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Everything Becomes Obsolete Eventually

, , , , , | Working | August 10, 2021

I just started a new job in a lab and picked up the work quickly. After a few months, I’m introduced to [Coworker], an old guy who has been with the company for decades. I’ve never had much to do with [Coworker]; he does whatever he has to do, away in the corner.

It turns out much of the work in the lab has changed dramatically in the last ten years, and [Coworker] just can’t keep up. They keep him on to work some of the older machines and that’s all he does. [Coworker] is taking a holiday and they ask me to try to learn how to do the basics of his work before he leaves.

It turns out that [Coworker] is a bitter old technophobe. Any discussion or any mention of anything new in the past twenty years is met with derision. He has nothing good to say about anyone or anything. Whenever his PC throws up an error message (by his doing), he complains and mocks “how great modern technology is.”

The training is painfully slow. I sit in silence for most of the week. Eventually, it is over and [Coworker] goes on holiday.

Boss: “If you need any help on [Coworker’s machine], let me know and we can go through it together.”

Me: “Oh, thanks. But I’m finished.”

Boss: “Already? Well, you can make a start on the work pending after your break.”

Me: “I did that, too. I was going to ask, is there much more for today? I can go back to my normal job, otherwise.”

Boss: *Pauses* “No, that was the work for the week.”

Me: “Oh, okay. Slow week, I guess.”

Boss: “Can you show me how you did it? Not that I don’t believe you.”

Me: “Err… sure.”

I show him how I used the machine, just like I was trained. He runs a few through tasks himself and gets the same results.

Boss: “Keep this between you and me, but this work normally takes a full week, and you did it in a few hours. But [Coworker] only has two more months at the company. “

Me: “Okay, I get it.”

[Coworker] came back, and the first thing he asked was if I’d broken the machine; the youth of today don’t listen so he would have to recheck everything. My boss stopped him there and let him know that I had done a great job and would be taking over full-time after he retired.

More negativity and derision.

Thankfully, a few months later, he retired, but not before one last act of pettiness: he took the books and notes for the old machines. Luckily, my notes were more than enough, and the machines were replaced a year later, anyway.

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