12 September 2006

Kwitcherbitchin: Personal Phone Calls at Work

I’m amazed at some of the things people have to put up with at work, especially when it comes to misguided policies designed to boost productivity when in fact all they really do is hurt morale.  Too often, people are resigned to accepting these policies as a fact of life and mindlessly obey them for fear of getting fired, being passed over for promotion, missing out on a raise, or just upsetting the delicate corporate socio-culture.  But sometimes you find a hero in the corporate mist who is willing to give a hearty hell no to the status quo. 

Jeff, a friend of mine, was working feavorishly on a project whose deadline was looming.  It was a Friday afternoon, and he knew he was going to have to stay late that night to get a few things done before the weekend, so he called his wife to let her know not to expect him at his normal time.  He was in the middle of chatting with her when his manager walked up behind him, tapped him on the shoulder, and condescendingly told him “We don’t make personal calls at work.”  Jeff told his wife good-bye and hung up, but certainly not in defeat.

Jeff got an email that weekend from his manager saying that there was an issue with something and that he needed to come in to the office and fix it right away.  When he failed to respond, the phone calls started.  His cell phone, his home phone, his pager, his blackberry.  Everything was going off in rapid succession all weekend long because his manager desperately needed him to fix something that only he knew how to fix.  But over the course of the weekend those calls went unanswered.

Jeff showed up to work early monday morning and promptly started working on the issue.  Soon thereafter, his irate manager stormed into his cube and demanded to know why he was unreachable that weekend. 

To which he calmly replied, “Sorry, we don’t take business calls at home.”

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Damon Armstrong is a Senior Engineering Team Lead with GimmalSoft in Dallas, Texas, and author of Pro ASP.NET 2.0 Website Programming. He specializes in Microsoft technologies with a focus on SharePoint and ASP.NET. When not staying up all night coding, he can be found playing disc golf, softball, working on something for Carrollton Young Life, or recovering from staying up all night coding.

View all articles by Damon Armstrong