Horrible People I Have Worked With

I worked as a freelance copywriter for a catalog house back in the early 90s. After a while they offered me a permanent gig. At least I think they did. It’s been quite a while, and I think I would have had to be ensconced there for what happened to have made sense.

Anyway, at this place the IT guy was a large fellow with a wriggly mustache, and he mostly hid in back. It was a small shop, so there wasn’t much for him to do beside keeping the computers going and periodically backing up all the data. Maybe he blew on the mainframe when it overheated, I don’t know.

One of his main activities, however, was being a fink. I’m sure he was ordered to do so by the manager, but he seemed to take delight in it. He watched not only the main server, but everyone’s hard drive, looking out for forbidden use of company time and memory. I didn’t care. I was still pretty computer illiterate back then, and the Internet consisted of six pages, so there wasn’t that much to do. I had a Mac SE at home that I mostly used to type up articles for my zines, and I was still typing letters on a word processor. Stone age, man. In short, I didn’t use my work computer for anything but work.

One day, the manager calls me into her office and tells me to close the door. Uh oh.

“Dan, can you take a look at this print-out, please?” she said.

I did. It was a screen shot of my hard drive, but since this was 1993 (I think), I didn’t know what I was looking at. An arrow pointed at a particular document titled “TEST,” and connected to the arrow was a handwritten note from Mr. I.T. Mustache.

“Meg, I found THIS on Dan’s hard drive.” I think his name was something like Skip or Chip, but I can’t recollect. Something douchetastic like that.

“Do you want to tell me what that document is, Dan?”

I had no idea what was going on at that point. I knew what it was, but I wasn’t sure why I felt so doomed. Regardless, I told her:

“Uh, I think it’s my copywriting test. The one Con had me take during the interview process,” Con was the copy editor. She had a fondness for marking corrections with purple ink rather than red, because she felt red ink had negative connotations. Consequently, purple ink started to carry negative connotations for me.

Meg just stared at me, still looking like she was about to tell me I was so, so, SO fired. Then she softened a bit and said, “All right. Well, remove it from your hard drive immediately.”

“Okay,” I said. I was massively confused.

Later on I talked with one of my coworkers, and she told me that Mr. Mustache regularly trolled our hard drives, looking for resumes and cover letters, and that’s probably what he told Meg. Even though a quick look would have revealed that my “TEST” document was neither. I gave Mustache the evil eye from that point on, even though he was one of those turds who recognized a fellow geek and wanted to chat about Clive Barker or LARP or whatever the hell he was into.

No real conclusions, but it astonished me that someone could be not only petty enough to look for ways to hurt a coworker, but clumsy enough to risk that person’s job without any real evidence of wrongdoing.

Truly, truly, he was a horrible person.

Author: Mr. Dan Kelly

Chicago writer interested in many things.