Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rick's Last Day

The conference call had gone on for forty-five minutes or so. Rick sat in his office, swiveling slightly, holding the phone lazily an inch or two from his ear. Marty and Joanne were prattling on.

"Great idea, Marty. I'll take that as an action item."

"Thanks Jo. And when the RFP is ready for review, let's circulate it to everyone on the call."

"Will do."

"I'd like to get the dev team in on the ground floor. Maybe we can schedule an offsite with them?"

"I can reach out to Adesh and set up a date and location," Amy volunteered.

Rick didn't think that was such a good idea.

"Hey, everyone–"

"That's great, Amy," said Joanne.

"Hey, hey, hello, hey–"

"Can you get the testing department to attend as well?" Marty added.

No, no.

"Hey, hey! Hold on a second. This is Rick."

"I sure can try!" Amy said with exaggerated alacrity. Everybody chuckled.

"Guys! Listen to me! It's Rick!"

"Seriously, I will loop in Hui's team. Good idea, Marty."

"Hey, yo! Time out! Time out!"

"Great, great. Moving right along," said Marty with a happy sigh.

Why are they ignoring me? thought Rick. Sure, he was a troublemaker. He knew they saw him as the grouchy naysayer, the one with the bad attitude. But how many times had he saved their asses as the voice of reason? He had a right to be heard.

Rick was on his feet now, pressing the receiver into the side of his head.

"Hey! Listen! Hey! Listen! Listen!" he barked, trembling. "Listen to me!"

"Jo, any final thoughts? Anybody have any questions for Jo? Or for me?"

Rick supposed his tone of voice had caused Marty and the others to pretend they didn't hear him. He took a breath to compose himself and tried a different angle.

"Marty, if I may. I do have a question. If I could jus–"

"No one? No one?"

Rick felt like the floor was gone below him and the sky had fallen on his head. He really was a ghost. Somehow, no one heard him anymore. He placed the phone down on his desk and, still shaking, composed a brief resignation e-mail:

I know you all think I'm a fucking asshole. Well, maybe I am. But I'm not a fucking moron. You will all regret not listening to me, and that's a promise. Go have your stupid, fucking offsite meeting and waste everybody's time, and this company's dwindling money. I worked so hard on this project that it breaks my heart to leave. But apparently I have to. I can't stay and watch it get fucked up like this.



Rick put his boss, Marty, on the to line and cc'd all nine participants in the call. He added Adesh and Hui and some notables from sales, and clicked "Send." Then he packed his few belongings in his backpack: the picture of his dog, the Mets pennant, the coffee mugs. He walked out forever without even bothering to hang up the phone, which still burbled with the voices on the call:

"You know what, we'd better run this past Rick," declared Joanne.

"Absolutely, Jo. Rick, you're so good at keeping us in check. What do you think?"


"Rick? Rick, you with us?"

"Earth to Rick," said Joanne. People laughed a little.

"Last call for Rick," said Marty. "OK, No Rick."

"I bet he has us on mute," said Joanne.

"I bet you're right," said Marty. "I'll shoot him an e-mail."