Hired and Fired: My Sad Tale at SMSGH
It was a Thursday morning, on March 7, when I received an email asking me to "engage and talk with the possibility of joining the SMSGH team in mind." I was very excited because that was the first time I was receiving a mail with the motive of offering me a job at a real company. In the reply email, I asked of the kind of projects I will be working on and responsibilities I'll assume should I take the job. The next day, I was sent a DOCX document of this ad. Furthermore, I inquired about the company's view on paid overtime, dress code, vacation, telecommuting, and staff bonuses. With the exception of dress code, the rest were ignored—reasonably so—for the best.
Originally, I had written a more detailed, amusing, and somewhat satirical account about my whole experience at SMSGH, but later I reasoned that not everyone may share the same sense of humor as mine. In fact, some people are excessively quick to take frivolous matters out of context. So in the following paragraphs, I present a gentler, stripped-down, and-they-lived-happily-ever-after version for the tender-skinned and the frail-hearted. My intention of writing this essay is not to tell a what-who-did-wrong story, but to announce the news of my dismissal on my own website. Just for the record, today marks exactly a week since I got fired. Ouch!
Walking through shadows
My first two weeks were expectantly wasteful as the "Business Support Assistant" was showing me around the office and teaching me the rules and regulations. For example, "Close every door you open otherwise you'll not be allowed to open any." (Huh?) Also, my high expectations quickly died down. In fact, one of the senior developers told me: "Relax, we don't build rockets here." I'm not sure whether my expressions in any way suggested that but, surely, they were building things pretty much like bicycles. (Considering the fact that bicycles are awesome.)
During my early days, I was keenly interested in understanding how their systems worked by studying the code in the repository. However, when a colleague noticed what I was doing, he advised me to avoid doing so simply because "nobody understands Dido's code." Ignoring him, I persisted and discovered some bugs. This got me all excited because I thought I had something to prove wrong his earlier assertions. But while explaining the bugs, he gave me a certain demeaning look which made me feel awkward. Without delay, I stopped and sheepishly admitted that indeed Dido's code is not apprehensible. He felt proud that he'd been able to teach a fish how to swim.
According to an old English poetic saying, birds of a feather flock together, but for some reason, the CTO thought otherwise. He believed that if lions and sheep stayed together, they could learn a thing or two from each other. So I, being a sheep, was dispatched to a lions' den to learn how to roar. The result? Ask your mamma.
In spite of the fact that we all make mistakes, it's agreeable that the consequence of a child spilling some coffee onto the floor (provided you're not watching Final Destination) is not of the same depth as a physician administering strong medication on the wrong patient. Owing to that fact, telling the whole story in an online post is simply out of the question. Instead, I'll heed the Bible's counsel at Psalm 4:4 that: "Be agitated, but do not sin. Have your say in your heart, upon your bed, and keep silent." Besides, it's pointless and wasteful.
Things fall apart
Although I believed (and still do) that my attitude and conduct was pure and simple, several circumstances made me grow increasingly insecure of my job, feeling that my firing is eventual. Finally, I decided to take the nearest exit myself so I got an interview scheduled on the following Monday. Subsequently, I sent a request to leave the office premises between the hours of 9 AM and 12 PM on the said day but, almost instantaneously, the request was denied. At that point, I knew the end was imminent because come Monday morning, I shall leave the office and will get fired as a result—as if those events were posted on a Facebook wall.
When I came back to the office, I was right away asked to report to the CEO. I went in, only to get notified that I've been incinerated. Ya heard, I was fired! His statement went something like this: "I do not want an unstructured work environment where anyone does whatever he or she likes. I'm hereby terminating your employment for gross insubordination. I've already . . . [I didn't get that part] so there is nothing you can do about it. Hand over all company property in your possession to . . ." He then asked if I had anything to say to which I replied: "Can I finish my meal in the kitchen before I leave?" He agreed. So I thanked him, finished the meal, and then left.
After giving the happening a careful thought, I realized it was the right thing they did after all. Truthfully, I wasn't doing any real work at all. I would go to work and watch Zlatan's YouTube videos for the most part of the day, just waiting for the hour hand of my wrist watch to run past the SEbS point of the clock face. Why? Because I had so little to do. Really? Short answer: yes; long answer: become Michael Kwayisi and roll back time. On that account, I expected the reason for my dismissal to be along the lines of extreme unproductiveness, waste of company resources, et cetera. But, manifestly, that was a wrong guess—the CEO had his own ideas.
A thousand miles from nowhere
Food is for the hungry, but he that walks in integrity never lacks anything. That is a statement I wrote in my diary based on the lessons that I learned during my short tenure (May 6 - Oct 28, 2013) at SMSGH. If indeed I was insubordinate, then I'm going to spend the next couple of months subduing this negative trait so as not to suffer a similar consequence when I hopefully get a new job. On the other hand, if I do not possess such a destructive character, which would therefore make the reason for my severance hokum, prevaricated, and premeditated, then my time would be better spent considering a permanent migration from Windows to FreeBSD.
Currently, I'm doing some reading and meditation, hanging out with positive influencers, and eating more kelewele. (Actually, my goals in life have changed over the last couple of months, becoming less materialistic.) Although I'm no longer an employee of SMSGH, listed below are nine lessons I gathered while working there—you may add a 10th.
- Bigger bowls do not always give greater satisfaction.
- Ideas are cheap but code is expensive.
- Let your works prove your worth but not words.
- You don't need to be a programmer to develop software.
- Anticipated problems are easier to solve.
- Keep testing yourself whether you're still a programmer.
- Do not think that thirsty dogs don't bite.
- It's better to be a Norvig than to act like a Jeffries.
- Programming is like karate; someone will always know more.
Goodbye SMSGH. I know I won't be missed.