When I first got out to Deseret, I took a job answering phones for a satellite TV company. There were worse companies to work for. Like most call centers, it was a pretty hierarchial organization. We had a supervisor, but we also had a supervisor’s pool for whenever ours was either busy or out. Paid no more than $8/hour, I’d wager, they were nonetheless the big men (and women) in the room. A handful of them (but by no means all of ) were also quite cocky and condescending whenever you asked a question.
I now make more than they do at a job that would have greater upward mobility if I planned to stick around these parts. A number of my coworkers came from a call center in Mocum. Supervisors there (paid more than at my former employer) were more than happy to take a lowly Reports job at FalStaff. Part of me would really like to go back to one former supervisor in particular and rub it in his face that I’m in a better position than he is. It’s petty, I guess, but I’d really get a kick out of it.
Though I haven’t written about it as I intended to, my nemesis at work was a guy by the name of Teddy Forbes. Teddy was in QA (where I am now) right before I got here. He was the king of condescending. He used his position in the company to project an aura of superiority even as, I later found out, he was a terrible tester that rarely did any work and was more-or-less blackballed from going anywhere in the company. He left the company when he gave an ultimatum: up or out. Out he was.
Everyone from Teddy on down, everyone at both my former call center employer to almost everyone I talk about here, makes $10/hr or less in a job that garners little respect within the company. It’s enough to make anyone with a college degree a bit bitter. Teddy flashed around his college degree pretty frequently, never answering the question “If you’re such hot stuff, what are you doing here?”
I read somewhere that the biggest problem facing blacks in the Jim Crow era was not wealthy whites but rather poor ones. They were never a real threat to the wealthy, but the poor and uneducated whites desperately needed someone to feel superior to and acted accordingly. I’m not sure if that’s accurate, but the observations behind it are true enough. I think that some of the mid-lowers took out mostly needed a chance to feel superior than someone to make up for their own shortcomings, and so they picked on us littler people.
The thought occurred to me today as I was commenting that Willard and George have been doing a great job of picking QA people to pull from programming. I’m biased because I’m one of those people, of course, but the relations between QA and programming are better than they have ever been. Marc was pulled in to QA over people with more experience due to his people skills. Four of the five current QA testers worked under QA people with rather toxic personalities and I think that actually goes a way towards explaining our disposition. We’ve dealt with being condescended to and patronized, and we’ve no desire to make anyone else feel that way.
I was raised to treat anyone that works with respect. Even if they are just taking my orders at Happy Burger, there is never any reason to be unhelpfully rude. I find it interesting how many people out there are oblivious to the simple mechanics of teamwork. I may be in QA grading the work of coders, but we’re all on the same team. I’m even on the same team as the guy behind the Taco Hut counter. We both want the same things, more or less.
Another thing I remember reading somewhere was a quote that unfortunately I cannot source: It’s no accident that the black chess pieces and white chess pieces spend so much time fighting that they never realize that they have more in common with one another than they do their masters.