Saturday, May 22, 2004
I'm not saying that you should start your first day unemployed with a hangover, just that it's what I did. Not that I'm alone; there was a lot of drinking at the Place last night, as a bunch of people from the office who had their last day yesterday got together for one last blast. Hey, when the company's paying, that's what you do.
I thought at first that I really shouldn't be there, because if not for me, these people might still have jobs. I know this whole thing isn't actually my fault, and that I'm even more of a victim than anyone else whose memories don't match their bodies, but it's my name people heard when the announcement was made on Monday. Sure, they heard Carter's and Dmitri's, but "Carter" is dead and Dmitri will, I'm told, plead guilty to a number of charges in Federal Court this Monday. The FBI guys say I don't have to be there, but, hell, what else do I have to do with my time?
When one of the dot-coms I worked for went under, the owner was quite disappointed that the first lay-off "party" had a higher check from the kitchen than from the bar. That wasn't the case last night; we're all a little more realistic about the chances of finding new work quickly than we were then. There were also a bunch of sports fans, and it got more than a bit noisy with the Red Sox game on a whole bunch of TVs. I think the Sox won, but it was back-and-forth. I was, you might say, somewhat intoxicated. It's a good thing Maureen wasn't drinking much, since she was able to load me into a cab and send me home.
So, I felt like shit when I woke up. Carter had let me take the bed, but I had a splitting headache, dry mouth, all that stuff. Nothing like waking up, feeling like crap, and having what looks like an eighteen-year-old kid shaking her head disapprovingly. Carter said I must know my capacity by now - he's still amazed how buzzed his little body can get on a single beer, not that he can buy it any more - and I said, yeah, I do, but last night was a good excuse for overdoing it a little. He didn't agree, but he didn't argue, either. He asked if I let anything slip last night. I said, no, keeping that stuff secret is pretty much second nature by now. But... "Oh, god, there was kissing."
Who? I couldn't remember, just that it was awkward. I think Erik, Marcello, Mark, Kate, Janet, Ernie, Mr. Kraft and a couple of others were there. Hopefully it doesn't matter; we probably won't see many of those folks again.
Anyway, once he was sure I wasn't sick or anything, Carter went for a run. I took that opportunity to call the Haskinses, telling them that "Samantha" was applying for a few jobs but had lost her list of employer references. So, I was able to get information from them about Samantha's summer jobs and such; Carter was annoyed that I involved his body's parents, but didn't rip the information up. We'll be going around applying for jobs tomorrow, trying to find something to get the rent paid while we work on being able to get real IT jobs, somehow.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Working for a company you know is going out of business is a soul-draining experience. You try to go on like nothing is different, being professional, and then as soon as you think no-one is looking or listening, you're searching Monster or making calls, and overhearing the other people who think you can't hear them doing the same thing. My personal favorite is the people who stick their heads out of the cubicle, confirm everything's quiet, and then print off five or ten copies of their respective resumés, quickly dashing to the network printer and grabbing them before someone can realize what they're doing.
My job in Seattle, which Andrei took, was for $55,000 a year. All these receptionist jobs I'm finding on Monster are in the $30K/year-or-under range. I wonder if I can sue BioSoft or Dmitri or someone for loss of income, although it's not like they have any money. Well, maybe Dmitri does. I asked Agent Jones about it, after everyone else had left for the night (the attitude toward the FBI Agents has gotten overtly hostile since the announcement, and I'm not sure it'd be good for me these last couple days to be seen talking to them), and he says that he likely must have gotten well-paid for his industrial espionage and bringing Mikhail's mind into the country, but they haven't tracked it down yet. Not that I'd be able to get my hands on it; the government would seize it well before I could sue him for it.
I talked to Mr. Kraft about this, and he suggested that BioSoft might pay for me and Carter to take some MS certification tests. It won't be much help in putting experience or a college degree on "my" resumé, and actual training for a class in C# or .NET would be an expense the lawyers for the firms suing the company would raise their eyebrows at, but it's something.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
You say you're going to stay friends
Just because you're not going to be working together any more shouldn't mean you don't hang out. And that's always the intention; we made that promise at both of the dot-coms I worked at. The last one talked about doing a Christmas party; maybe they did. I hope so; it was a good group.
So, that's part of the reason Kate and I met up with Jen for another girls' movie night. We hadn't had one in a while, and we just wanted to make sure we didn't start drifting apart right away. Kate and I headed to Copley Square after work, where Jen was already sitting outside the theater, reading a bridal magazine. I asked if they'd set a date, and she said no, though they were looking at sometime in the fall. Carlos has a fair amount of family out west, working-class folks, so they'd like to put it far enough out that they can line up vacation time and get good deals on airplane tickets. She said to trust her, that when they'd set a date, we'd know, because there would be planning and bridesmaid dresses and all sorts of things.
Not sure I like the sound of that. I'm okay with my body, but helping someone shop for a wedding dress seems girly and feminine in an entirely different way than simply having sex. I admit, this whole girly thing is insidious; for a while it just seems like protective camoflage, or looking in the mirror and thinking "she" would look sexy with red lipstick on, but continuing to do it long after I'd stopped arousing myself that way. Eventually, it doesn't seem like such a big deal that I started to have opinions on things like shoes. Then Carter moves in and is adamantly against such things, and looks at me like I've been brainwashed. Makes me wonder just how female I've gotten over the past year, mentally as well as physically. I mean, I'm not painting my toenails or feeling jealous of that ring Jen's wearing, but that could start happening and I'd never know it.
Anyway, we saw The Ladykillers. Not bad, but not the Coens' best. It was fun to see Tom Hanks cutting loose, though. We all promised that even if the rest of the company didn't, we would keep in touch and hang out. Jen and Kate already planned a double-date thing for this weekend, telling me I'd have to find a boyfriend so that I could join them on that sort of thing. Kate asked about Doug, and I said we're not really at that stage, if we're even heading in that direction. I told them it would be kind of a nice novelty to have a close male friend I wasn't sleeping with.
That's another thing that makes me wonder - is this body/brain even capable of that? As Martin, Wei and I were friends without any romantic thing going on, so how come that hasn't been the case as Michelle? You'd think it would be even easier with mostly male life-experience, but it's not. I asked Carter what he thought about that when I got home, and he said it's probably just a matter of trying harder. I sort of think there might be something deeper, that I had sex with a former platonic male friend so soon after the switch, but I figure psychoanalyzing myself without a license would probably get me in trouble.
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Looking for work
I hate it. I remember that I used to have friends who were constantly looking for work even while they were gainfully employed, always looking for a better opportunity, especially when we were fresh out of college. They said it was like with sharks, where you've got to be swimming forward constantly or die. They weren't interviewing constantly, but there was always a chance for one. Me, I'm more likely to wait until any severance pay I've got is half-used up before doing much more than updating my resumé.
Not this time, though. Heck, right now, I'm just trying to reconstruct a resumé. Alexei, in what I presume was an effort to keep me from finding out too much about Michelle's past, deleted it from Michelle's home PC, and off the network at BioSoft. I've been trying to get HR to cough up a paper copy, but they're busy working on severence packages and the like. Digging up my resumé is a low priority, but they say they'll do it by the end of the week.
I really don't want to use Michelle's resumé, but I can't exactly use mine. Can you imagine what happens if someone tries to call one of my references or previous employers? Disaster. And it ticks me off; I could accept being a receptionist when I thought snooping around BioSoft might be useful, but now I'm just thinking about the four years of college and six years of work after that which are basically going to waste now.
And Carter... I basically told him that I wasn't likely to find a job that paid as well as what I had at BioSoft on short notice, so I'd really appreciate it if he started looking so that we could make June's rent. But what's Samantha got? She worked for cash selling T-shirts on the Common last summer/fall, but Carter doesn't know who she worked for. She probably had some sort of summer or after-school job, but has no documentation. Calling the Haskinses is evidently out of the question. Sure, it would sound odd asking what "your" employment history was, but it would really help in terms of filling out a job application.
But Carter doesn't want anything to do with Samantha's family. I get it, he doesn't want to feel like he's deceiving them by acting differently than their daughter, while at the same time he doesn't want to hurt them by telling them what really happened to Sam. So what'll probably happen is that I'll call them.
That's not the real problem, though. The real problem is, obviously, that this means admitting that he's not in control of his future. Carter's resumé is better than mine, what with that military service and other experience, but he can't touch it. He's basically looking at retail, and he worked way too hard to be reduced to that. Plus, if he goes out and gets a job that Carter wouldn't have given a second thought but which is what Sam would have had to settle for, it means it's permanent. He knows it is intellectually, but this is having an everyday life as Samantha. And he's seen what having an everyday life as Michelle has done for me. He's probably already envisioning nametags, and a co-worker flirting with him, and just having to be Sam eight hours a day. Right now, he can be Carter around me and Maggie, and that's really all he has contact with. Not so once you're out working.
But we're going to need the money, and when I told him he needed to find work, it sort of hit him that he'd been living off me for the past month. I don't mind at all, but I think he feels guilty, and he knows that wasn't going to last forever.
Monday, May 17, 2004
I should have seen this coming
I really should have seen it miles away. I mean, it was bloody inevitable, but I, of all people, assumed some things would stay constant like a fool.
At one o'clock this afternoon, everybody got called into the lobby for a meeting. What Mr. Kraft had to say was brief and to the point, and we all knew part of it, but we didn't expect it to be so drastic. Basically, he started out by mentioning how we all must know by now that Dmitri shooting Carter was not just a crime of passion, otherwise the FBI wouldn't have gotten involved. In point of fact, Dmitri had for at least a year, been selling confidential information on several projects BioSoft was consulting on to a currently-unknown third party, which had allowed them to develop certain formulations. Dmitri had then tested them on several unsuspecting individuals, he said, including his girlfriend Samantha, his comatose father, and "our own Michelle Garber".
Everyone gasps. Mr. K continues to mention that the effects of this experimentation are not immediately obvious but will have long-term ramifications, and that while the FBI has requested the exact nature of it remain quiet, he assured everyone that it was nothing contagious, and that I was completely safe to be around. Luckily, the folks working here aren't prone to panic.
Now - the new and predictable stuff. The owners of the projects Dmitri stole would be suing him for breaking his non-disclosure agreement, the company for the same, as well as for apparently not having sufficient security to prevent this from happening. BioSoft's attorneys have basically informed them that there's no way they can fight it without bankrupting the company.
That, of course, was assuming a stable source of income, or that the company wasn't already carrying an operating debt. But word of Dmitri's security breach has gotten around the scientific community, and nearly every client that can is voiding their contracts with BioSoft. These cases, the company could probably win, but combined with the likely crippling settlement necessary with Dmitri's clients and the lack of new work coming in or payment for existing work will inevitably leave the company in a hole that it can not likely escape. So, over the course of the next few months, BioSoft will be dissolved. Most salaried employees will be paid through the end of the month, and some will remain on staff longer to complete the projects that are still active, but by the end of June, BioSoft will likely be nothing but a memory.
I'll be staying on through the end of the week. Kate will probably be around until the end of next week, and Maureen probably until the end. Jen's last day is tomorrow. This is happening faster than the last dot-com I worked at as Martin Hartle collapsed.
Sunday, May 16, 2004
Yesterday was nice enough to go sit by the river again, and I got out the bikini. Carter laughed when I came out of the bathroom and asked how I looked; he just kept going on and on about how there were polka dots and how no real girl actually owned a polka-dot bikini. Aside from that, he said, I looked hot, but he couldn't see sitting next to me if I was going to dress like that. I told him I'd get a new one if he let me buy one for him, too, and got told not to be mean. Well, it was worth a shot.
I called Mags, asked what she was doing, saying Carter and I were going to go down to Harvard Square and hang out, and we hadn't had much chance to spend time with her lately. She was free, so I told her we'd be going to the Million Year Picnic to pick out some reading material before hitting the river.
We met there, and I picked up some comics that had built up over the past couple weeks. She picked up "Orbiter" in paperback, asking me if it was any good. I said it was great, that I actually have the hardcover... "I had the hardcover. Before."
The three of us were quiet for a moment, and then Mags said she'd take that as a recommendation. We paid for our stuff, then headed down JFK Street to find a spot by the river. Once we'd laid our towels down, Maggie and I took off our T-shirts and skirts. She had a plain black bikini on, and giggled when she saw mine. "That really was you! Oh my god! Carter, did she tell you the story about trying to make me jealous?"
"Uh...yeah." He watched as we got down on our stomachs, probably feeling curiously overdressed. We split the comics, and about halfway through the first one he put it down and looked at us. "I don't get it. How can the two of you be so cool about it?" Maggie asked him about what, and Carter said this, this whole thing. "He was your boyfriend, and now he's like this, and you know about it, and you act like it's no big deal! How does it not drive you crazy?"
Maggie put her book down, turned over, and sat up. "Honey, you've got to understand, Martin and I loved each other. A lot. I thought for sure he and I would get married--"
"Quiet, I'm telling my story. You can get to your version later. Anyway, we broke up because my period was late and he freaked out when I told him. It was your standard 'it's the girl's responsibility and now my life will be ruined' scene."
"So you figure this is payback?"
"No, Carter. Well, maybe a little. But mostly, it's that not only did I love Martin, I really liked him, but when we broke up, there was just so much anger... And then, months later, I find out about Marti here, and I can just be friends with her. The part of our relationship that turned bad is just gone." Maggie watched while Carter digested it, then finished with "plus, in case you haven't noticed, I'm a total nerdette, and this whole body switching thing is pretty damn cool to see from one step away."
I looked at her. "And you were so close to not pissing him off."
"I'm not pissed!" He looked at me. "Is that how it is between you and me."
"A little. The guy in your body... he violated me, and sometimes, even though I know when it stopped being you and started being him, well, I like not having that baggage with you."
Carter digested that, and then stood up. "I think I'm going to go for a run."
It was mostly a chance to not continue the conversation, but no matter. He did some stretches and then took off down Memorial Drive. After he got a ways away, Maggie turned to me. "Did you see her stretching? Was she that limber as a guy?"
I smiled. "Oh, yeah."
"You lucky... Well, not anymore. But you won't have trouble finding someone else with that body."
I didn't mention Doug. "Hey, you're looking pretty good, too."
She'd evidently joined a gym, cut some carbs out of her diet, done a few other little things. There was a guy at work, but he got her all flustered. "And then I start babbling, and I realize I'm babbling, and I say I'm babbling, but then he doesn't do that thing that you always did, saying that you wouldn't be hanging out with me if you weren't interested in what I thought. I really loved that about you." She blushed. "God, no matter what I told Carter, saying stuff like that is awkward."
I told her we were entitled to feel awkward. And that I wanter her, if I ever said "I'm babbling" to a guy, to smack me upside the head.
By the time Carter got back, we were ready to get moving again. Maggie was meeting some other friends for dinner, but after she and I had covered back up she hugged Carter and me and said we'd have to do this some more.
Carter looked at his watch and asked what now, and I figured that as long as I had an extra pair of hands, we might as well go grocery shopping. After all, the cupboards are nearly bare and I'm buying twice as much as I used to, so he might as well help me lug it home.
Truth be told, I'm buying more than twice as much. Carter can eat. As we loaded up the cart at Star Market, I told him he didn't have to eat as much as before, and he said that that's what he thought, and he'd done the math comparing his old body weight to his new one, and trying to scale back still left him hungry. Part of it was probably that he'd been underfed for a couple months, but maybe it was just habit. I told him he'd better keep working out if he wanted to keep Sam's figure.
He said he knew that, then demolished half a pizza when we got back home.