Sinister LLC's Chief Technology Officer now lives in mortal terror of Laura The Debt Bitch. A certain Sub Rosa partner woke up in the middle of the night and, likely still in a half-conscious, dreamlike state, had the "brilliant" epiphany that one of Sub Rosa's daughter firms should run our IT. In the abstract this sounds like a clever idea. Save on central costs, preserve confidentiality of sensitive email (except perhaps that email that talks about the sale of the daughter firm itself) and all the related goodies. The plan came off its rails immediately when Sinister LLC was selected as the daughter firm to host our precious informational cargo.
Since the transition, we have become subject, quite literally, to weekly emails announcing that, beginning at 3:00 pm Pacific time on Thursday, email and the website will be unavailable for "a short period." Apparently "short period" at Sinister LLC means "four hours." No one seems more annoyed by this than The Debt Bitch. Or at least, no one is quite as vocal about it.
Seemingly forgetting that this plan is the baby of a Sub Rosa partner, The Debt Bitch has launched a campaign to malign the information technology department of Sinister, LLC. It isn't difficult.
About a week and a half ago she storms into my New York office at around 6:45 pm with a "Is your email working?"
"No," I replied. "No one's is. It's being... maintained." I don't say that this is the second "maintenance" outage this week because she already knows.
"This is bullshit. What mickey mouse bozo starts a major maintenance program at three in the afternoon on a workday and runs it for hours?" I later discover that she's lit up because she's waiting on a rather important term sheet for debt financing from a hedge fund. I'm about to answer her but I don't get a chance. She sits down in front of my desk picks up my phone and is in the middle of dialing when she asks "Can I use your phone?"
"Go right ahead." Like I could stop her anyway. The Debt Bitch is typically animated, or at least expressive, when she talks on the phone. Many a time have I walked by her office to spy her stalking back and forth in front of her window with her phone plastered to her ear, or lounging seductively on the little couch in her office with her legs up on the arm, pouring the sweetest golden honey into some debt dealer's ear. (Now that I think of it, why does she get a couch? She's only an associate. I'm a Vice President and I don't get a couch). This time she just stares at me with a blank and somewhat frightening look in her eye as the main line at Sinister, LLC rings. Her expression turns dark when its answered and she leans forward, reaches over my desk and clicks on the speaker phone before depositing the handset back in the cradle.
"...Sinister, LLC, a Sub Rosa company. Our office hours are 8:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Friday. If you know the extension of the person you wish to speak to dial it now." I recognize the apathetic, nasal voice that is Sinister's main receptionist. We both look at the clock on my wall simultaneously. It is 6:56 pm in New York. 3:56 on the Left Coast.
"What in the fuck is this?" The Debt Bitch says "fuck" a lot around me, but seems to avoid it with anyone else around. I'm not sure if this is some sort of seal of approval for me or not. What does it mean when a co-worker feels free to use profanity in your presence but not around other employees?
"...For our directory by last name press 411. For customer...." She leans across my desk again and over the phone backwards to stab the "0" button on the number pad.
"Thank you for calling Sinister, LLC, a Sub Rosa company. Our office hours are...." The anger builds. She stabs "1" with even more irritation. A long pause.
"Thank you for calling..." Fumes start to radiate off of her.
"Try three digits," I suggest. "Maybe 001 will get you the CEO." I'm joking. I couldn't imagine wanting to talk to the CEO about an IT problem.
"...Monday through Friday. If you know the extension...." To my surprise she pounds "001" into the phone so hard the handset bounces briefly lifting the switch-hook and cutting the speaker off before settling back in place with a rattle and clicking off the extension. It takes all my effort and restraint to keep from laughing.
Wordlessly, she hits the speaker phone and dials again. "Thank you for calling...." She smacks 001, a little gingerly this time, but I can still hear the irritation in her key presses. A ring. Another. A third. A fourth. A quick pause, a fifth sort of half-ring as the call is dropped into voice mail.
"You have reached the office of Theodore Slone. Mr. Slone is not able to take your call. Please leave...." Theodore Slone is Sinister new CEO. Jeff, Sinister's old CEO, got the ax in no uncertain terms back in June. It seems pretty clear that Sean, the Sub Rosa partner who tapped Jeff, is soon going to be "pursuing other interests." I'm sure Sub Rosa will "wish him the best of luck in his new endeavors," however. The Debt Bitch smacks "0" again.
"Thank you for..." She smacks "411." "Please dial the first three letters of the last name of the person you are calling." This presents Laura with something of a dilemma. She twists her neck to try and read the letters upside down.
"What the hell is the IT guys name?" she growls.
"Emmerson?" I ask. She stabs "366" quickly just before I realize she was probably asking for the junior IT guy who sends out maintenance warning emails twice a week. Todd Emmerson is Sinister's CTO. Oops.
"Todd... Emmerson," says Todd Emmerson's voice. "Press 1" says Sinister's apathetic, nasal receptionist. Laura stabs "1." A ring. Another. Three. A fourth. A quick pause, a fifth half-ring as the call is dropped into voice mail.
"You have reached the office of Todd Emmerson..."
"Does anyone actually work at this fucking company?" Laura demands. I just shrug. "Sinister has employees, right? It's not populated with voice mail messages right? Customers can reach a human, can't they?"
"...if this is an emergency Mr. Emmerson can be reached via cellphone on...." The Debt Bitch brightens.
"Ah HA!" She's getting quite good at dialing upside down by this time. She punches in the cellphone number of Sinister's CTO. A ring. A second. The phone is picked up. A man's voice.
"Heh-low?" Car sounds. Music is playing in the background. I swear it's New Kids on the Block.
"Mr. Emmerson?" Laura always uses last names of people older than her. I picture her parents as old school German types who cling to the formality. It actually serves her well. She must sound like a IRS agent or a creditor or something because it tends to throw people off guard. The music stops mid-lyric. The car noises don't.
"Mr. Todd Emmerson?" I swear she does that intentionally, that "Mr. so and so? Mr. Bob so and so?"
"This is Laura, from Sub Rosa, LLC." A long pause, no recognition from Mr. Todd Emmerson. "Your parent company? The firm that owns you?" I stifle a laugh and cover it with a deadly serious look because she said "Owns you," not "owns the company you work for."
"Oh... well..." A pause. "Heh-low." Much more serious now.
"I'm here with Equity Private, my Vice President." I am constantly tickled with the way Laura says that. "We are very concerned about the continuing email outages and would like to ask you some questions, but if your in the car... I see it's nearly four o'clock perhaps this isn't a good time." The sarcasm literally drips off of "four o'clock" like syrup.
"Well, no, of course. Uh, how can I help you?" Todd says "well" quite a lot.
"Mostly we are trying to understand why twice weekly maintenance is required? Also, no one seems to be in the office today. Is that because the email isn't functioning?" She's being quite polite, really, but I can tell it's poised to get ugly.
"Uh, well, no one is in the office?"
"No one is answering the phones. The main number goes straight to voice mail. Who's in the office doing the maintenance?"
"Well, I guess I'm not sure." The Debt Bitch says nothing. A long, stony silence follows. She's very good at those and she wins the stand-off. "I expect it is routine maintenance on the Exchange server," Todd stammers.
"You are using... Microsoft Exchange?" You would think Microsoft Exchange was illegal given her tone.
"Well, yes. For email."
"I see," Laura deadpans. A long pause again.
"Well, it is probably a backup operation."
"Probably. Look, can you figure out what is going on and get back to me? We are waiting on some critical and time sensitive documents here. I would call someone else but no one else seems to answer the phones. Is there maintenance going on with the phone system?" I am sure The Debt Bitch was joking about the phones, but the question comes off as a serious one.
"The phones? No."
"So you will get back to me today?"
"Well, sure. Uh, what time is it there?"
"We are in the office every day until at least nine," Laura says. "And most Saturdays until five or six," she quipps, rubbing it in.
"Uh, well, ok."
"Thank you." -click-
He never called back.