The Perks of NOT Being An Employee

The value of my time as a consultant is not a sunk cost.

This was years ago, and the company in question no longer exists as an ongoing entity, but… my client’s top management, in its infinite wisdom, decided that they needed to have an “all hands on deck” meeting. Literally, everyone in the company, from the CEO down to the receptionist at the front desk, was expected to attend. This meeting started at 9 a.m. and lasted till 11 a.m. EVERY DAY. For SIX MONTHS. Not kidding.

This is the same company that, somehow, despite the presence of servers and a Gigabit Ethernet network, had me dispensing 20+ USB thumb drives a month to employees because “sneakernet” was “easier”.

I’d walk in at 10 a.m.(1), and go, “Where is everybody?!? This place is a ghost town.” Then I’d walk by the kitchen/cafeteria/meeting room, and go, “Oh, they’re still in ‘the meeting’, that explains it.” And rejoice at having a metaphorical spinning cash register display floating a few inches above my head.

Having a dollar value attached to your time has a wonderfully salubrious effect on the frequency with which you’re asked to attend pointless meetings and do brain-dead stupid things. It doesn’t prevent all forms of lunacy (you want me to do what? go buy you a paper shredder because that’s somehow a “technical thing”? o.k., sure), but it does reduce the frequency of this phenomenon.

Footnote (1): The way traffic in Silicon Valley works means that in the pre-pandemic world, I either left for work around 6:15 a.m., and got there around 7/7:15 a.m., or I left at 9:15 a.m. and got there around 10 a.m. If I left at, say, 6:45 a.m., I was lucky to make it to the office by 9.

Given that I’m not paid to sit in traffic, and gigs where I needed to be on-site always involved a degree of end-user support and interaction, that usually meant arriving later, rather than sooner. It also meant that my workday ended at 6:30 p.m, not 5:30 p.m., which had the handy benefit of meaning I only had to deal with the tail end of rush hour (and usually had an hour of peace to myself at the end of the day).

By Ghost In The Shell

very oldschool computer geek: started with Sears brand Pong on an 11" black and white TV, used a variety of 8-bit home computers, including a Commodore PET... for work; in 1992! Got online in '81, dialed up to BBS systems using 300/1200/2400/9600 baud modems and an ADM3A green screen. Got on the internet via a hard-wired serial connection to the campus Prime minicomputer, where I was also introduce to the Amiga. Essentially wound up being an Internet drop-out from that school, and then again when I quit school a second time and started a successful pre-boom era Was the sysadmin, we ran HP-UX and Solaris. Along the way, I started one of the world's first websites in '93 (and it's still running under someone else's care and feeding). Ran a dot.bomb into the ground around the millennium, then eventually wound up doing IT consulting (glorified sysadmin, essentially) for a living.

Unlike our namesake, I'm an admin who occasionally writes code, so I have a slightly different take.

Leave a Reply