So I start week two in the curry den, a little hung-over from Super Bowl weekend. BTW, any other place I would be working at would have a pool going around the week before the big game, but not at CLS. Like I said, it’s a concentration camp.
Walking back from the break room, I get the stink-eye from the Sikh PM. Shit, if looks could kill…
I start to freak.
I had spent a lot of time this weekend trolling on www.ImmigrationVoice.org, and I pissed many a Desi off. But it got a little creepy. Too many of the Desis wanted to know who I was. One even invited me to have coffee in the D.C. area and talk. Why? What is wrong with a little flame war with an anonymous identity?
Maybe they wanted to burn my house down. After all, that’s how they settle things in India.
Or they just wanted to out me at the curry den (which is more likely).
So I was more than a little paranoid when the architect comes in my cube.
“So, what are you working on?” he asks.
“I’ve created the database objects and the middle-tier classes for those modules we talked about last week. Ready to move on to the insert, delete, and update procs.”
“Okay, so how much more time on those business objects?”
“Uh, five, ten minutes,” I tell him.
“Ok, wrap it up, check it in and move on the next module. Dikshit [not his real name, but it could be] will finish that code.”
This is getting weird. We had agreed that I would work on the middle-tier and back-end for about eight pages that had similar functionality, and the farm boy H-1B from Delhi would do the front end.
Nothing freaks a contractor out more than the words “wrap it up and check in your code so the other guy can finish it.” That or “start documenting everything you’ve done in the last six months.” That is the kiss of death – your gig is up and it is time to move on.
But this had been only a week, and I had been kicking ass.
That’s it, I thought. Some CEWP at IV had sent some emails, maybe even got hold of some corrupt Indian CTO at Google to reveal my Blogger identity, and had dropped a dime on me at CLS. Shit.
But the architect went on to the next module, explaining what code I could re-use and the plan of attack. Ok, maybe I was just being paranoid.
So he leaves and I get busy. I try to log into the database, and no dice. Shit. I am SO fucked. Ok, maybe I fat-fingered the pass word. I am shaking by now.
THEY KNOW I AM TUNNEL RAT.
Finally, I get logged in. My heart is doing the “I just took a hit of crack” drill. Man, this is creepy.
All right, so far so good. But what if some Desi did out me? What the fuck is CLS going to do? The PM is Asian, an American citizen. The VP of software dev is a honkey, and he likes me.
Does CLS really want to fuck with me, a middle-aged white guy with four mortgages, a Marine Corps vet to boot, and one who would make a huge scene in the curry den? It would take half the police department to drag me out of there, kicking and screaming. Of course, I would alert the media first, and it would be like a major international incident that would put a face on the plight of victims of the H-1B scam.
I could see it now, camera crews filming the pissed of cracker getting arrested, as literally dozens of Indians stand around, smoking and calling their friends in Bangalore...
I go to get another cup of espresso from the break room, and see this import that looked familiar. Damn, I know this guy, I thought. So I texted my buddy, the honkey that got passed up for the other contractor slot:
ME: Hey what was that paki’s name at [insert name of company that I walked out of after getting into verbal altercation with clueless manager here]? I think I just saw him here
HIM: Farhan. He is supposedly working in [yadayadayada]. Does it look like they are doing more interviews? That would mean they have no intention of bringing me in.
ME: No interviews. No sign of the new guy. Pc tech told me they expect new contractor
HIM: Ok, so I still have a shot. [Asian PM] told my rep that he would like to bring me in but would probably have to wait till Tue or Wed for the “specs” to be evaled. Any mention of you working weekends? Is anyone even coding yet?
ME: I think they are trying to cut scope. I worked a little ot Friday. Yes coding with a vengeance. Are you still at [yadayadayada]? its freakin weird here. Very high stress. No headphones or web surfing either.
HIM: No headphones allowed? That is weird. Really weird. And high stress does not translate into a productive environment.
ME: Yeah all the bickering in broken English gets distracting
HIM: Ah, stress AND unprofessional behavior. All you need now is a broken AC unit to ripen the air.
I ran into the import again in the hallway later. “That guy I worked with was named Farhan, looked just like you.”
“No, not me, “ he said, giving me the stink-eye. Indians HATE getting confused with Pakis.
But I was still pissed. The whole State Farm shit has getting me wound up, and there is a little retail State Farm office across the parking lot from CLS.
So I print a copy the page from the web site detailing State Farm’s H-1B scandals, and staple my business card to it. I walk over to the agency and tell the receptionist that I have two policies and need to talk to my agent.
“Let me see if he is off the phone.” It’s a small office and she ducks her hid into her boss’s office. She waves me in.
The guy is in a T-Shirt, sitting behind a huge desk. Sports memorabilia covers the walls.
We shake hands. “What can I do for you?” he asks.
“I have two houses insured with State Farm and want to cancel my policies.”
“Uh, really? Uh, how come?”
“Well you see,” I tell him, “I am a computer programmer. And although I have a ton of experience, I have a hard time finding work because companies like State Farm import foreign programmers under a so-called H-1B program, exploit them, and fire people like me.”
“Huh? I never heard anything like that.”
“Yeah, well, I can’t do business with a company like yours. See, I joined a union, WashTech, which is part of the Communication Workers of America, which in turn is tied to the AFL-CIO. And we can boycott State Farm if it doesn’t replace those H-1Bs with Americans.”
“But, uh, you’re, uh, a computer programmer?” he mumbles.
“Yeah, I am. “ I threw the printout detailing State Farm’s Patni and Satyam scandals and stood up. “Maybe you should let the big shots in Bloomington know that WashTech is boycotting State Farm and you are losing business. I don’t think all those Indians they hire can make up the difference – they live 10 to a room in some dumpy apartment. Not much need for home insurance from those guys.”
“Well, this is the first I’ve heard of this, uh--”
“-- But not that last,” I told him as I walked out.
To be continued…