Dave Starling, IT Manager, realised that he was in a hole. Despite the presence of Barry McGuigan, moron developer, who’s only contribution to the team was to ask questions that nobody wanted to answer, Dave had an issue with his bell end. His curve was very much middle heavy. If his boss, Flux Larson, ever came back from the pub, he could ask him for some advice, but somehow he doubted that would happen soon enough to solve this. There was only one thing for it, Dave needed to hire himself a really bad developer, and fast, as appraisal season was well and truly here, and only an awful people manager didn’t have low performers in their team.
“What?” asked Dave, looking around for the source of the comment and accusing the voice over guy, but it wasn’t me this time.
“You need a shit magnet, for your recruitment woes.” Penelope Crank, mainframe developer, was interrupting Dave’s thoughts.
“How do you know what I’m thinking?”
“Everything is new again. We had the same problems twenty years ago, but without the curvy bell.”
“You don’t ever leave your desk, but you know everything that is going on here, how do you do that?”
“The HR systems still run on the mainframe. I know every time somebody cries or craps themselves.”
“Is that legal?”
“No. But it is undetectable.” Penelope gave a distant contented look, like a seal that had just caught a fish, before continuing, “Shit magnet. That’ll help you. Take Barry McGuigan to the interviews.”
Dave had to admit that Penelope was on to something. If Barry liked the candidate and the candidate liked Barry it was a better indication of the type of person that he wanted to hire than just scoring zero in an aptitude test.
“I’ll do it!” Dave stood up with a new found confidence. “Come on Barry, we have an interview to conduct.”
“A what? Am I getting a new job?”
Barry wasn’t sure why he was in a meeting room with Dave and a funny looking bloke called Trevor Gravel, but he never got invited to anything important, so he was very excited.
Dave asked the first few questions to get things started, but he wasn’t really making any progress.
“Do you know why you are here?”
“Can you spell your name for me so I can write it down.”
Trevor was still taking the Fifth.
“How about you take it from here.” Dave said to Barry McGuigan, confident that he had found the perfect candidate.
“Okay. If you are sure?” said Barry, putting his hands together and stretching them out backwards to crack all of his knuckles in an unsettling way.
Barry leaned in towards his victim and asked, “Why are manhole covers round and how many postmen are there in New York?”
“Fuck off Barry.” Dave found his inner voice surprisingly filling the room. “Sorry, carry on.”
“Manhole covers aren’t round. They are square. Unless you are in an interview for Google, in which case the answer is so that they can’t fall down the hole, which makes not sense because the square ones (the ones that we actually use), are bigger than the hole anyway, so they can’t fall down either.” Trevor was surprisingly coherent, which worried Dave a lot. “Oh, and I don’t think they have postmen in New York any more, if you mean New York City and not New York State.”
Dave was ready to end the interview. Trevor was clearly not what he was looking for, however Barry was on a roll.
“Let me see…” Barry was searching for a good question, “Have you ever set yourself on fire?”
“Deliberately or on purpose?”
“Neither. I meant to do it.”
“Did you die?”
“Once, but that was on a different occasion.”
“Why do they make gas coloured and have a smell?”
“I’m sorry about that, I was nervous answering the previous question.”
Dave had heard enough.
“Okay, you are hired. On the condition that neither of you ever talk to each other again. Or to me.”
“How can he not count?” Dave asked Fiona Foil, Head of HR.
“Two reasons. One, he actually can’t count. He failed the numeracy test. And two, he’s on probation. You can’t hire someone and immediately give him a one rating.”
“She’s right Dave.” Flux Larson, Dave’s (kind of) boss, agreed. “It would herald the end of the known universe if we let this through. Imagine the chaos if that would ensue. Breakdown of all norms. Worse than Brexit, ignoring Global Warming and Donald Trump.”
“Would it be worse than now?”
“Yes. Months and months of planning goes into ensuring you have some twos and ones in your team. If we let everyone just hire a wino come appraisal time, it would seriously drop the standards. Fiona is right. Recently hired ones don’t count.”
Dave looked dejected, “Okay, what are my options?”
Fiona had already had this conversation three times today. “You need to find someone in the team that you can give a two to, without them resigning. What about Penelope Crank, she’s a mainframer. Almost a two by definition.”
Flux looked at Dave and Dave looked at Flux. Without communicating, the message was clear. Who was going to tell her. Both men shook their heads. “Next.”
“Then it has to be Chris Tackle. You need to give him a two.” Fiona stated.
“On what grounds? He’s my best developer. He does the work of five people and nothing he releases ever has a bug in it.”
Fiona’s eyes lit up. “There you go.”
Flux agreed, “Yup. Clearly not a team player. You can give him a five for Delivery but a one for Collaboration and a one for Working with Others. Averages out as a two overall.”
Flux and Fiona high-fived each other while Dave held his head in his hands. Finally looking up he said, “Well at least that is over for another six months. I think I need a shower.”
“Over?” questioned Flux, “Not quite. I still need to do my direct reports and I’m a two short of a beautiful bell curve. Might as well have this conversation while HR are in the room. I’m sorry Dave, but as the most junior manager in my team, I am afraid I have to inform you that you are getting a two rating this year.”
“Oh, for fuck sake. Why promote me and then slap me down?”
“It’s character building. Now, drop your trousers and touch your toes and we can get this appraisal over with in a jiffy. Here Fiona, hold my beer, and don’t take any pictures.”