This true story, told (almost) entirely via my outbound email, spanned a few months.
ADMIN was hired to replicate the functions of DECEASED around the same time, before it happened.
It helps to understand that previous conversations of any magnitude were typically held in person, over a beer. Not over the Internet.
Part 01: abated hours.
I don't want to be working this much, believe me. At 40 hours, I am already two weeks behind.
Your facilities/requirements are not as uncomplicated as they were upon my hire.
I would be unable to properly maintain your facilities at 30 hours. Two of the admin laptops are down. They require motherboard frankensurgery. They have a lower priority. Staff requests/troubles keep getting put off for the same reason.
The new servers have to be ready ASAP. Imminent collapse; constant headache. I have been working with a OS guy who has been kindly donating his time, so far.
I can do one or the other but not both. We need to sit down and set priorities on how to accomplish them.
Part 02: job declarations.
I am honored to have the schedule I do as it affords me the unique opportunity to raise my child. However, I am on call 24 hours a day. I am always running things through my mind. I will stop in the middle of my personal time to jot something down I need to fix, an attempted solution, or go in and fix an immediate problem. I deal with simple issues constantly alongside my more complicated evening work. The system has grown immensely since I first started. I require, consistently, 35 hours a week just to maintain the abundant facilities. That leaves no time for improvements or surprises.
I have been submitting accurate time sheets to DECEASED for years now.
Getting BRAND Apps has saved money by me not having to keep the derelict SERVICE running. It has, however, spawned the expected rash of "Help me! It's different." emails, that are quickly dying down, as staff realize it's better.
Since BRAND, we have added 10 new Netbooks with the newest OS version that behaves far differently than our time-honored VER. I have had to crash-course in OS VER just to make it work with our system. Any new computers we acquire will have OS VER on them, so this was a necessary step.
The Laptops that continue dying, which consumed an immense portion of my restricted time, are no longer a pertinent issue because of those newly procured Netbooks.
The Servers are ancient and not long for this world, as well as growing incessantly more incompatible with newer computers and software. I had been setting up replacements. Turns out, upon further consideration, there are better qualified folks for this task. Given that the old Servers should now see out the year, I have halted progress.
I am not a POSITION, nor am I a POSITION. Hourly is not how my job goes. Perhaps it is time to reevaluate. A static income would provide you with a consistent cost for my services, with limited surprises. I work as I work, sometimes more, occasionally less, but always. It balances out in the end.
Typical work-week Tasks: Staff assists, upgrades, server backwards compatibility, spam, dying laptops, security, firewall. SOFTWARE, SOFTWARE, SOFTWARE. SOFTWARE, SOFTWARE, SOFTWARE, SOFTWARE. BRAND Business Apps. New software troubles, old software incompatibility patches. Change passwords, add/remove accounts from multiple systems. Lost files, backups, synchronization, file replication. Monitor/clear user-error logs, desktop error logs, server activity/error logs, web logs, security logs, user activity logs. New software, upgraded software, replace software, antivirus. Misdirected email, implementing/disabling/testing new BRAND Business features. Printers, scanners, cameras, fax, multi-function devices, speakers, microphones, headsets. Administrative emails from software providers: patches, upgrades, deprications, workarounds, solicitations. Clean out dusty computers, replace parts, un/plug cables that are bunched/crunched behind computers. Replace dysfunctional peripherals, power down TVs, monitors, printers, scanners, speakers that were all left on overnight.
Some Tasks take two minutes, some two or more hours. Time becomes determinable only upon proper assessment.
Typical support process: Receive vague email from office member. Request clarification from user. Wait days. No reply. Investigate. Find nothing. Request again. Receive vaguely better explanation. Fix. Request resolved? No reply.
There are ### computers to tend to in varying states of disrepair with four OS user-operating versions. ## domain/file OS servers. Three flavors of OS with one more enterprise-grade on the way. Mobile devices: BRAND, BRAND, BRAND, BRAND, BRAND. Three domain-wide email/calendar/document cloud communication systems, four websites, one SERVICE system with three separate components, two SERVICE programs, twelve years of archives, and countless acronym-ed protocols that were learned to make this all work together with a respectable up-time, considering.
Part 03: gratuitous overtime.
Let me begin by expressing my most heartfelt respect for you and DECEASED. I am honored to have worked alongside the two of you for so long. I appreciate your understanding of my quirks in the same way I have come to understand and respect yours. I am glad to have found employers that allow me to work as I do, especially given how unconventional I am. You have both become second parents to me and I hope it to continue for years to come. Now, to business.
This time of year is always extremely busy for me. My timesheets have ranged into the 90s of hours in past SEASON. Change always comes quickly before the new SEASON. I embrace this season, it is a challenge and nothing if but interesting. You have trusted my methods for almost a decade. I have kept the heart of your system running on impossibly low tech for longer than feasable.
I understand and respect the restraints you have placed upon my hours given present economic woes. Much of my time is spent maintaining the archaic infrastructure. Which is why I championed for the switch to OS. It is free, it is scalable, it is infinitely adaptable. But, that's not what this letter is about...
Quite simply, I did not get paid for additional work that I sought proper permission to go above and beyond to do. At the time I garnered the go-ahead, DECEASED was still, to my knowledge, officially positioned to make that call. I do not want more vacation. This is not the ideal time for your techie to be on the beach, so to speak. I have already gone out and spent the money I was expecting on non-refundable home improvement supplies. My house looks refreshed, but my bank account is in the red.
Part 04: preposterous proposal.
So that you don't think me lazy or inept... I provided, precisely, a $100 (time and hardware) waiting room Wi-Fi solution for LOCATION, as you requested. Below, I explain what you received for such a price, the hassles encountered in the process, followed up by further requirements for actual project completion.
One (cheap) $55 Wi-Fi router [Device] afforded me CONFIDENTIAL time for Device research, installation, configuration. The computer from which Device was to be initially configured (they will be inexorably tethered together for the foreseeable future, as we have limited ethernet cable pulls that can handle that kind of traffic [I did a quick assessment: one hour minimum to pull a dedicated wire, if all goes smoothly, it never does]) requires OS VER UPGRADE just to be capable of running the Setup CD (I have little intention ever to devote an hour to that particular UPGRADE which consistently manifests latent troubles, as said computer presently works, despite its obsolescence). I instead went through the standard web interface to configure Device. Turns out, Device gets confused if its initial configuration isn't provided by the Setup CD (BRAND never considered the possibility someone might attempt 'manual' configuration). Had to hard-reset Device after it crashed. Found a computer updated enough to run Setup CD, relocated Device, replugged half a dozen wires to move/return it, configured. Spent a few minutes patching some of the more obvious security holes inputted by the automated configuration of Device. Time up. The good news is that waiting room guests can check their SOCIAL MEDIA, for now.
Further effort required for 'proper' installation:
Next time I have a spare hour (or more) to devote solely to Wi-Fi at LOCATION, the most dire aforementioned issues will be addressed. Assured.
ps. Rant Below drafted prior to Above. It became the inspiration for Above. I figure it deserves to be included here as well. I was attempting to explain, as intelligibly as I could manage, how dire the tech situation at BIZ is to the person who, as I understand it, is my only shot at doing something about my never-ending nightmare...
The cause of my hours being so numerous is that I am surrounded by garbage tech. Everything is the lowest-end model, refurbished, clearance, crap. Every last piece of tech is old, grumpy and has little will left to live. If someone sneezes around the tech, it craps its figurative pants. Most of my time involves: workarounds to accomplish 'simple' tasks; finding some illogical means to keep everything compatible; downgrading to soft/firmware that is barely functional yet still configurable to suit the need. Unfortunately, I am very good at my job. I always gave DECEASED three choices when it came to new tech: the best, it's okay, and it'll do. It should be obvious the option always chosen. The conflagration that is BIZ tech has no reasonable right to exist. These are the only remaining models/versions of their ilk still actively functional in the 'civilized' world. Tech forums that you would expect to assist with our hard/software has largely archived it all as 'Legacy.' The setup is implausable and the execution inexplicable. It is by my sheer stubborn will alone that all of this crap, mostly, works.
Part 05: continuance proposal.
Availability: I have placed my child in day care such that I am available Tuesday and Thursday onsite at either LOCATION or LOCATION, unless otherwise previously arranged, for a duration of five or more hours, as needed. Given proper advanced notice (preferably one week) arrangements can be made to procure (with limited expense) a babysitter should my services be required on another weekday. Weekend and evening availability remain preferable as much of my work involves taking critical systems offline, to the detriment of staff productivity, for the duration of my efforts.
Hours: Given the existing hard/software in service at both buildings, a thirty-five hour work week has proven to be standard fare. With the move towards upgrades and infrastructure overhaul, I am optimistic that fewer hours shall be required for system maintenance. Much of my present hours are the result of dealing with inadequate and outdated tech. There would have to be temporal allowances given to accommodate the learning curve involved in the adjustment to new hard/software for a brief period. I have no doubt I can become an expert in short order.
Salary: An hourly employment thus far, given the broad scope of my responsibilities, has resulted in differing expectations with regards to my duties, obligations and availability. Excepting the aforementioned days, for which my sole purpose is the care of my child, my availability could be considered full-time should I be salaried. A salaried position would be of benefit to both parties as my expense would become a known, budget-able amount. Purview shall broaden in my duties, as the sole member of the Tech Department, once the hourly cost for previously considered "trivial" tasks become irrelevant. Regarding exact financial figures for a salaried position, to the satisfaction of all parties involved, I would request preliminary discussions be held prior to offering any numbers.
Emergencies: Emergency situations shall continue to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The term "Emergency" has different representations to different people during the heat of the moment. Many cases can be patched with a temporary workaround until such time as I can devote proper effort towards permanent remediation. Some tech issues can simply be put on hold for a few hours if they are not mission-critical. Other cases which can be regarded as true Emergencies I shall, as always, put forth my best effort to seek immediate resolution. I would ask that financial considerations be heeded for the occasional Major Emergency that results in far-beyond my typical hours.
Duties: Being that I have been the only member of the Tech Department, it is a fair assumption that my duties are all-encompassing. A complete listing of the week to week activities my position had previously required was provided a few months ago. Given the unforseeable changes that outside consultation will present to the existing infrastructure, I am unable to speculate as to my forthcoming duties. I hope, however, they can be summarized by the following: "To continue to provide exceptional service with regards to the maintenance and growth of all technological aspects of BIZ and BIZ."
Part 06: the firing.
Phone conversation with BOSS:
Part 07: pity plea.
I figured now would be as good a time as any to inform you of my life, as it now stands. Yesterday's event was just the icing on the crap-cake.
ps. If you are unable to provide me a copy of the severance package, as we discussed, with time for deliberate review before Tuesday, I would prefer to reschedule our meeting for Thursday. Thank you.