After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going. This is the thirty eighth letter I wrote.
06/07/02 – Team builder at Dell
Dear Friends at Sooner, and Toby (not at Sooner) and the I & C escapees,
I hope all is going well with everyone this week. I have been in Training most of the week. This afternoon we are taking off a half day to do a “Team-builder”. Our team is going to our manager’s house to “Team-build” in the back yard by her pool.
We are supposed to drink beer and do some other sorts of team building activities. This sounds like fun, but when you read between the lines, this could be a nerve racking, hair-raising experience.
First of all. We have to drive clear across Austin to the “Wealthier” part of town. Then when it is over, I have to drive all the way back to “my” side of town. — That in itself is a test of stress endurance and disaster planning.
A person attempting this feat will want to take the route that takes them past the most hospitals, and down the highways that have the most tow trucks stationed along the route. That way, if the stress causes the driver to go into cardiac arrest, the tow truck will be close by, and the ambulance won’t have too far to travel.
This makes me think of the “Green Acres” song. “Green Acres is the place to be. Farm living is the life for me. Land spreadin’ out so far and wide. Forget Manhattan, just give me that countryside.”
Anyway. Sorry for the transgression. The second hair-raising, nerve tingling activity that we will have to perform during our team building activity is that our Manager has given us a questionnaire to fill out. I have watched our team members merrily typing out the answers to their questionnaires on their computers, humming along as they gleefully typed their answers. — I, on the other hand, have struggled and stressed over exactly how to answer these devious, dubious and probing questions.
You see, there are questions like: What is an Interesting event in your life? — What can I say to that? For 18 years I was an electrician at Sooner Plant. I have had so many Interesting, life changing events during that time, how can I just choose one?
My first thoughts were, “How about the time that Richard Moravek and I got shocked in the elevator? Or the time I got shocked in the T/R cabinet? Or the time I got shocked looking for a ground? Or when I was shocked by the vacuum line under the precipitator hoppers?” All those were interesting events.
Note to Reader: For more information about Richard Moravek, or being shocked, see this post: Prolonged Power Plant Pause Before the Panic.
Then I thought, “hmmmm”, it was pretty interesting when I told Jim Arnold that ‘He may be stupid, but I’m not.’ and it was pretty interesting when I asked Jasper Christensen if the Outlet side of the Hot end of the Air preheater could be hotter than the gases that were exiting the air heater, and he said he couldn’t say that.” That was pretty interesting.
It was also interesting when I printed out a questionnaire on every printer in the company (including all the billing and check writing printers) and when James Harlow (the company president) called Ron Kilman to ask him who Kevin Breazile was and why did he do that, Ron Kilman didn’t know what to say. — That was pretty interesting. — Especially after a beet-red-faced Tom Gibson told me never to do that again. Then there was…….. well, you can see my dilemma. So many interesting events.
Note to Reader: To read more about printing out a questionnaire on all of the printers in the company read this post: Power Plant Customer Service Team Gone Wild.
Then there is the question: “Most serious infraction of the rules.” First I thought, “Me? Infraction of rules? Never!!!!” Then I remembered, “Oh yeah”. I suppose there was the “Birthday Phantom”. That was kind of an infraction since the I/T department downtown spent weeks doing nothing but trying to track that down.
Note to Reader: To read more about the Birthday Phantom see this post: Power Plant Birthday Phantom.
Then there was the time when I changed the SAP logo to be a whirlpool instead of a ripple and it was sucking some unfortunate Business Support Supervisor down into it. — Some (who lack a little bit of a sense of humor) might think that was an infraction.
Note to Reader: To read more about the Supervisor being sucked down into a whirlpool, see this post: Hitting the Power Plant HR Cardboard Ceiling.
Then, of course, there was the above mentioned Printer thing. — I knew something was going to happen when the mail room upstairs was stacked full of replies to my questionnaire, and some of the responses were less than cordial. — I think Jim Harlow thought that was an infraction.
Then there was the time I messed up the precipitator when I wasn’t even at the plant, but Jim Arnold needed someone to blame. Bill Green still thinks that was an infraction.
What does my manager want?!?!? — A novel? She needs to ask more specific questions than this. Something like: “What was your most serious infraction the first week of April in 1999?” — At least that would narrow it down!!!!
Then there is the “Trick” question. It is: “What is your biggest pet peeve about Management at Dell?” I know what I’m supposed to say to that question. The obvious answer is: “Management at Dell is so nice they make me want to Puke!!! Where is all the slave driving? Where is all the ‘Because I told you so’s?’ How can anyone manage if they aren’t going to tell you how to do every little detail of your job?”
Then there is the question: “Interesting people you know” I wrote down Bud Schoonover and Walt Oswalt. Need I say more?
I miss all of you. I wish I could be there, but for now, I have to go drink some beer by the pool.
Talk to you later,
Kevin James Anthony Breazile
Kevin J. Breazile
Customer Experience / Warranty Cost
Dell Computer Corporation