Woo began his career at the company the right way. He grew up in a small town in the dustbowl of Eastern Washington, idling his way through high school and all too aware that he was exceptionally smart. It was some kind of American Dream bullshit: Woo was a slacker hacker who became a call center employee, then a call center tech, then a process and scripting guy. His talent was recognized by the company.

Promoted and transferred out of the dustbowl, he woke up one morning to movers untacking his Jimmie Hendrix posters, his papasan chair, and his family’s collection of bongs. Woo moved to the big city, Washington DC, where he came to work in the same NOC I did.

On the surface, it was a great move, but Woo got no cost of living adjustment. He got a three dollar raise from something like eleven dollars an hour, and had to find a roommate who didn’t approve of his Jimmie Hendrix poster, his antique water pipe collection, or the stench of pot. Someone sat down with Woo to train him, concluded that Woo was smarter than him, and stopped training him.

We sent Woo off to swap hard drives and fix servers, and to Woo’s credit, he wasn’t bad at it. But there was something missing from Woo. Maybe it was the give a shit, maybe it was the training - maybe it was the ganja that’d kept Woo copacetic in the beige and cubicles of the company’s call center. Maybe it was the ganja that kept Woo from pulling his weight on our team.

To be fair, we didn’t have the time to train him. Emergencies were boiling out of our queues, new data centers were coming online every other month, and the sheer amount of projects and broken hardware had buried all of us. Half the team was on antidepressants, and the other half was having psychotic breakdowns. It was a shitty kind of team: siloed, angry, and bitterly aware that it was every man for himself.

And Woo wasn’t one of us. Woo sat and complained, and didn’t apply himself to his work. I’ll be frank: Woo was lazy, and he didn’t want the job. He maybe didn’t understand the job and what it required, and he wasn’t hungry for the opportunities, especially after he was slighted with the shitty excuse for pay raise.

We wanted Woo to be like Manny. Woo wasn’t like Manny. Our representative model technician, Manny conned his way out of a cellphone sales stand, lied about knowing Linux, bullshitted all his troubleshooting questions, and somehow ended up programming new kernel patches three months later. He might have slept on a makeshift mattress of shipping blankets, building insulation, and cardboard when he was supposed to be working night shift, but the work got done.

You could bitch, that was the thing. We all did. But we bitched and then we did our jobs. Woo just bitched and got less and less effective. He never got better than he was when he got to the NOC, and all the terrible things that were part and parcel of everyday work ground him down. Little things like the floor collapsing under racks of servers, overheating network rooms, and the occasional fire in the building sapped his motivation. He just couldn’t adapt.

About eight months after Woo was moved to Virginia, he decided to tell a joke about how unhappy he was. It wasn't a very good joke.

Woo made a noose out of CAT-5 networking cable and hung it in the break room. A construction contractor, having snuck into the kitchen to steal the sugar canisters, spotted it and raised hue and cry about lynching jokes.

Woo was gone the next day.

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