Sleeping on the Job - Part Two

Sleeping on the Job - Part two


This is another tale of a time I (John) fell asleep on the job. For previous story, see “Sleeping on the Job - Part One" was brought up to believe that a day's pay should receive a day's work, so these episodes are not something I am proud of, but truth must be told. So, I'll try to relate the story without putting in too much justification!

While I was working in Raleigh for IBM, my manager came to me sometime in 1984 and told me that another manager had asked for my services on a short term assignment. Several years earlier a Japanese competitor had been found guilty of stealing our Network Control Program {NCP} and its sister program; Software Support Program {SSP} (built to customize, load, trace and diagnose NCP). It now appeared that IBM suspected that the same company had stolen the new subsequent release of the programs as well. I was very accomplished in SSP and since my team leader and I were both knowledgable in the program, I could be spared for a couple of months. 

The first time the company had hijacked the code they had been very clumsy and it was obvious, this time however, they had created new code and my job would be to see if they had used our technique and process thereby stealing Intellectual Property. So it was that I reported to the manager in question at an IBM location no one really knew about. It was on the upper floor of a two story building (downstairs were medical offices) and consisted of two side by side hallways. Our hallway was secured by a security code that would only work in conjunction with an approved IBM badge was this was  managed by the IBM legal department and each of us studying the code had a 10 by 12 office with a ten foot door with a key lock (which locked automatically when closed), solid walls and ceiling (no drop ceiling for anyone to crawl over). The office I was assigned to didn't even have a window to the outside, though those on the other side of the hall were on an outer wall and did. My office was right next door to the managers on one side and the break room and two conference rooms on the other. I was the only worker on that side of the hall and due to the nature of the building, it was very quiet. One never knew if your colleagues were even at work. Our system was to knock on a colleague's door once and if there was no answer, go away (the person could still be in there, no way to know).  The same applied to calling, if they didn't answer, send an email.

The team lead showed me how to use the special computer system to access the other company's source code, so I could evaluate it and gave me a unique login and password (they could trace who accessed the code, what parts, and when). He demonstrated how to contact a lawyer if I had something to show them and told me to call his number on the phone if I had questions. We could leave messages on the phone, because the study was intense and most of the guys (me included) had the ringers turned off. He also gave me all the codes to get into the hallway (the back door to the hall used a different code than the front!) and my unique door key which even the manager didn't have a master for.

I need to stop here and switch to another story, which I will tie together for you before I'm finished.

Several months before I received this assignment, I awoke to terrible pain in my lower left side, which I attributed to gas. I tried to go to the bathroom to relieve the pain and was unsuccessful. Finally, I woke Geri and we decided that I need to go to the hospital and we called Michelle next door (what a good neighbor, it was about 3 AM, and she came to stay with the kids with no hesitation!) to stay in the house while we went. At the hospital, it was determined that I had a kidney stone a few millimeters from my bladder. By this time, the pain had gone, due to time and morphine (probably more due to the latter!!).

Of course, I didn't go to see an urologist as the charge nurse had recommended since I had no pain. For about 3 weeks, I was okay, when lo and behold the pain returned. We went through the same process and unfortunately go the same RN who remembered me and told me she didn't have a lot of sympathy because I had failed to see a doctor!! Again, the good drugs and time seemed to correct the problem, but this time I made an appointment to see the urologist.

Eventually, I had to be hospitalized (See the story: "Who are you and what are you doing here?") and have the stone removed.

As part of recovery, I was given Tylenol with Codeine for any pain I might experience and these did the trick. Now, back to the main story.

Just before my final kidney stone attack that put me in the hospital and only a week into my new assignment, I was in the men's room when the manager came in and I jokingly told him that if he came in and found me on the floor, get me to the hospital, it was just a kidney stone! We laughed and that was the last I saw of him for a couple of weeks. I had made sure my regular manager knew I was in the hospital and assumed he would tell the temp assignment manager, though as it turns out that didn't happen.

I returned to work after nearly two weeks off for hospital stay and recovery on a Tuesday (Monday had been a holiday) and as usual, did not see a soul until lunch time when I ate in a small lunch room that was common to both hallways. I had lunch with guy I had met from the other hall (they were working in IBM Sales and had nothing to do with us business wise). He asked me where I had been, etc. and once again tried to get me to tell what we did on our hallway. I always explained that there was a reason for all the security and that I couldn't tell him anything. My manager's door was closed and he didn't answer the knock which usually meant he wasn't there (he normally was the only one with an open door on the entire hall!)

I went back to the office and about 1:30 PM, I felt very drowsy, due to the codeine, lunch, and the two weeks of inactivity. I decided that I would just rest for a couple of minutes to shake the drowsiness. I had three guest chairs (for lawyers if they need to consult), so I pulled them together and laid down on them. I awoke with a start, it was very quiet, even more than normal and I looked at my watch. Five-Thirty!!!! I had been asleep for four hours! The next day, I decided to tell the manager, but he wasn't in again and the day progressed about like the day before except I didn't feel drowsy until about 2:30 PM. I was determined to only take a very short nap, but once again awoke after 5 PM. On Thursday, I managed to stay awake all day and by now no longer needed the Tylenol and had none to take anyway. I still had not seen or spoken to anyone in my group, but had made a lot of headway in my quest to find if the other company had indeed stolen our process.

On Friday, the manager was almost always there, since we had to have our time sheets verified (especially me, since I didn't actually work for his group but was on loan). About 11 AM, I opened my door and saw his was open and went to see him. He told me that he was glad to see me and had called my manager to see if I was still assigned since I hadn't had my time sheets signed for two weeks. He told me it had taken three months of begging to get me and he didn't want to let go just yet. My manager had related that I had been in the hospital and he had then remembered our men's room conversation, so he had quit worried.

I then told him about my naps on Tuesday and Wednesday. At this, he began to laugh and said; "I always suspected that you guys were sleeping behind those locked doors, now I know for sure!"

I finished that assignment about two months later after discovering that the other company had actually used a different process to generate the NCP code and that proving they had stolen intellectual property would be hard. This was true for the Loader, Dumper and Tracer code as well, but that the program that interpreted the Network Trace code appeared to be a copy of ours and need to be investigated by a VTAM (the Network program on a main computer that ran in conjunction with NCP) programmer. Later, I learned that the they had stolen the NCP process and the Network Trace Interpreter and had to pay IBM a fee for every license that they had stolen.    

I never told my real manager about sleeping on the job, he wasn't nearly as laid back as my temporary manager was. The temporary manager wanted to hire me full time, but my real group would not let me go at that time and I never saw any of them again. Not that I saw much of them in the four months I worked there! 

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