After a few days at TCTSRN, I got a call from Mr. Whiteboard’s boss. I’ll call him Mr. Bill. I had met him a few times, once at one of my interviews. He had popped in and made small talk while Mr. Whiteboard stood at his side, gleaming.
There was something odd about the way Mr. Whiteboard acted when he was around his boss.
He would, um…throb.
Almost vibrate. Like he was masturbating. Weird look on his face, almost like…pleasure.
As he would bask in the charismatic glow of his boss, I fantasized about offering him a napkin to wipe Mr. Bill’s fecal matter off of his nose. Mr. Whiteboard was Mr. Bill’s Yes-Man.
“Can you come up and talk about a project?” Mr. Bill asked.
He had a nasally voice, almost gay. Not that there is anything wrong with that. In fact, from here on out, I will suffix (a technical term meaning I will follow every mention of a word with something) the word “gay” with the acronym “NTTIAWWT”. I don’t want to piss off any gays (NTTIAWWT). I have some good gay friends, and they would get ticked if my online alter ego were a homophobe.
Back to Mr. Bill. I didn’t think he was gay (NTTIAWWT), just, um, delicate? He had two kids and was around my age. But the combination of his pastel wardrobe choice (lavender and pink dress shirts are very in now), high-pitched voice, and a last name that is a derogatory term for homosexuals had my Gaydar buzzing.
The name thing was out of his control, but everything else had me thinking that if ever got in an elevator with the guy, I wouldn’t be surprised if he busted a move on me, like Donald Sutherland did to Michael Douglas in “Disclosure.” You know, where they are alone in an elevator and Sutherland, who is Douglas’ boss, starts making out with him. BTW, that movie has one of the best damn quotes:
Why don't I just admit it? Admit that I'm that evil white guy everyone is always complaining about? Hey Chau-Minh, come down here so I can exercise my patriarchal urge!
Anyway, I go up to his office on the 7th floor, with the nice view of the 22 Freeway, where everyone wore ties. He tells me about the project, something to do with a web page to log calls that suicidal people make to the company. Evidently, it happens fairly often. A guy with a gun in his mouth will call up TCTSRN because he thinks they can help him get medical help, and starts threatening to commit suicide. They needed some way to respond to and track those calls.
No big deal, I explained – couple of web pages that we can throw on the InfoNet. Mr. Bill liked things on the InfoNet. The portal was his baby. It was nothing more than an intranet site where all things company related got dumped. The online phone director, the help desk app, links to HR forms, even a classifieds section where employees could sell stuff. It ran on Sharepoint. Barely. There were always problems with it. And when there were problems with InfoNet, Mr. Bill would call somebody, like the guy on my team that tried to maintain it, Mr. Coffee. It was his baby, and it better damn well be running.
Then it got weird...
“Uh, I was trying to demo that Online Inquiry App for some people the other day. It wasn’t working. Do you, um, know what’s going on with that?” he asked.
“Online Inquiry? Yeah, I think we’re still working out some issues with that site.” I was bluffing.
I barely had any idea where the break room was, much less why the “Online Inquiry App” wasn’t working. All I new was that Charlie was working on it, and it was a mess. A hacked up goo of a web site, C# layered with VB.NET, written by a flaky consultant and junior developers who didn’t know what they were doing. I had glanced at the code and was going to urge a rewrite.
Bill continued. “It’s very important that we get that site up.” He was smiling at me.
“Definitely,” I said. “I’ll look into it.”
“Good. You know, it seems like this project should be done already. Sometimes Mr. Whiteboard indulges his staff. A bit too much, in my opinion. I mean, we sent this guys to .NET training…”
It was getting dicey. Here was the CIO dissing my boss and putting the squeeze on me to get this pet project of his out the door. I treaded lightly.
“Sure. I understand.”
He smiled some more. “Good,” he said as he stood up.