I would really like to start this post with something like “The nightmare is over” based on my last post, but I don’t think it would work out that well. You see, we managed to escape Kuwait! Yeah, I know, that part sounds great, but the circumstances in which we left make for a much worse story. Sure there is the usual parts about my passport being stolen and going through all hell to get a new one re-issued. The problem, of course, is that the process for getting my work visa so that I can continue to do my job there was already started using my old passport. If I have a new passport number, that process had to start over again. This meant that it would be that much harder for me to get on base to do my job. This is just how Kuwait works. It’s stupid and corrupt and they seriously need an overhaul of their government processes. (I can say that now that I am safely in the U.S.)
The other problem we experienced was with our team. Sarah and I were both working on this project, her as a tech writer and me as an engineer. With all of my issues with getting on Base, Sarah was tasked with driving some of the folks who were in the middle of the visa process and couldn’t drive (yet another f’d up thing). This meant that most of her day was spent on base working in the data center with a bunch of guys. Now, we all know how guys usually talk, and for the most part it’s not too bad or usually very tolerable. Sarah is also pretty thick skinned and can dish it out as much as the next guy. But there happened to be one individual who took Misogyny to the next level. Lots of comments about women in the workplace, can’t trust something that bleeds, etc.. This got to be a bit much and it was VERY obvious that Sarah was uncomfortable around him.
We mentioned it to a few folks in an effort to have someone maybe mention to him to stop being a douche. No one did. Finally, after some more comments, I urged her to send an e-mail to our boss back in the states and put it in writing. The response that we got back was about on par, mentioning that an e-mail would go out and they would ask people to behave themselves.
What happened was completely different.
The e-mail went out all right, saying that someone from the company would be coming out to do a sensitivity training and that folks would be coming in on their day off, charging a code to the company, to attend.
The team started freaking out. They instantly jumped on the defensive. Some of them remembered that we mentioned the one individual so they knew what was going on and who was involved. The next morning, what we thought was going to be the typical morning meeting was dead silence and awkwardness. When the meeting was over, I went upstairs and Sarah went to drive folks in. Only they had gathered up in a group and were discussing something in private. When Sarah asked if they were leaving the comment “We need to prove this isn’t a hostile environment” was made and the group, sans the accused, went to a different car and drove off. This left Sarah to drive in the guy she accused……alone.
Trapped in a car for an hour, he spurted out a half-hearted apology that was more of a “I’m sorry that you got mad” as opposed to the “I’m sorry for what I did” and then tossed it back in her face saying she should have said something to him and that it was her fault.
Upon arriving at the base, feeling sick and stressed, Sarah came back to the apartment and we made the decision to head home. I was only a few days away from getting my Passport back and she needed hers back from our sponsor. The next few days were pretty rough. We had told the bosses what happened and they seemed ok with us heading out. The team, seeing me as an extension of this “issue” shut me out. I could hardly talk to any of them and had to funnel everything through our team lead, who actually was the nicest of the bunch and helped us out. It was very clear that we were being shunned.
Here is where things get (more) wacky. We spoke to our bosses back in the states. We knew that contract work can be tough and that the company can only put so many people on any given contract. They mentioned that there may not be something for us, but there was some things in the hopper that could become available. Even better, as we got closer to returning, we were told that there was another Data center move down in NC that we would be working on.
Things looked ok, we were leaving the hostile environment, we still had work, and we felt much better.
Then we got home.
Turns out the NC move got delayed and we went into a meeting with one of the company bosses. They were giving us a 30 day employment window but they had no work for us. While there were two contracts that could be won soon, they didn’t have any guarantee, so our expected termination date was July 12th. Originally, they explained that they really expected to win these contracts within the next two weeks and that we should “Keep checking our e-mail” to hear word, but that we didn’t need to come into the office and we may want to start looking.
I took it as it was presented and was hopeful for upcoming work. Then I got home to find that my work e-mail had been disabled. The next morning, the termination letter was in my g-mail inbox (still reading July 12th). This sounded a lot less like “Wait and see” and a whole lot like “You need to leave”.
I mentioned to them that it was kind of fishy that we were asked to leave so soon after filing a complaint against someone. The response was that we were warned that there may not be work, and that we came back voluntarily. I hardly call escaping such a hostile environment as a volunteer move.
So here we are now. I am looking for new work, as it seems that even if the company does win something, I doubt my phone will ring. We managed to stock a lot away in savings so we are fine until something comes along, which hopefully will be soon.
I have had a lot of people tell me that I need to “Lawyer up” and get all I can out of this. To be honest. I just want to move on. We both do. We are home and safe, no one was hurt (much), and we just want to move on with our lives. The folks that work in the company aren’t bad people, they are just doing what makes the most business sense. The folks on the team have to live with the type of people they are. It’s not worth to effort to cause trouble and burn bridges.
So, anyone know of a place that’s hiring?