Needed Cash Quick
Leaving a toxic work environment is always an exhilarating feeling. No more tiresome workdays, no more horrible bosses, and no more headaches. Some employees leave quietly, and some leave with a big bang. This is where the story begins. These three employees made sure they got the last laugh when they left this company. Names had been changed.
“Preston,” a young college dropout was at the start of his software engineering career. He had just been let go of his previous employment and therefore was needing another source of income. Still inexperienced, he had been working jobs lower than his cost of living. At the time, he was living in the Los Angeles area, living paycheck to paycheck to afford basic needs. There weren’t many job offers he had had to choose between, the only choice he had was which bill was going to be late that month.
He needed a job as soon as possible. So, he started to post his resume to all job boards. After a while, he finally received a call from a start-up company that seemed to be interested in his resume and wanted to have a face-to-face interview. He thought, ‘Desperate times call for desperate measures.’
He agreed to the interview and was given their location. When he realized it was going to take him almost an hour to get to the job and that was without traffic (it was two hours with traffic), he became hesitant but then he thought this was not the time to be choosy. He had no other job offers.
The day of the interview came and he just pulled into the parking lot. He couldn’t help but notice how empty it was. This parking lot could easily hold up to fifty vehicles yet he only saw seven cars, including his own. As soon as he reached the door, he called the phone number he was given to let them know he arrived. And here he met “Bill.” Bill was the Hiring Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and would essentially be Preston’s boss. As they made their way through the building to his office space, Preston did not see or hear anyone else. It seemed like they were the only two in the building. The interview was conducted in Bill’s office. Bill gave him the pitch of the company, told him he was the one that built the software being sold, but it was scalable, and ultimately he needed someone who could rewrite it. Bill continued asking the common interview questions, Preston answered them. By the end of the interview, Bill offered him the job.
Preston’s first thought was concerning the salary. He would be making more than his previous gigs so he figured maybe the commute would be worth it. Again, an hour to work with no traffic and two hours with traffic.
He agreed and they shook hands. His first day would start next Monday. Preston thought everything was coming together, but little did he knew.
Here Came The Red Flags
Unfortunately, he thought too quickly. On his first day, he started to notice the red flags.
The first red flag was his small workspace. It consisted of the 14×14 foot office space he had to share with his boss, Bill, and another engineer who was starting the following Monday. Preston was not a fan of having someone looking over his shoulder at any given time or micromanaging him. It made him felt unease. However, he dismissed it and went to meet the CEO, “Kyle,” the one IT person, “Ethan,” and the sales support team. That was the whole team. He was told half the team was still supporting the existing version of the application, two people were still selling the existing version to new clients (or in better words, were trying to), and at least one person was explicitly tasked with selling the new version. The new version that Preston hasn’t started on yet. And that was another red flag.
Preston thought I may be young and dumb, but that means that one person is probably giving out a date when the customer should expect their purchase to be filled.
Then his thoughts got interpreted when Bill said, “It’s a good thing you started when we did, we’ve been telling customers it’ll be ready in June.”
This was when Preston started doing the math, he just started in February and his whole job was to rewrite, test, and package an entire application he had never seen before in approximately four months?!
The meet and greet ended there, and he went straight to work. Well at least tried, he had to jump through a bunch of hoops to get his preferred software downloaded onto his actual work machine, as well as the code. He had never seen a code so horrific before, and yet there was not a single comment in the entire thing to further explain. Another red flag.
When he questioned Bill, Bill shrugged him off. He told Preston he was headed to downtown Los Angeles to scalp his tickets to the Laker’s game, and his question could wait until tomorrow. He left Preston behind along with this abomination of a code and the only thing that consoled him was the fact he was at least employed again.
Fast-forward a week, Preston was able to document the bulk of the code (because there wasn’t any) which was a good sign. What wasn’t a good sign was that he and Bill weren’t getting along. They were getting fed up with each other; Bill was frustrated because Preston hadn’t written any substantial code yet and Preston was frustrated because he was not understanding the specific code used by the company but before he could ask any questions Bill was never there. He was either off selling his Laker’s tickets or away from his desk, chatting with someone else. And when he was at his desk, he wasn’t much help. Preston would leave the conversation with more questions.
By the end of the week, Preston was exhausted but still was able to get thirty percent of the project in document form. That was a huge accomplishment since he started with nothing. He was not going to let the new engineer come in that Monday with the same mumbo jumbo he was put through.
Preston started the habit of leaving after sunset every day for three main reasons: first, he was able to get more work done, traffic wasn’t as bad, and also his car wouldn’t feel like an oven at that time of day. It seemed like every day was a hassle to convince Bill that Preston was essential to the team. He was hoping with all his efforts and with the new engineer coming in, they would make of a more efficient team.
Monday arrived and so did the new engineer. Preston liked to refer to him as “Bobby Bro.” He was a more experienced engineer and was able to teach Preston of best practices, standards, and where his plans were good and where they could be better. He was even able to answer questions Bill never did. Over the next weeks, Preston felt more confident in his work and their progress. If Bobby Bro wasn’t there, Preston would have gone insane! He didn’t smoke, but he would still join Bobby Bro outside for smoke breaks. That was where they became friends with Ethan, the one IT person.
Over time, the three guys became closer friends due to working overtime every day. The team left after sunset and worked more than 12 hours each day. Everyone was working their tails off except for their boss, Bill. And this was his code!
He Lost It
As April rolled up, so did Preston’s special occasion. He told Bill about that special occasion on the day of the interview and Bill was cool about him having that day off. As that date was getting closer, Preston reminded Bill about it. He thought, ‘No big deal,’ but Bill lost it.
He went off on a rant. He started shouting things to Preston about how he regretted hiring him, he didn’t have any skills and wasn’t worth what he was getting paid. He even mentioned instead of the June deadline, the company had to push the deadline to August because the engineers hadn’t finished the newest version yet.
Preston wanted to fire back to him but he remained calm and told him, “Bill, if you put in the same amount of work to help us as we put in to rewrite your code, we would probably be a lot closer to done than we are now, especially given the twelve-hour workdays.”
Bill was not a fan of that. He started pointing fingers and blaming them for the lost sales and refunds due to the delays, and that the only way he’d get off our backs was when the project was done. He went on and on. Preston thought at some point Bobby Bro was going to say something and have his back but nothing. He just sat there and said nothing.
Bill eventually left. Preston couldn’t stand being there any longer so he took his hour lunch break. He felt frustrated by Bill and betrayed by Bobby Bro, who he felt should have had his back since they were in the same boat.
When everyone was back in the officer, Bill eventually apologized for yelling and told Preston he could have the day off for his special occasion. Preston thought maybe Bill would change from that incident but he was wrong.
Rollercoaster Of Emotions
It was June and Bill had been getting worse and worse. He was yelling every day about something new but still left early every day. Everyone was feeling the wrath. It had gotten to the point where Bobby Bro, Preston, and Ethan couldn’t focus on their jobs until Bill left.
On the first Monday in June, Preston noticed Bill didn’t leave early. Oddly, Bill went over to him and invited Preston on a walk outside for a one-on-one meeting. At that second, Preston thought the day had finally come, he was getting fired. When they were outside, Bill informed Preston that the crew was sixty percent done with the project but not nearly enough time for the August release date and the company hired a third engineer.
Preston thought, ‘Yay! More help!’
Then Bill proceeded to say in order to stay in the budget plan to pay the new guy, the company would be cutting Preston’s salary in half. Preston’s face went blank and stood still.
Preston asked, “Are you serious, Bill? I’m barely able to pay for my bills and the gas required to commute here as it is. If you cut my salary at all, I won’t be able to afford to live.”
Bill shrugged his shoulders and said, “That’s not my problem. It’s the fact you missed one deadline, and it looks like you’re going to miss another. If you’ve got a problem with that, you’re more than welcome to go find another job. The new guy starts in two weeks.”
Then walked inside the building, Preston was left behind with his thoughts.
He thought ‘He might as well had fired me because in two weeks I going back to being broke.’ He knew what he had to do next. So that day he did something he hadn’t done since he first started. He left work on time instead of staying late like usual. He went straight home (well, after the two-hour Los Angeles traffic) and updated his resume before reactivating his accounts on all the job sites.
Surprisingly, he was contacted the next day by a potential new employer and got an interview scheduled. He decided to tell Bobby Bro about the new opportunity and to Preston’s surprise, Bobby Bro told him news that let him know just how small the world we lived in.
The next day came and Preston and Bobby Bro were the only two in the office.
Preston leaned over and said, “Hey, Bobby Bro, just an FYI, I’ve started looking for a new job. I’ve already got an interview lined up.”
Bobby Bro replied, “Really? Where?”
Preston said, “Over at -“
Bobby Bro said with excitement, “Wow! That’s where I worked before I came here! That place is pretty awesome, and I left there on pretty good terms. I know the CTO there, go ahead and use me as a reference!”
Preston was skeptical but said, “Really? Okay.”
It turned out Bobby Bro was true to his word. When the day of the interview came, Preston mentioned Bobby Bro’s name to the CTO and he said he already spoken with Bobby Bro about him. Bobby Bro had been the ultimate hype man, confirmed everything Preston had said about why he was looking for a new job and everything. The rest of the interview went well and Preston was offered the job that Friday afternoon. This new job would have his commute cut by more than half and came with a pretty significant raise.
That Friday afternoon, Preston told Bobby Bro and Ethan on their smoke break that today was his last day and he got a new job. Oddly enough, they both smiled and wished him good luck.
Before Preston left, he said, “No hard feelings, hope we stay in touch!”
At that point, Preston couldn’t care less about the job or the company. He went back inside, packed up his stuff, and walked to the CEO’s office.
He knocked on the door and asked, “Hey Kyle, got a minute?”
Kyle said, “Hey! What’s up?”
Preston said, “Just wanted to let you know I found a new job, so I’m moving on.”
Kyle responded, “Really, why? We need you!”
Preston explained, “You guys decided it was cool to cut my salary to a point where I couldn’t afford to live. Bill said if I didn’t like it, I should look for something new, so I did.”
Kyle, looking defeated said, “Well, when’s your last day?”
Preston gladly said, “Today.”
Kyle, now angry said, “We need you here to train the new guy who starts soon!”
Preston responded, “Hey, I had to train myself and to an extent, Bobby Bro when he first started. The new guy should be able to as well.”
And with that, he left for greener pastures.
He thought that was the last he would hear from the company, but then one day he got an unexpected phone call.
Revenge At Its Finest
Four months later, Bobby Bro texted Preston to ask how things were going. Preston told him things were great and he meant it. They scheduled a lunchtime call because apparently, things had gone sideways in a huge way since he left. After the phone call, Preston had no regrets about leaving the way he did.
Bobby Bro said Bill came in on that Monday almost violently angry after he found out that Preston quit. He demanded Ethan to erase everything left on Preston’s work machine. Bobby Bro came in an hour later and was discussing with Bill the new timeline for the project. Somewhere in there, Bobby Bro asked Bill to log into the admin account on Preston’s work machine so he could pull the documents Preston had accumulated about the planned architecture, the existing code, meeting notes, etc. Bill turned around and punched a hole in the wall. He walked out and left for the day. It was 10:30 in the morning, so that meant Bobby Bro was left behind working on recreating the documentations from scratch.
When Preston asked how the new guy handled the new documentation, Bobby Bro laughed and told him there never was any documentation. Apparently, Bobby Bro and Ethan had become close friends since he left and they decided to start a freelance/consulting business together. They only had to decide on when to make that their full-time jobs. Neither of them liked Bill either and wanted to make their departure hurt as much as possible.
They decided to make Bobby Bro’s last day the day before the new guy started, and Ethan would quit shortly afterward. Ethan wanted to stick around just long enough to watch the bomb go off. So on that Monday, Bobby Bro was a no-show. He didn’t let anyone know he was quitting but instead emailed that ‘documentation’ he’d spent a week writing to Bill. Turned out he wasn’t documenting the code at all. He’d spent a week writing a letter explaining in excruciating detail why Bill was such a bad boss, and he emailed it to everyone in the company.
Before Ethan had also quit, he made sure the new guy’s email was set up so the first email the new guy read was Bobby Bro’s email. Apparently, the new guy was able to read a portion of how terrible the company, the bosses, and his job were. Then Bill came to his desk and aggressively pushed him aside and delete the email. However, the new guy saw enough of it to quit on the spot.
With no engineers, the August deadline was now little more than a dream within a dream, which according to Ethan didn’t stop Bill and Kyle from trying to find that miracle rock star engineer who could save them from their own situation. Fast-forward to August and now the customers were infuriated they’ve paid for something that hadn’t been delivered yet, and pretty much unanimously demanded refunds, with a few customers brought legal action against them. With the amount they had to refund and the money they now needed for legal fees, they could no longer afford to pay anyone and were forced to go out of business.
With the help of Bobby Bro and Ethan, Preston’s toxic bosses got what they deserved and their company. Teamwork does make the dream work even when it’s revenge.