be careful what you wish for…

So, recently been writing on here about not being sure how I’ll be dealing with this commute long-term… and the answer is… I won’t.

On Monday, after preparing a little cheat sheet about my past roles at InfoWorld and Macromedia to read at my first all-hands meeting at 10 a.m., my boss called me out before it started. I follow him upstairs and a HR rep is waiting in the room. I figure this is related to our discussion about commuting on Friday, HR showing I signed paperwork knowing the job was in Palo Alto, blahblahblah. Seemed a bit formal, but whatever.

And, of course, bringing up the commute early was an attempt to resolve it. Given the choice, sure, I’d’ve pulled for the SF office. But if that wasn’t on the table, I’d figure out how to make Palo Alto work.

In any event, that was my last day at the company. All because of a "discrepancy" that turned up on my background check. So, 10 a.m. and I’m sitting there waiting for the meeting, ten minutes later, I’m being escorted out the side door by HR and literally waiting on the curb for a bus that may or may not even be coming (Jeremy hadn’t made it to work yet, so he ended up rescuing me and depositing me at the train station).

Report1

So, what was the discrepancy? That would be the first question most people would have, especially if you’re getting fired for it.

My only thought is it has to be identity theft, because there is nothing in my background that would lead to this result.

I mean, the HR guy seems uncomfortable the whole time. My boss isn’t even looking at me. What is in this report?

It takes about 26 hours before I finally get to see the background check myself, after numerous e-mails, and setting up my Mac to receive faxes (which it did superbly). And I quickly read through the report as soon as the PDF appears on my desktop.

I read it again, thinking I missed something. No criminal background, which is what all my friends were expecting, that my report got crosslinked with someone else, or my years covering the criminal justice system somehow got my name linked to a crime I wrote about but didn’t commit.

Nope, my criminal background is non-existent, as expected. My social security records also pan out, so I’m able to work here, and all that stuff.

The only discrepancy is with my previous employment. My employer submitted the paperwork I sent them to the background check service, and the big discrepancy was:

On my resume, I say I worked at Macromedia from 1999 to 2005.

In reality, I worked at Macromedia from 1999 to 2004.

That’s it. As soon as I heard it, I was relieved, imagining a life of navigating bureaucratic channels to convince people that I did not jump bail to avoid persecution as a colombian drug mule. This was amusing, because I’ve always had a mental hiccup about this. I know that Jeremy has even corrected me in public when I mentioned leaving Macromedia in 2005.

Because when I left Macromedia in November 2004, it was in the third quarter of fiscal year 2005. So, a lot of the stuff I edited always said 2005 all over it. So, I have always been unable to detach the calendar year from the fiscal year, and now, it looks like I even put that on my resume.

So I dash off a quick e-mail to HR and my former boss, explaining how that occurred, adding in that no hard feelings and, as far as I’m concerned, this can just be an amusing anecdote about when I started working there. I don’t think this has any repercussions.

Report2

I mean, I know for a fact that Macromedia (now Adobe) would ONLY confirm that I was employed there, my job title, and the dates. If I wanted to embellish a resume, why would I do it on the one part I know will get a response? That said, I didn’t embellish my resume at all to begin with.

I give it a few hours, giving them time to realize what happened or something, then toward end of day after 4 p.m., I call the HR guy, but quickly get legalese responses. We were legally required to send you a background check but are not able to discuss the … etc., etc.

I finally ask him if I should take this to mean that my days there are no more, there is no chance I’m returning, and their message is to call the whole thing over and look for another job. I finally break through the legalese and get that confirmed. So, that job is over…

Of course, it does bring up the question: what was the real reason?

If they were as pleased with my work as they seemed to be, this sort of thing would be easily corrected and that would be that. So, something happened and this discrepancy gave them good standing to call the whole thing off.

Some people have suggested the commute issue was raised too soon, but I honestly don’t think that’s it, seeing as the entire goal was to resolve the commute ASAP so as not to let it build to the point where it affected the job. If my working at the San Francisco office was not a possibility, and I still liked the job as much as it seemed I would, then I would have looked into getting a car, or moving down the peninsula, who knows…

The thing was never that if I couldn’t work in San Francisco, I would leave the job. That just seemed the most obvious resolution, given they have an office near where I live, etc.

Other people question whether it is the "gay thing," but Oasis was on my resume if I recall properly, and I can’t imagine this would be the kind of place that cares about that.

Some people just fear the whole blog/journaling thing is TMI for employers and, given my level of disclosure, there’s way too many options as to what they could have a problem with. But I’ve never said the name of the company where I was working on here. Even now, when I could, I haven’t. I’ve been in worlds of NDAs, and knowing what products were coming out at Macromedia months in advance, messed-up behind the scenes stuff, etc., etc., and none of that has ever appeared on my blog. It’s jeffwalsh.com, it’s all about me here, really.

Of course, the overall feeling I have is… I’d rather companies get wiggy sooner rather than later. So, if they don’t want me, better dump me quickly, because once that negative energy is in place, it will  just build and push me out eventually anyway.

It’s just going to be one of those things about which you never know the real answer. Just one of those things. Just edit the resume, so the date on Macromedia is changed from 2005 to 2004, and start sending it out again.

I did say I couldn’t see myself doing more than three weeks of that commute. I guess I was right.

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5 Responses to be careful what you wish for…

  1. Anonymous says:

    *shakes head*

    Lord, my condolences, how frustrating. Though you seem to be taking it well, good on you. Best of luck returning to the want-ads, we’ll see about that lunch another time.

    Fare thee well, my friend.

  2. Beibei says:

    OMG!! That’s ridiculous!! Firing you for such a trivial matter… And not having the guts to talk to you about the reason… That’s corporate america for you! Thise stupid so called ‘company policies’. WHATEVER.

  3. Jason Krech says:

    If I make you my bottom slave boy for the evening, would that take the pain away?

    Seriously — very sorry about this. But as soon as one door closes, another tends to open.

  4. Mark Strzepek says:

    That sucks! At least you didn’t move halfway across the country to take that job….like a famous cousin of yours. It does seem odd that a simple date error would lead to your firing. Maybe there is something more or perhaps they are REALLY anal about accuracy. ;-/

    I’m sure you’ll find something else soon.

    Talk to you soon, I’m sure.

  5. Jo Peach says:

    I’m still floored Jeffy. It’s just so stupid that they would fire a person they were pleased with for something like this. Bon courage, mon ami.

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