Tale of whoa

Our Off the Record contributer ended up on a tech support job that was much more than he had bargained for

Y2K had come and gone, and in February of 2000 I was summarily laid off with a group of about 150 other folks, none of us aware that we'd been secretly hired as temp help in case Y2K went badly. It was 3 days before my son was born, and I needed a job (I mean, have you seen the COBRA rates?). I took the first thing that was offered and started the following week with an IT consulting outfit. It was a lot more driving than I wanted, and the clients were never closer than 50 miles from me, but it was a job, and I was still looking. After about three months, I had another offer coming together from somewhere else and was looking forward to a change when I was dispatched to a business that was a compound first name. I'll change the name, but it was like "JoeBob." I'd heard the name but was unfamiliar, and after the long haul there, I was surprised to find a big hole in the ground.

It looked like a big burnt dirt pit filled with garbage and who knows what. There were people in containment suits and Tricorders or whatever looking around and a lot of Crown Victorias and panel vans. The "office" was an old mobile home with plywood and dirt flooring and two grimy old desktops. It smelled so badly it hurt. When I entered, I startled two guys who were wearing sunglasses indoors. Imagine the Men In Black uniforms in blue, and you've about got it. These two spun around quickly, demanding to know who I was. I said I was with XYZ company and apparently we were the IT support for JoeBob. They said they were from the EPA, and demanded that I restore data from a backup.

Uhhh. I grabbed my phone and called in to my office and asked to speak with my boss. When he answered, I just said "I quit." No two weeks notice or anything. For all I know I was breathing in asbestos or Agent Orange -- and they'd sent me here. I told the EPA fellows that I'd just quit and wished them luck, but in hindsight, I can't help but wonder: Shouldn't they have had their own data forensics teams?

The whole thing makes no sense. I'm a complete stranger there and they want legally admissible (probably incriminating) information? It was equal parts scary and dumb, and I fled to geek another day. According to the news, JoeBob Inc. had been accepting hazardous chemicals for bribes. I wonder if the EPA was looking in Quickbooks under "bribes." Oh, and I got the better job and started the following week.

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