“I currently work in the tech field and have done so for most of my life. I had a bad run in my early adulthood making less than stellar decisions and ended up in some dumb places as a result. I tended to find jobs from questionable online sources, which looking back now, I can offer this piece of advice: please don’t do that; most of the time you are going to end up regretting it.
I found a job at a call center: a big one (to me anyway). I think in total we had something like 75 to 150 employees. I am not quite sure about this number as we had two buildings, one of which I only visited once.
The position was described initially by the company as ‘The IT guy,’ but it turned out to basically be a Systems Administrator role. They needed someone who understood the dialing software they used, which was something that I had experience in as a result of having many previous jobs in a similar setting.
I got the interview for the job, (if I remember correctly), over the phone, then I came in for something like a second interview in person with someone who turned out to be the current tech guy there. He asked a few questions and put me straight through the ropes.
He laid out a few things about what might be expected of me, then immediately started walking me through how to determine payroll and bonuses, as well as something to do with determining how much money was coming in based on sales (it turns out I was also the payroll person and helping out with invoicing to some extent).
This guy blasted so quickly through this, that I did not fully understand what was going on. I figured I would ask questions later and learn them in a more hands-on way when the time came. I am generally pretty good at hands-on learning and quick study.
He didn’t hammer the importance of doing this, however. It seemed like just a secondary thing that didn’t cross his mind. I believe I asked him if it would be a problem if I had questions… apparently not.
He did not brief me on anything about the equipment I would be working on.
He did not even show me the server room. He handed me credentials for the servers, and it was just, ‘Good luck, have fun…’
I later find out that he was actually leaving that day. He was quitting and was hiring his replacement before he left. He claims to have found something better, so I started the very next day at the office.
I show up and am blown away; this place is a lot bigger than any place I have worked at in the past. They show me to the server room and now I am worried. Suddenly, I find myself in my new ‘office’ which is the server room itself, and if I recall contained 14+ servers and a few major networking appliances.
I am seriously worried now because all of a sudden, I have a room in front of me with a lot of very expensive hardware and no clue what does what. Nothing is labeled, and the old tech guy did not even show me this room.
I also did not receive contact info for the old tech guy and am told for the most part by management to ‘figure it out,’ as the old tech guy ‘doesn’t work here anymore.’
I suck it up and decided I need this job. The pay was like $400 a week and although not much, I was in a bad relationship living in a house with 4 other people: 2 adults (my partner and a roommate), and 2 kids (the kids were not mine but belonged to my partner).
Add to this the sad fact that this is the most I made in a while, and the fact that no one in the house wanted to work, and now it’s up to me to put a roof over everyone’s head and make sure we have enough money for food.
I need this job no matter what because it’s the only job that will actually make ends meet, just barely, but it will do the trick. Plus, I have a perk in this job: after a couple of months, if all goes well, I get an additional $300 each paycheck… or so I am told.
So, if I can hold this job down long enough, I not only make ends meet, but now I have enough extra money to breathe; enough money to maybe even do something other than sitting around the house because we don’t have the funds to even leave and do something fun like go to the park.
The relationship I was in was an abusive one: physically, verbally, and emotionally. I was young and dumb and thought that I needed to do anything I could to make sure those two kids, at the very least, were fed. So, this seemed like my chance at maybe finding some happiness.
I thought, ‘If I fix the financial problems, then maybe the stress level goes down, and things will get better.’ Spoiler: that didn’t happen.
So now I am on a mission. I log in to every server that I can and start tearing into them to figure out IP’s software, etc.
I get into the dialing software, IchyDial I’ll call it, (if you know your dialing software, sounding this out will probably get you somewhere), and determine what the roles of the servers are. Now, I have a bit of a map. I know we have a handful of dialing servers, a few servers used for management, and so on.
I discover the use for every server but one. None of the login credentials work on this last server, so I decide to ask about this. Supposedly, they talked to the tech guy, and from what I understood, no one knows its credentials and it’s ‘not necessary to get into that server.’ Okay, fine.
Still, this is good news; I am in and I have an idea of what does what; it’s rough but it’s something.
The first payroll run comes in and I am totally lost. I try to get somewhere, but nothing gives. I ask for help and I am met with ‘figure it out.’ This, of course, is met with no results.
Eventually, the overlords pass the buck onto someone else that had an idea on how to do it, however, they were not always going to be available. That is a rocky first start. The overlords of course ask me why I do not know how to do this.
I explained that the old tech guy blasted through the initial orientation and really didn’t teach me much of anything about it. I was under the impression that I could ask questions and at least get some help. For the moment, no biggie, someone else is going to handle payroll.
Life moves on.
Something like a week goes by, and everything is fine. This is where things start to go bad. I come in one morning and the place is the IT equivalent of ON FIRE. Nothing works (even the satellite office is down), no one can make calls, no one is getting work done, and I have a lot of annoyed employees staring me down.
I am praying that my map is going to help me figure out the failure point. I get into the servers and start digging around; I am trying to figure out what to start with. This is taking me a while and I eventually tell everyone, ‘Go home and I will have management know once I get this problem fixed.’
That day was super awful.
It was a Friday, and I was actually there from morning into the evening, still there the next morning, leave at some point, come back, and keep going. I believe I figured out the problem that Sunday.
The first thing I notice is that all the servers are fine, everything is fine.
It takes me a while to check every server. Nothing is offline, nothing is broken, but there is one problem though. It takes me a while to get to this point, but eventually, I discover that none of the dialing servers have internet. The rest of the building, however, is fine.
The routing equipment is still ticking and seems to be providing internet everywhere else. In my frustration of not being able to pinpoint the source of the issue, I start following wires. I eventually find the wire that leads to the router from the switches that run the dialing servers.
In a moment of ‘YOLO,’ I decide to unplug the wire and move it to another port on the router because whatever; nothing’s working anyhow, I might as well get creative. All of a sudden, everything is working.
Now, for those of you that don’t know this is not supposed to happen, this routing equipment is not like your router at home.
It has a main feed for the internet and some programmable ports on it which you define how you want to split up for your internet and networks. You build a few separate networks – say one for your management staff, one for your dialers, and one for your call floor/normal work computers.
You program these ports to do this; they aren’t just generally online and ready to go unless you set them up to do a task.
I flipped a wire, and magically it’s working, which tells me one of two things happened: either someone reprogrammed the ports on the router, or someone moved a wire behind something like a thousand pounds worth of equipment.
This was not accidental, it was intentional.
Now I am annoyed. Someone has literally been screwing with my IT room; someone who knows what they are doing. My first suspect: the old IT guy. I eventually learn that he didn’t just quit for a new job. He demanded a pay raise, didn’t get it, told them no one would be able to run the place but him, and then left.
This is why he never gave me everything I needed, sped through the training on payroll and invoicing, and bailed in such a way that I would be left to figure it out and fail. There was one important factor he neglected to realize: I am a persistent guy and I will figure stuff out even if you leave me on an island with just a pocket knife and some ear swabs.
I have kids to feed, oh God, and no one is stopping me.
Now that I have everything back online, it’s time to trap this guy. I tell the overlords, a.k.a management, that this was sabotage; there is no way that this sort of thing ‘just happens.’ I told them I had a solution and convince them to bring in the old tech guy to ‘fix’ the problem.
I put the wires back the way they are and wait for him to show up. Of course, he shows up, goes up to the console, types one command in, then proceeds to jump a desk and flip the wire that I discovered, then jumps back over, checks for internet, and claims ‘it’s fixed…’ — this process took less than 2 minutes.
I call BULL on that big time. I send him on his way and proceed to explain to management that this isn’t a 1900’s phone switchboard. You do not just go and flip wires; wires are not magical and do not just move on their own.
This stuff doesn’t ‘just happen,’ and those ports aren’t just ‘programmed’ to work for the network that the dialing servers need to be on.
I am told something along the lines of maybe I do not know what I am doing. I think to myself, ‘How stupid can these people be?’ I demand access to the routing equipment.
After a ‘talk’ with the old IT guy, according to him, I do not need to be in that equipment, so I do not need to worry about credentials. Something was definitely fishy about this. I tried getting into the cameras and did not find anything.
There was a small gap in the camera footage from the front doors, which I thought maybe he deleted so I couldn’t trace it back to him coming overnight. This theory didn’t seem to work out, however, as he would have had to get in and out really quick if that were the case.
Something else is going on… my next guess, the server to which I am not allowed entry is his access point and where he is screwing stuff up.
I cannot risk the old IT guy taking down the building, but now I must fight both entities: him and management.
He is hacking in, and management is too stupid to realize or is involved somehow. I know I need to protect my job and the integrity of the equipment. At this point, I am backing up the crucial config. files and settings, databases, everything related to the dialing server, and I am keeping copies, waiting for the next strike.
The key thing I backed up was the dialing plan. If memory serves me right, this configuration file is sort of the layout on how to route calls going from one point to another, what prefixes on phone calls get you out of the system, into another system, etc.
It is used as a blueprint on how to route a call from one point to another, say, from a customer to one of our reps on the floor.
3 or so weeks go by and of course, it does happen.
This time he attacks the dialing plan on some of the dialing servers, which royally screws up the entire system.
We can no longer make outbound calls, so we are stuck. It kills the system halfway through the day, it takes me another handful of hours to figure it out, but eventually, I find the dialing plan with some slight changes. Now, on a side note, because of this problem, management thinks I do not know what I am doing, and I am screwing stuff up.
They bring in the guy who installed the entire system. I have already figured out the problem, but they want him there anyhow. He shows up and I come to the office with a literal printout of what I found. I explain to him what happened a week or so before, what happened today, the steps I took to protect the system, and a printout of the current configuration as well as the backup configuration.
I state clearly that this file does not just change itself, nor do I have any reason to go in this file and mess with it or change it in any way. He agreed; someone was in fact screwing with our system.
‘Now I am vindicated,’ I think.
I am free and clear of any wrongdoing. This was the guy well above both of our stations; the man who set the system up and the person they called when things really hit the fan. At some point, shortly after this, I ask about my pay raise.
I think I have done a decent job, and not just that, defended the company as best as I could from a vindictive tech guy. Nope, wrong! I will not be receiving that raise as they ‘need more time’ and ‘have had a lot of problems…’ I would never get that raise — you’ll find this out soon enough.
I did end up breaking into this ‘rogue’ server, removing the extra user accounts, and changing the passwords, effectively cutting the old IT guy out of the system completely, so he would not make an appearance after this.
Some really questionable things start to happen in between the first attack and now.
Some of these things you must be aware of. First, the company wants to call people on the national DNC registry; the DO NOT CALL list. I am not the savviest person with FTC laws and whatnot, but even I know that you do not screw with that list.
The current system takes all the phone numbers (leads) and scrubs them against this list to filter out anyone that is registered on the Do Not Call list, that way we do not accidentally call any of them. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I am asked to disable this filter.
I told them this was a bad idea and that I do not recommend it. I am met with, ‘just do it.’ So, I show them how to do it, wash my hands of the affair, and leave them on their own to do this. I do not want anything to do with that.
This was super shady and sketched out even more about this job.
The next major thing happens; they call me into an office and ask me to edit a call recording. I feign ignorance and say, ‘I work on computers, but I do not know how to work with audio files; I know nothing about it.’ I get pretty much a response along the lines of, ‘how stupid are you,’ and one of the other workers in the office volunteers to do it.
‘Good, I am not getting involved in that either,’ I thought. Of course, if you as a reader found this shady, so did I. I had one major problem: I CAN NOT LOSE THIS JOB. It was the difference between having a place to call home with food on the table, and well, not.
Granted, I had been in bad places, losing my apartment and everything, and being stuck in the gutter has been the story of my life up until this point. That story never involved kids though; it wasn’t just me this time. I could deal with the bad conditions when it was just me.
I could not, however, pass that on to the kids I was trying to keep afloat at the time. Best decision in the world? I don’t want to comment on that, but I will say I was young and naive back then and was willing to do anything to keep us going.
I kept my nose clean as much as possible through this process, which was not easy, and it left me walking down some pretty thin paths with major drops on either side.
Continuing with the series of unfortunate events, another major thing happens. It seems like a big nothing, at first, but turns out to be a major turning point in this whole ordeal.
A top producer, Nancy, for the company gave me their laptop to fix, which I never got around to completing. It sat at my house for a few weeks, it even was on the stove at one point, and someone very smart turned on the stove and burned the heck out of the bottom of it.
Yes, very careless, I know. I meant to order a new bottom cover and repair it before returning it, but this was on my own dime as I wasn’t going to demand that the company fix my screw-up. So, needless to say, on my tight budget I took a long time to get to it.
Back to the major timeline:
Apparently, all of these stops in production have cost the company some money, and they need to pass that cost down to the employees because ‘sharing is caring!’
The general manager, let’s call him Bob, walks into my office after emailing me a payroll Excel file and asks me to adjust the earnings and bring it down some…
‘Que?!’ I think to myself.
‘All of these problems are partly your fault; you need to help me with this and no one else is available,’ he tells me.
There is no way out of this for me, so I make some adjustments and pull like 2 grand across the board out of everyone’s checks — well everyone except the 4 or 5 top earners – can’t touch them; they might quit.
This 2 grand does not have much of an overall effect on the employees, but there I did something… ‘NOT GOOD ENOUGH, pull out more!’
I pull like 5 grand, which turns into 8, 10, 13, 18… I stop around 25 to 27K being pulled out of payroll of all employees.
I was being asked to pull more, but I explained I already basically halved all checks: I took payroll down to like 35k from around 60K or so. That is a lot of money, and some of those checks were getting very small. He left me alone at this point and had me email the files to him.
The next day is Friday, also payday, and CHAOS ENSUES!!
When I say people were annoyed, this is an understatement; they were out for blood and I got cornered. They were asking me how on earth did I screw up this bad. Most people left in a rush, but a few were ready to throw down and actually wanted to physically harm me.
However, one or two levelheaded people came to me in the madness and asked what happened, because everyone got screwed. I told them I did too, and being truthful, I said, ‘I did exactly what they asked me to do. They told me to do it; I don’t even do payroll most of the time.’
I got a response of ‘I knew it!’
Someone else said, ‘Better cash these before they bounce.’
I asked them about it, and they stated that they might indeed bounce since it was not the first time that the funds were insufficient.
I raced off just like everyone else, trying to cash this check before I had nothing in terms of finances for the next two weeks. Word got out. The people who asked me about what went down spread the word that management was actually at fault.
Monday rolls in and things get even worse. Bob catches me walking to my office and grabs me by the back of my neck and roughly pushes me into my office, then proceeds to scream at me asking why I told people about what happened, etc.
I am shaken and annoyed. I say almost nothing, let him yell it out, and leave. I am starting to reach a point of mental breakdown.
I should warn, I am a nice person, too nice, and I can bottle things up to the point where after a while, they blow up worse than Mt.
Vesuvius at Pompeii. I am sitting there in my office basically deranged like The Joker. I was angry that I didn’t do anything, angry that he had the audacity to grab me for something that was his fault in the first place, angry I was still sitting at my desk trying to collect a paycheck, and angry that I needed this income so badly.
I had mentally clocked out at this point. I continued to come into work Tuesday and Wednesday, then Thursday rolls in. Keep in mind, I said nothing to Bob and Co. about the event and let it be; I was mentally preparing for a new gameplan as I was basically done with the company, but of course, I still needed my check.
Thursday, one of the regular managers, let’s call her Becky, demands the invoice stuff to be done. This is the first time I am doing it, and I have no clue how. It has been a while since I even looked at the invoice spreadsheets. Becky and the other overlords are getting more and more frantic about it while I am trying to figure it out; I also don’t really care at this point since this job has put me through way too much trouble.
It’s now past the end of business day, and Becky is demanding the invoice. Apparently, she called Bob, (general manager and the same guy who grabbed me, mind you), and had him talk to me. He screams, ‘I am on my way, if this is not done by the time I get in, I am going to KILL YOU.’ I said calmly ‘ok.’ He hung up and I proceeded to start walking out of my office.
Becky proceeds to follow me through the building, yelling at me asking me what I am doing, and saying that I need to get back to my desk and finish that invoice report. I am pumped with adrenaline at this point. ‘Bob has already grabbed me once,’ I think to myself.
I believe him to be unstable and dangerous, and now he says he’s on his way and is going to kill me. I told Becky, ‘I am going to get my weapon. He assaulted me before and says he’s on the way and is going to kill me when he gets here.’ I continued, ‘I am not going to just let him kill me and will defend myself.’ Becky, the local manager, calls Bob, the general manager, frantically warning him not to come in.
He did not show up obviously. At that point, Becky was saying something along the lines of ‘Just go home and we will figure this out tomorrow.’
I show up at the call center the next day. I happen to run into Bob who is sharply dressed.
Mind you, I had never seen this guy in anything but shorts and a t-shirt before this. Now, he was in slacks and a button-down shirt. It reminded me of the SouthPark episode where Cartman wants to go to Casa Bonita, but Kyle won’t let him because he is always a jerk, so Cartman shows up dressed nicely and is apparently oblivious to the notion that being well-dressed has nothing to do with being a nice person who is kind to others.
I laugh about that odd event to this day since the only rationale that I can find for his attire is that he had a similar thought process to Cartman’s on that episode of SouthPark. Anyway, I digress. Continuing with the events, he asks me in a very nice way to please have that invoice report done when I can.
I am cordial, as always, and say, ‘I am working on it now and will send it to you once I get it done.’
I sit around and do nothing for a while. I lost all care for this job, and at this point, I am literally here to make a paycheck in the easiest way possible.
If I could avoid coming in and still get paid I totally would – work smarter, not harder, am I right? I am absolutely exhausted by this job and cannot justify keeping it. I go home that day, and quite frankly, don’t show up the next day or the day after that.
The third day arrives, and they call asking, ‘Where are you?’ simply put, I say, ‘I am done and I am not coming back. When can I come to get my last paycheck?’ Apparently, they were going to mail it to me. Sssuuurrreeeeee…
I don’t care at this point; I don’t expect it, but I sure as heck needed that paycheck.
A few more days go by. I am looking for a new job in the stupidest places again, and I get another phone call,
Becky: ‘You have Nancy’s computer!’
Me: ‘Uhhh what, who?’
Becky: ‘You have Nancy’s computer bring it now, or we will call the police!’
Me: ‘Wait… oh yeah, I do have it… where is my last paycheck? I never got it.’
Becky: ‘I will meet you with the check at XYZ gas station.’
Me: ‘I thought you mailed it.’
Becky: ‘We didn’t have a chance yet.’
I genuinely forgot all about that computer; it had been sitting in my closet.
So now, I am going to a gas station to meet Bob who has already threatened me and laid hands on me. I am actually armed this time. I get there early, check for cameras to make sure this goes down on video somewhere, and tell the gas station attendant that I am meeting someone there who has already threatened me, and if anything crazy happens to call the police.
He is confused, and I just reiterate what I said and walk out.
Bob shows up on the side of the gas station without cameras. I still wonder to this day if he did that on purpose. He gets out with a check in hand. YAY! I am thinking.
I bring the laptop. He goes to give me the check. I hand him the laptop. He pulls back the check suddenly and runs. I chase in pursuit. He gets into his car and closes the door. I rip the door open and unexpectedly, all the other car doors fly open, and guess who hops out? Everyone else in management.
The managers all go flying out and run off into the sunset. Bob gets the car in gear and runs over my foot with the back left tire on the way out. I am in a bit of pain, but I can still walk. This is some Honda Civic he’s driving, and I guess that the weight of the car is in the front and the air-filled tires in the back did little damage thanks to the speed and perhaps the weight potentially being mostly in the front car.
I am hurt and angry. I scream to the managers in the distance, ‘YOU ARE ALL WITNESSES!’ to which one screamed back, ‘I DON’T KNOW YOU!’ as they kept running off. Meanwhile, I am in pain after having my foot plowed over due to Bob’s reckless driving.
My ex calls the cops; they tell us to head to the police station. I show up and explain most of the story to them about the neck-grabbing, the death threat, and then running over of my foot. Astoundingly, the cop says that they have seen a foot run over by a forklift, and ‘the foot was like a pancake.’ In my opinion, that is a crazy comparison.
Forklifts have solid rubber tires, at least the ones I’ve seen them use at Walmart, and they have like a thousand pounds of batteries over those solid tires. That’s not going to work out the same as an air-filled, front-heavy car when the rear wheel runs over your foot, but what do I know? I am an IT guy, not a physics major or involved in the medical field.
I then proceeded to tell them about how I was coerced into modifying payroll, how the call center’s management refused to give me my last check, and how they tried to get me to call the DNC list as well as modify recordings they needed to keep for records on these phone calls.
Of course, nothing happened.
I left and ended up at my brother’s home who has his paramedic certs., or whatever, and had him take a look at my foot since I couldn’t afford a hospital. It had swelled up a lot; he had me soak it a bit and get some rest.
After a little while, the foot went back to normal and I went back to my life. The end….
Or so I thought. Roughly 4 years later, I pick up another odd job and I am supposed to show up at a small call center, fix a computer or two, get paid, and get out.
I show up, fix this computer, look behind someone’s desk to check out another problem, and one of the employees stops me.
RandomEmployee: ‘Hey! You’re the IT guy.’
RandomEmployee: ‘From that call center in (insert city)? I used to work there!’
My eyes go wide. ‘Yeah, that was me.’
RandomEmployee: ‘Did you hear what happened after all that stuff went down with you?’
At this point, I am shooketh.
Not only was I spotted, but apparently people knew to some extent what happened.
Me: ‘No I didn’t hear about anything after that.’
RandomEmployee: ‘They all got arrested!’
RandomEmployee: ‘Yeah FTC Showed up with guns and arrested all the managers.’
Them: ‘Yeah, a couple of weeks after you left, they came in with guns and everything.
They got everyone off the computers, started taking the computers with them, and then they started arresting people.’
I was blown away. Apparently, they were under surveillance by FTC, and my statements about all the things they were doing may have made their way down to the FTC and pushed the investigation over the edge.
Pretty much all management got screwed, and hard (Giggity). On top of that, I am pretty sure they were selling some illicit substances out of Bob’s office; that makes for a lot of surprises to go out on.
In the end, justice was served. Karma can be tough, and to think if I never took that odd job at the smaller call center a few years later, I would have never known about any of it.
The Moral of the story: don’t mess with the IT g–I mean, FTC; actually, don’t mess with them, lol. In addition, it is not super smart to screw with IT guys. Just look at the vindictive old tech guy; imagine if I was as much of a jerk as he was and decided to do something catastrophic to the system on the way out.”