Friday 13

15 years and 8 months ago, on a Monday
The 16th of October 2006, to be precise

That’s when I and my former employer, Team Code, Inc., said good bye and went our separate ways: Friday, October 13th, 2006.

It was getting weirder every day. The position was Multimedia Developer and it was OK for a while. I was doing lots of things, from ActionScript programming to audio/video editing and DVD mastering. I was part of a small team of seven people and our main products were interactive and client-customizable Flash stories for small children.

Things seemed to work out well, especially since early demos featuring Marvel characters Spider-Man and Fantastic Four were considered very successful, and negotiations were initiated with both Marvel and Upper Deck in order to establish a series of stories with the famous characters. One unexpected outcome was they eventually shown interest in buying the whole concept of the product from our small company, then start developing a new line of stories keeping us as an outsourcing studio for the first years of production. It seemed our employers struck gold, of course we didn’t have any details but we could all imagine it was a deal involving cheques with lots of zeroes.

We left for the holidays vacation in December 2005 feeling really optimistic, the negotiations with Upper Deck were much, much longer then anybody expected, but the signs were positive. We all got a Christmas bonus, and I can tell you — at least for me, this was a first: none of my former employers ever bothered to pay me overtime, let alone bonuses of any kind!

You can imagine we were all struck numb when we returned to the office on January the 3rd to find out all seven of us will be off for a month’s unpaid vacation because the company didn’t have the cash to pay our salaries! Apparently, the Upper Deck and Marvel deal had gone down the drain in those few days between Christmas and the New Year, after more than six months of negotiations. There were no other details, so nobody could really say if this was really happening or it was all bull-shit.

Anyway, this story is so old now and I’m so tired of it that I must cut it short. It all ended with five of our team getting fired (four artists and a fellow programmer) on September the 1st. The former team leader and I were transferred to the other team where we were supposed to work on RIAs. This meant a lot of Flex development, a lot of study of new technologies, and occasionally some web design. No more multimedia.

In totally different conditions this would have probably been OK. But the stress at home, combined with the stress of having to assimilate a lot of new things at the office in a very short time, got to me really bad. I was coming home after work, getting something to eat, then throwing myself in bed, watching TV for a couple of hours without really registering anything on the damned screen, then going to sleep just to wake up the next morning for more of the same shit. I was completely wasted (and still recovering). This had to change, especially since the paychecks were always late and always incomplete (supposedly) because of cash-flow problems.

One more funny thing: after I broke the news of my imminent departure to my employer, his first reaction was “Oh, no. You can’t go, you’re such a valuable employee, I need you. Please let me think of a solution for a couple of days.” I said OK of course, what else could I have done? Especially since my contractual 15 days notice was supposed to end on October 25th. The first e-mail that came in the next day was addressed to everybody — our employer was apologizing for not being able to pay us our salaries in time (again). The next e-mail, this one just for me, was saying, among other things:

[…] Also, would you prefer to leave before Oct. 25, if that were possible? I’m asking, because I don’t need to keep you here that long in order to make the transition, but if you want to stay until that date, I’ll have no problem finding things you could do.

How cool is that? So much for how valuable an employee I was! 😀

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