Wednesday, December 15, 2004

December 1 - again

Someday, I'll finish telling you what happened on December 1.

"You'll regret it," Landon snarls at me, as he turns and storms out of my office.

"Bonnie, get security on the phone," I shout into my receiver.

"Already done. They want to speak to you! I'm putting them through." she says. Bonnie is awesome.

My phone rings. I pick it up.

"I understand you've got an employee causing you some problems?" A man says.

"He's headed downstairs now," I say. "He's probably going to his office on the first floor."

"Ok, my name is Jared. Can you come down and meet me on the first floor?"

"One of our managers is on his way down now. His name is Dom. I'll be along in a minute."

I dial Dom's cell. "Hello?" he says, out of breath.

"Dom! Where are you?"

"Running downstairs. I don't hear him behind me, so he must have gotten on the elevator."

"Ok, meet Jared from security on the first floor. I'll be right down."

I run past Bonnie's desk. "Dan Johnson is on the phone for you," she says.

"Tell him I'm all tied up!"

I fling open the door to the stairwell and scurry down nine flights of stairs.

"Ah don' giva fuck WHAT you need to do," Landon is yelling at Jared, "Ahm OUTTA here!"

He turns and walks the rest of the way out of the building. Dom, Jared, and I watch him go.

"Should I alert the police?" Jared asks.

"No. Let's get his office cleaned up," I say, looking at Dom.

The two of us stride down a quiet hallway to Landon's office, and open the door.

It's nondescript, really, just four empty walls and a six-foot wooden table with a flat-screen monitor and a couple of 4 X 6 snapshots of horses resting on it. The keyboard rests on the table, in front of the monitor, and it strikes me as very odd that Landon didn't even have a computer desk with a keyboard tray.

There's an HTML reference book resting on a two-drawer file cabinet. We open the two drawers. Empty.

"Where's all his stuff?" Dom says.

"I don't know!" I say.

My cell phone goes off.

"This is Steve."

It's Dan Johnson. He's laughing hysterically.

"Steve! Ste-he-he-heeeeeve!" he roars.


"Steve, what have you learned today?"

"I've learned that I need a new programmer."

"I heard! And I couldn't be more delighted!" He says.

"You HEARD? ALREADY? I fired him 15 minutes ago!"

"I've known for five minutes, too!" he says.

"How did you find out?"

"I have my sources."

"I'll keep that in mind."

"Steve, I'm sending Ralph up there today. There are a lot of things you need to do to... protect the company's assets."

"From Landon?"

"Yes. We think he's got the capability to hack into your network there. And ours."

"Ok, we'll give him our undivided attention when he gets here."

"No, you'll give it to him NOW," Dan says. "Get your guy Chris on the phone with Ralph right away. There are some things that need to be done this minute."

"Dom, run upstairs and tell Chris to call Ralph at corporate. They think Landon had some back doors into the system."

Dom takes off.

"Steve, it's gonna be tough to replace Landon. He was a good one. But he was also a flaming prick. No one liked him at all. Still, it took a lot of balls to fire him. I WISH I could have seen the look on his face! I'm very proud of you, Steve."

"Dan, I appreciate it, but you know, it was actually pretty easy. He threw my-"

"Your paperweight?"

"No, it was a pen-and-pencil holder. Your source let you down, Dan."

"Steve, it wasn't easy. He's been pulling shit like that for years. I'm glad you got rid of him. Just make sure his projects get handed off."

"I will."

"And make sure your people close those back doors! Work with Ralph!"

"We will."

I get back to my office, and Mary from HR is standing by Bonnie's desk, waiting for me.

"Steve. We need to talk," she says sternly. She reminds me of a ruler-wielding nun at a Catholic school.

"We've got a lot of work to do," I say.

Suffice to say, Mary is pissed. Landon has never been written up for any infraction. None of his uncooperative and disruptive behavior was ever documented. His file is clean, and he got good reviews.

"He could sue us for wrongful termination!" Mary exclaims. "Not to mention, we can forget about disputing his claim for benefits."

"He's not under contract. This is an employment-at-will state. What the hell is he gonna sue us for?" I ask.

"You'd be surprised. Without documentation, he can claim whatever he wants!"

Mary spends a long time milking me for examples of Landon's escpades. She meticulously documents every detail.

I love the HR folks dearly, I really do. But is there a more uptight group of people in business?

"They are just trying to protect you from being sued or getting sanctioned by the government," you say.

PLENTY of people can get us sued. PLENTY of people can get us fined. Just about anyone can, actually. One late tax deposit can cost us $10,000 in IRS penalties, and you don't see the accounting people walking around with their worry-faces on all the time, do you?


Monday, December 6, 2004.

Chris and Ralph have been working for days to lock down our network and analyze the status of Landon's projects.

"It's the funniest thing about Landon's scheduler," Ralph says. "He built it as a web app, so the folks at the call center could all access it easily."

"So?" I say.

"Well, he built it using MySQL, and he had all the telemarketing people keying contact information into it. Eight or nine people were keying at the same time and it crashed."

"What information did he have them keying?"

"Everything. It was a blank database."

"WHAT?!" I say. "We paid a shitload of money for that prospect database. We already HAD that data! We could've dumped a file out of there and imported it into his database easily! PLUS, we don't pay those guys to key; we pay them to make phone calls!"

"I know. It only would've taken him an hour or so to build a routine to do that, IF he knew what he was doing, which he appeared to. It's a nice app, he just didn't go the extra mile."

It makes you wonder how much time and money he's wasted for us over the last twenty years.