Getting started

My first day as an IBM employee was April 30, 2001: two years ago today. It’s nice of IBM to commemorate the occasion by bringing me back as a contractor, even if they did miss the correct date slightly. Actually, April 30 was the first day of a two-day orientation class for new employees. My employment did commence on that day, but I did no work whatsoever until May 2. For that matter, I probably spent the rest of my first week obtaining the logins and passwords I would need, getting a phone and a computer installed, and attending various meetings. Which is what I’m doing now, too.
It’s amusing that IBM thought I needed two days of instruction on how to work there, since at that point I already had about four years of experience writing IBM manuals. I started doing that in 1987, when I was an employee of a documentation services vendor that had IBM as its major client. I wasn’t an IBM employee and I didn’t work at IBM, but 100% of my time was spent developing IBM manuals with IBM tools. (In fact, I would go into our computer lab, sit down at a terminal, and log on to one of IBM’s mainframes to do my work. I was “working remotely” before it was cool.) When I left that job in 1988, it was to accept an offer to go out to IBM’s main site in Research Triangle Park and work as a contractor — not employed by IBM, but sitting in an IBM office and using IBM tools to document IBM products. I did about three years of that, in 1988-89 and 1991-92.
So by the time I became an actual IBM employee in 2001, I had already “started work” as a developer of IBM manuals several times. And on none of these occasions did anyone spend two days explaining my job to me. They basically showed me where to sit, gave me some books to read, and left me to figure it out on my own. Which was just fine with me; I learn faster if I can move at my own pace, skip the stuff I already know, and don’t have to listen patiently while other newbies ask dumb questions. Now I’m back as a contractor once again, which means no orientation class. What a relief! If I ever do manage to return to IBM as a direct employee, I hope they won’t make me sit through two days of handholding again. Honestly, folks, I do remember how to do this job.
But Human Resources bureaucrats move in mysterious ways. Before I could start this latest contract job, IBM required my contract agency to hire a security firm to run a background check on me. Of course IBM ran a background check of its own before hiring me two years ago, but I guess they had to be sure I hadn’t committed any new felonies since they laid me off last June.
It seems appropriate that Building 002 — where I went yesterday to have my badge made — has a revolving door. If IBM didn’t have one of those, they would need to install it just for me.

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