Andy KJ Cragg

Boss

What happened at my new job

Well, it is a job, after all, pennies into my account for long hours and hard work. Mostly unappreciated by the glum faces I see on Zoom. At least I get to work from my own cramped office and not have to listen to the juvenile banter that seems to be going on all day. The office is audible and visible from the daily team meeting. Ghastly. But I’ve had one month’s salary so far, and that is good.

My boss is obviously a bully, a bit racist and completely immune from any idea that there may be neurodivergence in her team, but here I am, in her team. She probably appreciates my turning up on time and being generally diligent but that’s it.

Today, though is tough.

She’s asked me to do a thing that is simply impossible, and I’ve seen this before. She’s taken against me for some reason. Perhaps it was that protracted argument where I tried to get her to explain something, and she got exasperated - until I showed her exactly what she wasn’t telling me. She then went quiet and told me and shut the Zoom down immediately - this happens a lot to me in general life, so not a biggie really. But it obviously is to her. So, today is where I decide if this outfit is where I want to stay or not. Probably not.

I’m on Zoom with the boss.

“Can you tell me where to find the specification for the second paragraph of section two of the document you sent me? I can’t complete this job without it, sorry.”
“I’ve already sent it to you, check your inbox again.”
I check my inbox, and nothing else from her apart from this piece of work with holes in.
“No, sorry, just the document, nothing supporting it.”
“I sent it to you, check your junk and deleted messages folders, I’m in meeting in a minute - “
“So am I, with you, it is scheduled to go on for another ten minutes, there is no other email, sorry, can you send it to me again?”
“I haven’t got time for this.”

And she’s gone.

I Zoom Jack, who seems to be the most friendly face here, but a bit of a joker. I bite my tongue.

“Hi Jack, how are you?”
“Never better, mate, never better. Beatings have continued, to improve morale, and my arse hurts, ha ha ha! Shit. Hang on. I’ll ping you back later.”

And Jack’s gone. I message him and get no reply. I get a message from the boss that my work is to be finished by the “close of play” today. Even if I had the extra info, that would be impossible. I now get a message from Sarah, asking me to do something that ‘won’t take a minute’. It will, and this is getting impossible. I’ve never spoken to Sarah before, no idea who she is. She could be my boss’s boss for all I know.

So that’s it, not staying here any longer. But I must do something about all this.

Speaking to HR would be an option, but I suspect it will make my situation worse, I’d be flagged as a troublemaker. What can I do? Revenge is probably not a good idea, but something that will make the boss and the other employees think a bit.

I’m buying a notebook, a webcam and a portable recorder. I could set record on Zoom but they would see that. I could download a video recorder app, but they won’t let me install anything on my computer without permission from IT. So, a web cam pointing at my screen and a notebook will do.

Today I am in a call on Zoom with the boss and this is how it is going:

“I delivered most of the project yesterday evening, has anyone looked at it yet? You wanted it by last night.”
“Yes ok, I’ll get someone to have a look at it. What progress have you made on Sarah’s task?”
“None at all, it took all day to deliver the project for you.”
“It should have only taken a minute. Have you even looked at it?”
“Yes, I looked at it, it would take me about two hours to get it done properly.”
“Properly? It should only take a minute. Are you serious?”
“Serious? Of course, I’d have to look at the spec, talk to Jack and - “
“Just get it done.”

And she’s gone, again.

It has just taken me three hours to do Sarah’s pointless task, which I know won’t be used and makes no sense (to me, anyway). I’m on Zoom to Sarah, to ask her some detail.

“Hi Sarah.”
“Hello Andy, what’s the problem? Have you looked at the task I gave you yesterday?”
“Yes, and I’ve nearly done it, I just need to know what - “
“Good. Look, I’ve got a meeting with Jack, it’s important, catch up with me later, ok?”

And she’s gone.

In my inbox now, staring at me is something from HR : “Personal Improvement Plan - next steps”. It looks very formal and was sent just after Sarah left the Zoom call. Plentiful uses of the word “mandatory”. After only 5 weeks at this joint I seem to be on some kind of disciplinary. And I’ve done nothing wrong.

Well, perhaps. I’ve also been sent an email from Jack with “You sly bugger” as the subject. I delivered the project for the boss, but without the information I required, so I just put in a box that said “need more info here, as requested” and didn’t allow the user to go any further - because, for God’s sake - I didn’t know how to, I wasn’t told. Jack thought this was funny but it would appear he’s dobbed me in to the boss, or Sarah (whatever position she holds, I still don't know).

I had a look at what I did for the project, and it seems that someone, Jack probably, has updated it, removing my “need more info …” with something I’ve not seen before, and would never have guessed at - he obviously had the spec I was asking for. But this is the development server, so the live server still has my “sly” message on it.

I’m in the office (urgh) and in a meeting room with Ahmed, the HR guy. He’s asking me some odd questions. I have my portable recorder in my pocket, recording.

“Andy, how long have you been here?” Goodness me, he’s HR, he should know.
“Five weeks or thereabouts,” I say.
“Yes, just five weeks. When we hired you, we expected you to be a team player and we did think you would be a good fit. Did you have something against the team we put you into?”
“Something against - “
“Yes, a personality clash perhaps, or do you have some commitment issues? Now is the time to say, Andy.”
“Um, no. What is the matter? Why am I, and you, HR, here?”
“It’s a formal process, Andy.”
“What for?”
“Ha ha,” Ahmed actually laughed at me, “we think you know full well, Andy.”
“I don’t.”
“Ok, this is getting silly, I’m going to end this here and let you have a think. Take the rest of the day off, come back tomorrow morning at 8 am sharp and we shall begin again.”

This afternoon I am drafting a letter to Ahmed, Sarah, Jack and the boss. I’m not naming the boss yet, the others are not their real names. But I will, in time.

In the middle of drafting this letter, which is going to be printed and sent by post, not email, I get a phone call to my personal mobile. It’s the boss and she wants to know where I am. I put her on speaker and start recording.

“Ahmed from HR sent me home, I’d have hoped he would have told you. And Sarah for that matter.”
“Well, he didn’t tell me. In fact he said you were being awkward and left the meeting in a flurry of obscenities, which means instant dismissal. We’ll pay you to the end of the month, you don’t have to come in or log on. Goodbye, Andy, and don’t approach this building, or any of my staff again. Do you understand?”
“No, I don’t. Ahmed suggested that I -”

And she hung up.

So, there you have it. I have recordings of all those contradictory conversations and have laid them out here, more or less. I’m going to look at some ‘constructive dismissal’ legalese and see my friend Rachel who is a lawyer. I can’t afford her, and I won’t pursue the claim, but what I can do is write all this down and publish it - I’ll ask Rachel to look at this ‘story’ and check it’s completely non-libellous (because it is all true) and publish it on my website and name names.

I won’t send the letter, I will just see if anyone from the company sees this and responds.

The company is called Play Twenty One and they do gambling apps and a crap website with the photos of Jenefer Bryonie (the boss) and Bishti Croft (Sarah), the founders - I didn’t think to look at the website for Sarah/Bishti, but there she is. Jack is not on it, nor is Ahmed but I don’t think I need to shame them, they were only doing their jobs.

Go to playtwentyone.com and have a look.

Equally, go to playtwentyone.com/safe/login1975 - the secret members’ login page I worked on.

This is going up on my personal webpage and my substack accounts and I await with bated breath, as they say, for any response from Jenefer or Bishti. Or their lawyers more like. The recordings are not yet public, but I’m keeping them for future use.

I shall let you know what happens.

Andy KJ Cragg, software developer, 24 May 2024.