrong. I can't just quit the job because I don't have anything lined up. I've been looking for a second job since it's summer but haven't came across anything yet.

Does this sound fishy and does anyone else have similar experiences?

ETA: I should mention that the coworker that is on the honeymoon is a real life friend of mine. We last talked last week before his wedding and when we talked about work, nothing he said made me think anything was up. He e-mailed me the day after to let me know he moved some of my files around on our development server to get something he was working on to work and he is higher up than me and is in closer contact with the SSE so he would USUALLY know if something were wrong.

Posts: 146 | From: Columbia, SC | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Can you try calling somebody? The kind of conversation you need to have is probably not best done through IRC or email. Face-to-face would be ideal, phone second best. Mention that you've had trouble connecting with them lately, that you've finished XYZ assignment and are wondering what they'd like you to tackle next. Approach it in as matter-of-fact a way as possible (fake it if you have to), as if it's never occurred to you that this is anything more than a communication breakdown. Either that's true, or it isn't, and if it isn't, your speaking them by phone or in person will make it harder for them to avoid the issue.

ETA: I have been in a situation that was similar in some respects, and I completely understand the feeling of paranoia you describe. It will only get worse the longer it continues.

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Richard W
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If there's an office that you can visit then you could pop along there too - but ringing somebody first definitely seems a good idea. If your email and connections have been unreliable then it's best to try a more direct means to contact them, even if the connection isn't the problem.
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Signora Del Drago
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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What Lainie said. A telephone call would be better than e-mails if you can't see somebody in person. I'd think since you've worked for these people for a year and a half, it's more than likely on the level. Could be there's another problem that doesn't reflect on you at all. Maybe they're about to go out of business because of money trouble, etc. Small companies often don't have the backing to survive much of a dry spell. It could also be that the fellow who is away has been the person who kept things going, and conditions might improve when he returns. You deserve to be told what the problem is. Good luck.

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CitizenAim
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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Posts: 146 | From: Columbia, SC | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
LolaRennt
The First USA Noel


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The indications are not good. I'd keep trying to contact someone and send the consistent message of "I'm concerned because I can't reach anyone. Until I can contact someone and verify that we are in business, I will hold off on my current assignments".

That math just doesn't add up - full time employees at that skill level wouldn't be content with a mere $25K a year, unless they were owners of a start up company. Is that the case?

Either way, I'd start looking for something else...

LR

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LikeHeyScoob
The First USA Noel


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The broken hand/forgotten paycheck excuse, in conjuction with your recent troubles and your description of the company's financial structure just reek (to me) of cash flow problems.

I'll echo Lola's suggestion to start looking for something else. Best of luck.

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AdmiralDinty
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Maybe your co-workers have been raptured. [fish]

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CitizenAim
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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Posts: 146 | From: Columbia, SC | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
laura 2
The First USA Noel


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I work for a company nearly as small as yours, with everyone working out of their homes and no physical office. You definately do feel kind of cast off on your own under even normal circumstances, though these certainly qualify as pretty abnormal ones.

To me, the symptons scream that the company is going under, and you are one of (if not the) last one to know. Sounds like you think so too - looking for a new job is a good move on your part.

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Cinnamon
The First USA Noel


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Definitely sounds fishy, whatever is going on. Good luck with the job search CitizenAim, and I hope you get some answers from your current employer eventually.

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Richard W
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Yes, I'm afraid that does sound a bit like they've gone bust...

The company I work for had one or two "late paycheque" incidents a couple of years ago (it's picked up again now). They're not likely to give you the real reason for something like that, it seems, even if it's clear to everybody what the problem must be.

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CitizenAim
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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Posts: 146 | From: Columbia, SC | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Mickey is a Hanukkah Bush
O Come Let Us Adore Sales


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Good idea. Start looking for a better paying job in a bigger company that can pay you on time!

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Mickey is a Hanukkah Bush
O Come Let Us Adore Sales


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Good idea. Start looking for a better paying job in a bigger company that can pay you on time!

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Signora Del Drago
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I'm glad you finally heard from somebody, but I vote with the other folks - look for another job. You don't need that stress.

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"This air we're breathing. Oxygen, isn't it?"~I’mNotDedalus, impersonating Vincent D’Onofrio.|"Sometimes trying to communicate can be like walking through a minefield."~wanderwoman
"Give people a break. It's not easy doing a life."~Joshua Halberstam

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Jocko's Jolly
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quote:
Originally posted by CitizenAim:
Got an update on this.

After sitting around doing nothing for an hour this morning, I heard from the SSE, Chris. He addresses two issues I sent e-mails out about. For the first one, he tries to shift blame and says, "Well I told STUART (another boss) to e-mail you about that since I have no idea what he wants you to do but we can just defer that assignment I guess." Secondly, explains another assignment I had been hung up on for DAYS which he was able to explain to me all I needed to know in ONE sentence that probably only took him 20 seconds to type.

I don't care if we're "falling under" anymore. If my bosses are going to take impromptu half-week breaks from work without preparing subordinates for it or even just TELLING people about it... I don't want to work for them.

OTOH, is it possible that there was an email sent around that you didn't get (and they forgot you weren't reachable through email) that said what everyone's schedules were? Soemthing along the lines of "Hey, Bob, I'll be out of the office this week for my honeymoon." "Oh, I'll be out for 3 days that week, too." "Hey, guys, just found out I'll be traveling these days," etc. I had something like that happen when I was out of the office once on bedrest with my first pregnancy. I called into the office but boss went to the parent company unexpectedly (in the Netherlands) and forgot to email or call me (cause, ya know, I was the person who reminded him of those things [Roll Eyes] ). His immediate contact at our US parent was out of town, as was his assistant. I spent probably two days calling and emailing around before I found him!

That said, I've also been in the company going under situation and yours sounds suspiciously like it. Keep looking for something else and if you're offered something, then you can decide what to do. Good luck!

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