Crappy Job

This is just one of MANY crappy jobs I've had over the years. This story is from June 1999:

I was supposed to go to Jacksonville Monday morning to do some network cabling.  I was told to report to the office between 7:30 and 8 am and another employee would be driving.  It was supposed to take all day Monday and half a day on Tuesday.  We were supposed to stay overnight and be back in Orlando Tuesday evening. I was at the office at 7:45 with my tools and overnight bag, ready to go.  I figured we would be on the road by 8-8:30, get up there in a couple of hours and get to work.

My partner did not show up until about 10:00am.  He was at the tire store all morning getting tires on his car.  When he got there, he had some things to do in the office.  Paperwork, run some reports, install some software on a computer and other miscellaneous tasks.  It was 12:30 or 1:00pm before we were ready to go.  But no.  The first thing he did was go to the credit union by the Jai Alai and do some drive-through banking.  He's not running his air conditioner and I'm sweating like a pig at a slaughterhouse.  Then we had to go back to the office because he forgot to drop off paperwork from a previous job.  We're now on 436 on our way to I-4 when smoke starts rolling from under his hood.  It's his cooling system.  Now I know why he's running his car heater on a June afternoon in Florida. There is also a monsoon-type rainstorm in progress.  I mean it is raining heavily.

We pull up to the water hose at the Mobil at Palm Springs and he gets out and starts running water on his hot engine.  Right about now, I know I've hooked up with a real winner, but I'm not saying a word because I need the job.  I'm also soaked to the bone now.  Instead of waiting for the engine to cool down and putting some water into it, he gets impatient and we take off down I-4. The customer in Jacksonville is expecting us around 10:00 am.  We passed the building where Charlotte works at 2:00 pm.  I look up at it and wonder what she's up to.

He gets off at the Sanford exit, SR 46 and drives around in circles for a few minutes looking for another gas station with a water hose.  We can't find one so it's back on the interstate and up to the next Sanford exit.  No water hose there either.  We drive back on I-4 in the other direction to 46 again looking for a gas station with a water hose.  Can't find a water hose but he stops at McDonald's for a fish sandwich, a Big Mac, Fries and a Coke.  I hate McDonald's so I don't get anything.

Next to McDonald's is a gas station with a water hose.  We put some water in the car.  It's still raining like hell.  While there, he notices a car pull up.  He goes over to it and gets in.  He knows the girl inside.  They talk, chat, and laugh for quite a while.  Then they start kissing and hugging.  This guy is hitting on a girl when we are supposed to be in Jacksonville working!

We finally leave Sanford at 3:00pm.  It's still raining.  This guy is driving like a bat out of hell.  The speedo only goes up to 90 but it's pegged because he knows we're radically late.  I'm pretty much scared shitless, but I'm trying to remain cool because I need the job.  He calls the customer and tells them we are on I-95 near Palm Coast and it's raining so we will be a little late.  He keeps the hammer down all the way.

He told me he narrowly escaped a severe accident over the weekend near Miami.  He said he lost control of his car on a freeway but gathered it up before it crashed. He said he would like to race cars for a living.  He's talking and blowing cigarette smoke in my face in a car with no air conditioner and the windows rolled almost all the way up.  After a while the conversation goes quiet.  As we approach the outskirts of Jacksonville, I feel the car lurch sickeningly to the left.  It's fell off the left shoulder.  I look over and he's got his head tilted back with his mouth wide open, eyes shut, snoring.  We're still doing about 70 mph.  I shout to wake him up and wonder if we're going to make it there alive.

The place is in North Jacksonville and we roll up about 5:00pm.  It's a laser eye surgery center.  The work order originally called for 14 network cables with terminations but now it's 19.  We copied a floor plan from one on the wall used to show fire escapes, talked to the office manager, and got clear about where all the terminations should go.  There is no possible way to delay this job because other contractors were coming in the next day to install the workstations and server.  We decide to work on it all night.  I didn't really have a problem with that, in fact, it was better to not contend with office staff and patients while working.  We can rip out the ceiling and get insulation all over the place without worry.  After unloading our tools and materials, we decide to get some Chinese food at Cheap Charlie's.

The rest of the night goes well.  We pull cable and put in our terminations with only two or three short breaks for coffee. The ceiling was full of insulation and I got it all over me when I would move a ceiling tile.  There was also some sort of mysterious dust in the ceiling.  Whenever you moved the insulation, it would kick up dust that would literally take your breath away.  You had to immediately come down out of the ceiling to breathe again.  Later you could feel the dust settle in the back of your throat.  Hours and hours go by, soon the sun comes up, and people start coming in to the office.  Doctors, nurses, office staff.  By now, I'm beat and stinking from hours of sweat.

At this point we still had a lot of work to do.  We had to label each termination on all the wall plates, test each circuit for continuity, finish the patch panel, and generally tidy up.  The guy I'm working with likes to talk on the phone -- a lot.  So all night he's making long distance calls on the customer's phone. Talking to girls, friends, and anyone he can get hold of.  As we are finishing up the job, another round of telephone calls begin.  It's about 2:30-3:00 p.m. before we're done.

At this point, I know I'm not going to get home Tuesday evening as originally planned.  I learn that instead of one more job now there are two!  We have to go to some office building, identify cables and put in a patch panel.  It's the corporate offices of one of North Florida's largest funeral homes.  We go to the job site and this guy is pissed because he was told we would be there about noon.  It's now 4:30 p.m.  I have had no breakfast, no lunch, and no sleep for 35 hours.  As soon as all the office workers leave for the day, my so-called supervisor begins another round of long distance telephone calls.  During one call our office sets us up with a room at a nearby La Quinta Inn.  I'm working while he's talking and poking into private documents on people's desktop PC's.  This would be an easy job but we're missing a patch panel.  It looks like we cannot finish the job while we are there.  We will have to come back.  The pissed guy will be even more pissed.

We leave to go assess the other job, driving at 80 to 90mph, of course.  It's the satellite office to the other eye clinic.  Unfortunately, we are almost out of materials.  We telephone the office manager who comes over and shows us what needs to be done.  I'm hoping my partner does not decide to perform another overnighter because by now my back, legs and arms really hurt.  After much discussion, we decide to start the job the next day.  The next day is looking like: get up, go get parts and materials, finish the job at the funeral director's office building and dash over to do the other eye clinic.  We bring in some tools, materials, and then leave for our room.  Given what I've learned so far, it starts to look like I'm not going to be home Wednesday either.

We pull up to the La Quinta Inn and go inside.  My partner tells them who we are. The lady at the front desk says she's been expecting us because we have a reservation.  He signs a piece of paper and she presents a bill.  At this point, I am speechless.  Our office took the time to make a reservation but did not give them a credit card number.  Of course, the first thing that went through my mind was maybe our office wants one of us to pay for the room. I'm sitting there, silent, while my partner calls the office.  He hands the telephone to the girl behind the desk who talks to our office.  It was here that all the things I had seen and heard over the past few days coalesced into a decision to quit this company. I figured no job was worth this.  It was here; in addition, I saw a way to escape.

While my partner parked the car, I went up stairs and immediately got into the shower.  I cleaned up, dried off, and dressed.  Boy, did it feel good to get clean.  While he was in the shower I quickly packed my things and slipped out.  Downstairs, I got my tools out of the car.  The car door was locked but it has push buttons on the door that let you in. I walked over to another hotel, caught a cab to the bus station, and returned to Orlando.  I got back to my house at 5:30 am.  Other than one hour on the bus and the Chinese food, I had not slept nor eaten for 47 hours.