I returned to ATB after my holiday back in Australia with reluctance.
I didn't know why I was staying. It certainly wasn't the money. I'd done what I set out to do and if I left then it would be on my own terms. I was starting to miss my family and I wasn't happy with the way things were going between me and Donna.
Not much had changed, but there were more plans afoot. Judd's talk about renting new space in the office tower next door were in fact proceeding: we had a lease and time had been scheduled for Judd and his guys to go in there and wire up up the network. Judd was full of plans to set up a microwave transmitter, aimed out of one of our windows and up to our new office space, so we could have internet while we waited for the cable company to set up our permanent link.
More changes started happening soon. Benjamin, ever discontent, was offered a position leading a team who would create an enterprise version of the consumer product that Ralph and Dennis were building.
This promotion lasted maybe one day. Benjamin went to a meeting where Elvis explained that this new enterprise product was to be delivered in about one month and he decided that they were setting him up to fail. He was back with me on the product he'd loudly deemed unworthy of his skills.
He was right: the one month deadline was utterly ludicrous. He was wrong about the conspiracy, though. Florida was and remains a Right To Work state. Nobody needed to 'set him up to fail'. They could have ejected him any time they wanted.
Benjamin's chess competition with Colin was still underway. Benjamin was still becoming increasingly desperate to make the stats favour him. He would declare certain games invalid. He would declare that Colin "had no honour" because, during the tournament, he would no longer allow Benjamin to take back foolish moves as he had when there were no stakes. I let him play the stats however he wanted. I didn't care.
These games generally took place at Benjamin's desk during lunchtime, or around lunchtime, or sometimes whenever Benjamin felt like it.
Finally, Judd decided that the noise was disrupting and that Benjamin was only allowed to polay chess at lunch time, and then not in the cubicle area. This was the final straw.
The next day Benjamin quit, citing the fact that his freedom to play chess had been removed. I'd pretty much made up my mind to leave as well, by then. I was going to wait a month or two to replenish the money I had spent traveling and then be on my way.
The day after Benjamin left Judd summoned me to a meeting with the CEO of the company. "We're giving you a raise," he said. "Because you're now a team leader."
"Oh? Who else is on my team?"
"Uh, just you."
They told me how much. It was still substantially less than all the new engineers were getting.
I might have taken it, but I'd already decided I was going. "It's not enough."
The President spluttered that I was an ungrateful wretch. "I should fire you right here on the spot!"
I shrugged.I was ready to leave.
"You were always in here, demanding more money... and all the books we bought you... and... "
"That was Benjamin. And you never bought me any books."
"I risked being deported by coming to work before my visa was done, and you guys still screwed me out of the signing bonus that was supposed to make up for my salary for that first month."
"What? Nonsense! Who did such a thing?!"
I shrugged apologetically at Judd. "He did."
The CEO was furious. "Well, how much do you want?"
I knew my product was profitable. It didn't make big money but it more than paid for Benjamin's and my own salary and whatever licensing costs they were paying the defense contractor who wrote the engine. I knew that because Freddy had told me.
I wasn't greedy. I named the same figure all the new guys were getting.
The CEO agreed. He was red with anger by the time I left his office.
I decided I'd stay on a bit longer. Suddenly I was making decent money, and I no longer had to worry about when Benjamin would explode next. At the very least I would wait until I had some pay stubs so I could prove what I was worth to my next prospective employer.
But there were more changes on the way. Our new premises were almost ready and Development was going to be the first group to move across.