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Aug 14 2008   7:24PM GMT

The chronicles of an awful manager

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

A new blog popped up this month that any IT pro who has ever hated his manager can relate to. “Where is Bob? Tales of an absentee manager” appears to be a clever blend of fact and fiction. I guess it’s up to you to decide just how real it is. The blog is ostensibly written by “Anna Shore,” a Windows engineer with the Small IT Group (SITG) at at Big Private University (BPU) somewhere in New York City. Anna tells the tale of a small IT team that had gotten by without a manager for several months after its former competent leader moved on.

Then Bob arrives. Hired as the university’s new IT manager, Bob is a slovenly creep who says something inappropriate or offensive to just about everyone. Here is Anna’s first interaction with him:

“So, you are the girl at the office,” he uttered with a smirk. “We had a girl at the office at my last job. She made the best coffee! Better than Starbucks!”

“I am in charge of the Windows environment,” I replied, deciding to give him another chance. Sexual harassment could be charming, if done properly.

“I know a guy at Microsoft. VP,” he said definitively, and looked away. Our first conversation was over, and I immediately began to resent the fact that it wouldn’t be our last.

Beyond being a cretin, Bob also seems pretty clueless about technology. And not long after he takes over the department he begins playing hooky from work quite frequently, citing transparent excuses like car trouble and food poisoning. Anna’s descriptions of Bob’s incompetence and his absenteeism are deliciously well written.

Some of the details in this blog are too outrageous to be true, which leaves me thinking this is based pretty loosely on reality. Somewhere out there is a university IT department with a lousy manager. And whoever is writing this blog is definitely working there. Well, after writing that last sentence, I think there are probably scores of university IT departments with lousy managers . If I include corporate IT departments in that estimate, it probably ranges into the hundreds, maybe the thousands. Just read some of the comments readers have posted on the blog.

“Mike D.” wrote:

It makes me laugh…and, sadly, it makes me cry……I also have worked for a “Bob,” although not quite as bad as yours….thanks for sharing! Keep it up! Can’t wait to read more.

And “Bunny wrote:

Anna: I’m Bunny and I work at Huge Private University (HPU) and I’m an IT technician here. About four months ago, my uberboss hired Mike, the new manager. Your stories are disturbingly similar to what we have encountered here thus far … down to the sexual harassment and the technical as well as personal incompetence. And of course … the absence. At least, our Mike has the good graces to never give an excuse or even write us an email. We are thinking of starting out own blog about this … you have been a source of inspiration.

Today’s entry about Bob’s resentment of his predecessor (Jim), might be the best entry I’ve seen yet. It’s all about how Bob feels insecure about Jim’s legacy as a popular manager, so he makes a series of pathetic attempts to erase that legacy. All of them fail, including this particularly delicious one:

But that wasn’t enough, and Bob launched his foolish attack on our quips. The quips are a database of short quotes that Jim began to accumulate since the early days of SITG. Over time, each staff member made a lasting mark on the quips database. Our collection is eclectic, with selections from Mitch Hedberg, Rita Rudner, Jason the Intern, and many others. The quips are a happy addition to our day. They pop up on the pages of our ticket system, so whenever you start getting bummed out because your work queue is so very large, you can be cheered up with an amusing sentiment from Douglas Adams or Yakov Smirnoff.

And because about half of the quips were entered by Jim, Bob saw this as a direct threat, which had to be dealt with immediately. So one day, Bob stayed late, and manually (oh, yes indeed) deleted every single quip entered by Jim (about 1500 of them). This could’ve been done with one brief line of SQL, but Bob, of course didn’t know that. The following morning Dave noticed that the quips database had shrunk, and assumed that there was some sort of corruption or malfunction. So, he promptly restored the original database from the previous night’s backups. That night Bob stayed late again, clickety-clicking his way through 1500 records. This continued for a week – Bob’s futile deletes, Dave’s unassuming restores.

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