Posts Tagged ‘contract work’

The Employment Road: Part II

February 5, 2012

At some point in my life, I realized I picked up the mantra, if it’s an honest job, there is nothing wrong with the work.  I still believe that statement.  I have learned, however, there are lunatics out there for bosses and that when given the chance, run.  I obtained a position with an individual who “sold ideas” (note, I’m still not clear what this means, what idea he sold, or really if we were on the same planet).  His great idea (at the time) was to make a database of all elected officials in the United States listing contact information, term and key issues.  I though the idea was flaky: he was basically making a PAC database and there are only several hundred, if not thousands out there based on a host of criteria.

I never thought I would need to clarify the world all.  I mean, it’s a pretty one-dimensional word:

1 a: the whole amount, quantity, or extent of <needed all the courage they had> <sat up all night> b: as much as possible <spoke in all seriousness>
2 a: every member or individual component of <all men will go> <all five children were present>
When I accepted the position, I roughly calculated the number of political offices nationwide and figured this was 6-8 months of solid work which would give the economy time to right itself.  This guy thought it could be done in a month.  After a week of work (during which we had 3 meetings to discuss the project – he was horrified that I expected to be paid for this since “I bought you coffee”), he didn’t understand why I wasn’t done with Alabama.  Our conversation went something like this:
Employer: I only have so much money budgeted for this project.  How long do you think this is going to take.
Me: 6-8 months depending on how accessible some of the local information is.
Employer:  I don’t have that funding! You need to go faster.  (so typical in project management)
Me: Uh, ok.  But you realize not everybody has a website?
Employer: Who doesn’t have a website?
At this point, I realize Mr.-I-Sell-Ideas is not the most astute person in the world.  After some back and forth, he decided that “all” meant all state houses, governors, and federal office holders and cities.  All cities.  I asked for his definition of the word city (I caught on):
Employer: You know, any town that is called a city.
Me: Do you have a population criteria?
Employer: Look, if it’s called a city I want it listed.
Me: Even the ones of 4,000 people or so?
Employer: There is no city with 4,000 people.
Me: Uh, yes, there are.  All over.
Employer: Not in Massachusetts.

School time

Yes, that is true.  Massachusetts does have population requirements for cities, town, village notations.  Most states do not.  Then we moved onto counties: how some states do not have counties, some states call the counties parishes (like churches? uh, yeah, same word but no, they are not churches. good, I thought that was against the law).  Once I went through about 15 hours of basic government principles including the election/retention/appointment of judges, I thought I could finally start.

I tackled the US House of Representatives first.

I had the list sorted by leadership then alphabetical order.

Employer: Why does it say she (Nancy Pelosi) is from California?

Me: She’s from the 8th District of California.

Employer:  You mean I didn’t vote against her?

Me: No, the Speaker is elected by the majority party in the house.

Employer: Do you think that is fair? I mean, I didn’t get to pick her!

I never tried to explain the President of the Senate concept. I think I’d still be at a Dunkin’ Donuts.  There were more bumps and bruises along the way: Nebraska’s unicarmate no political party legislature, Massachusetts senate seats being designed by parts of counties (Like Suffolk 3,4,5 and not MA Senate 1), Nevada legislature meeting every other year and the damn independents.  He didn’t like independents.  How did we know if they were Republicans or Democrats? And why did Tennessee have the Democrat-Repubican party? Pick one.

And on. And on.

I did get paid, he did go over budget.

A few months ago, he called me back.  I was working a contract and took a pass.  He tried to persuade me.  I gave him an outrageous hourly rate, demanded he withhold taxes, and a list of other insane things.  He wanted me to tell him how long it would take somebody else to do the job.  I said I had no idea.  Not even a clue? Nope.  Well, could I research it?  I figure if you can’t take the information I gave you, do a data/sort/header row/end of term in Excel, well, even my teach people about government streak had been tested.  I saw his position posted again on Cragislist.  I only hope the person who took the job had a lot of free time for sitting at Dunkin’ Donuts teaching somebody about government.

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