This week, we continue the tale of Noah and the Documentation Team. For Part One, click here.
Noah stuck his head inside his boss’s door. “You wanted to see me?”
His boss, David, a lanky man who wore nothing but golf shirts and khakis, stood by his four-pane body-length windows, a pair of binoculars in his hands. He smiled and waved at Noah. “Come on in. Close the door and get over here.”
Noah hesitated and then walked in, closing the door behind him.
David put the binoculars to his eyes. “You would not believe the things I see.”
Noah stood in front of David’s desk, his arms at his sides, feeling awkward as hell. “Yeah? Like what?”
“I told you to come here.”
Noah did as commanded, joining his boss at the window. David didn’t have the best office in the building, but he certainly had a good one: spacious and outfitted with all the best gadgets, including a big-screen TV that currently showed the PGA Championship. That all paled in comparison, however, to David’s view of the pond below and, Noah noticed, the apartment building on the other side of the pond.
“Fascinating,” David said. “I guess people assume that with the pond there, no one’s going to see what they’re up to. You wouldn’t believe what some of these people do. Here, take a look. Fourth floor, third balcony from the right.”
Noah feared what he might see, but he sure as hell didn’t feel comfortable telling David no in any way, shape, or form. “What am I…Oh.”
The third balcony from the right contained a curvaceous redhead lounging on her balcony, a book by her head, ear buds jammed into her ears. The balcony had a four-foot high solid enclosure, so she no doubt felt safe that her neighbors couldn’t see her lying there nude. Safe assumption, he thought, but she hadn’t accounted that folks on the eighth floor of their building could see right down into her space. He didn’t see why she would think of that, either. The buildings were far apart, and besides, who the hell brought binoculars to work?
David elbowed him. “I know, right? Every afternoon.”
Noah remembered David’s habit of holing up in his office in the afternoons. People knew not to schedule meetings with the guy after three, and forget about getting into his office unless it was an emergency.
Ew. “I…uh. Yeah. Wow.”
David took the binoculars from him with a grin. “Nice set of ’em, huh?”
“Best pair I’ve seen today.” He couldn’t figure out whether this constituted sexual harassment. If not, this had to be against the law somehow, right? He didn’t want to complain, and the view had been nice, but it felt so…wrong.
David patted him on the back and motioned toward his desk. “All right, let’s talk business.” The older man hung the binoculars from a peg on his wooden hutch and turned off the TV. “Hell of a game. Byrd’s up two strokes. You follow it?”
“I uh…” Noah shrugged. “I used to love Tiger Woods on the PC.”
“Oh yeah. Hell of a game. Well listen. We’ve got to talk about some serious stuff here.”
Noah’s gut tightened. Here it comes. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. Now you know things have been kind of screwy around here. That whole transition team last year?” He whistled. “They really screwed the pooch.”
David referred, of course, to the team that had been handed the job of transitioning Tier Two tech support away from an outside vendor and into a dedicated internal team. The whole thing hadn’t really been the Transition Team’s fault; in the course of digging through the vendor’s processes and the company’s internal framework, they discovered that no less than four separate teams within the organization performed the same support functions. Assuming that they had actually been tasked with streamlining the company and saving it money (never a safe assumption, but reasonable), the Transition Team recommended that at least two of the redundant teams be eliminated, with the remaining two consolidated into a single “super-team”.
The Transition Team didn’t realize that the two targeted groups were pet projects of certain high-ranking executives. Those executives dug their feet in at the very idea of losing even a minor portion of their fiefdom, and progress ground to a halt. The delay sent the transition team’s budget through the roof, and the entire project had been deemed a failure. The two “important” teams were retained, the Transition Team was dismantled, and the vendor continued to handle Tier Two support.
Mike had been right in the center of that chaotic storm and hadn’t realized it at the time; hell, as far as Noah could tell, he still didn’t realize it. He sure as hell hadn’t realized it when he spoke to Noah earlier, but that disaster had led them right to the downsizing rumor.
“Well, what are you going to do?” Noah said. “Cost of business, right?” He hated himself for even saying the words.
David started picking something from his teeth. “That’s the truth. I’m sure you’ve heard all the rumors about downsizing. What a bullshit term that is. I mean, I tell them these are people’s lives. You know? Their families.”
“Yeah, exactly,” Noah said.
“But like you said, what are you going to do? The suits are the suits.”
Funny, Noah had always thought of David as a suit, but now he questioned that. The guy never wore one, and did suits typically use their offices as doubles for peeping tom duty?
“So,” David said and leaned forward, hands on his desk. “I thought I’d tell you before anybody else got there first the whole thing turned into a funeral.”
Oh boy. Here it comes, Noah thought, wondering how difficult it might be to file for unemployment.
“We had to let Chip go,” David said.
For a moment, Noah wondered if he had heard correctly. “Chip? As in, ‘the-only-remaining-member-of-the-Knowledge-Management-Team’ Chip?” He fought to keep his emotions out of it. He and Chip had butted heads over Noah’s tennis ball, but he liked the guy. He was smart, funny, and knew his shit. It would be one hell of a loss.
“Yeah. The way it was explained to me is that Knowledge Management is a luxury we can’t afford.”
Noah bit back an objection. If he still had a job documenting knowledge, the need to manage it obviously still existed. This company never failed to surprise him. “Okay, is anybody else going to take on his more important roles? Like, maintaining the SharePoint site?”
“That’s part of why I brought you in here. We -” His phone rang, and he glanced at the caller ID. He held up one finger. “Sorry. Got to take this.” He picked up the receiver and turned around, staring out the window. “I’m in a meeting.” A pause.
“He’s back? What do you mean? Oh. I see.” David turned the seat around again and glanced at Noah. “Yeah. I think I know what we can do. All right. Bye.” He put the phone down and put his hands on the desk. “I don’t want to alarm you, but that was security, and apparently Chip is back in the building.”
That got Noah’s attention. “Okay.”
“Why don’t you and I move to a conference room, we can finish this discussion.”
Noah couldn’t help but feel something didn’t add up here; or rather, it did, and he didn’t like the outcome. “Chip wouldn’t happen to be coming back to shoot the place up, would he?” he said, half-joking.
David handled it with the same aplomb that he might handle a document inquiry. “That’s sure their suspicion.” He stood up and led Chip to the door, one hand on his shoulder.
“Shouldn’t we…I don’t know, get out of here?”
“Not much point in trying to make a run for it now, is there? He’s probably already on this floor,” David said, lowering his voice. “He’s going to come right here. I don’t think the cubes are going to be particularly safe, so why don’t we go to the conference room?”
The logic seemed unassailable. “Okay. Let’s go to the conference room.”
The story continues in Part 3 – click here to read it!