People in Suburbia

Crazy Camo Guy and the Pointy-Haired Boss

Posted on: December 18, 2009

My first programming job was a completely surreal experience. It was a small company of around 100 or so people. The company CEO was absolutely petulant, the pointy-haired boss type: extremely vulgar, 50ish with whitening hair, fake orange tan, knew absolute squat about software but only headed the company because he inherited it from daddy. I’d hear him all the time swearing at people, making snide and hateful comments about the people in tech support.

For a big demo, the dev team was asked to work miracles: he gave us six weeks to design, build, and test a prototype of CRM software from scratch. No requirements, “you don’t need requirements if you’re using Agile or what’cha-callit“, he just wanted us to copy a competitor’s product feature-for-feature. We told him the timeline was impossible, he said do it anyway, even if it meant working until 8 or 9 PM every night. I stated that I would not work without compensation, namely a tremendous amount of overtime. “Just work for free!” Absolutely not, I said. “Well if you aren’t here at 8 PM tonight, were will you be at 8 AM tomorrow” — I take that comment as a thinly veiled threat to be fired.

One of my coworkers was a few straws short of a bundle:  in his Southern, slightly cajun drawl, he basically said whatever was on his mind completely unfiltered. He was a gearhead, liked working on cars, even offered to tear my car’s engine apart and build me a hotrod. He was former military, frequently came to work in full camo gear, steel-toed boots, etc. This was a point of contention between Camo Guy and the Pointy-Haired Boss:

“No, no, no, go home and change right now.”
“Why, are you afraid someone’s gonna see me? Who’s gonna see me.”
“I don’t even want to hear it. You can either go home and change, or you can go home and not come back.”
“Go home? I can’t go home, I got WORK TO DO. Workin’ for a livin’, livin’ and a-workin'”
“Fine, whatever, do your damn job.”
“I’m takin’ what they’re givin’ ’cause I’m workin’ for a livin’!”

Two guys, two stubborn and inflated egos. This was a daily thing.

One day, Pointy-Haired Boss was overhead screaming and swearing at the top of his lungs to one of the women in accounting. Apparently, an accounting error was corrected, and we went from being $50,000 under budget to $5,000 in a hole. He got into this woman’s face and screamed to the point that she broke down in tears. Crazy Camo Guy stepped in:

“What the hell is going on here?!”
“None of you’re goddamn business.”
[To the accountant] “Ma’am, what’s your name? Laura?”
“Will you please get out of here.”
[To the boss] “NO! NO! NO! YOU DON’T TALK TO EMPLOYEES LIKE THAT! You don’t talk to Laura like that, SHE’S MY FRIEND!”
“What are you gonna do about it?”
“Let’s go outside and I’ll show you what I’ll do about it.”

Someone from marketing breaks the two guys apart before fists start flying. Crazy Camo guy put in a one-week notice that same day. Pointy-Haired Boss: “good riddance, we don’t want you here.”

Camo Guy happened to be a member of the local Renaissance Faire. On his last day of work, we rolled in a real cannon, aimed directly at the PHB’s office. Boss shows up to work, sees the cannot, shakes his head and swears loudly at everyone within earshot. That cannon sat there for entire day.

Last I’d heard, Crazy Camo guy got a job clerking at a bait and tackle shop. Says he couldn’t be happier.

My tenure at the company was 15 months. The boss never once learned my name.


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