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Trust Me

“Welcome to the team!” your new manager exclaims after HR finishes its work with you.

“Here’s your office, your computer, and information about logging in for–”

“Oh, no,” you interrupt. “I have my own computing environment and email already set up. I’ll just use those.”

Your new manager looks startled. “That’s not quite how it works. We’ve invested a lot of time, money, and energy into making our company systems strong and safe to protect our company data. We can’t ensure that data’s safe if we allow it to be saved somewhere else–”

“Oh, no worries. I made sure there was security and confidentiality stuff in the agreement I signed.”

“Could I get a copy for Legal’s review? They’ll need–”

“No, no. Take my word for it. You trusted me enough to hire me, right? It’s okay. Trust me.”

Your manager dabs his forehead, where a thin line of sweat is taking form.

“We also need instant access to the data and emails in case we’re audited or sued. We could get in pretty big trouble if–”

You wave off his concerns with a chuckle. “I’ll get you what you need, if it ever comes to that. Which it won’t. You career manager types always sweat this small stuff. We’ve got bigger fish to fry, am I right?”

Drops of sweat drip into your new manager’s eyes. He’s blinking furiously as he continues to dab his face with tissue. “Um, I have heard that before,” he says with a nervous guffaw. “C’mon, let me show you the break room.”

He breathes a sigh of relief as the conversation moves along with you both.

He hopes for the best.


You’ve settled nicely into your new job.

Your manager calls you for an urgent briefing.

“We’re being sued! We need access to your server as part of preparing our defense. Please arrange with IT to securely transfer everything by end of week.”

“No problemo, boss-man!” you reassure him. “I’ll get stuff over to you soon.”

When he calls you the next week, he’s anxious about the fact you haven’t sent anything over yet.

“I’m working on it,” you reassure him. “It’s okay.”

Two weeks later, you can practically hear the sweat cascading down his face when he says your name over the phone. “There are gaps in what you sent, did you know that? Those gaps can be exploited! We can be fined! We need every–”

“There, there,” you reassure him. “The stuff you don’t see is all personal. Trust me.”

“Personal? You shouldn’t be mixing the work and personal stuff,” he replies, even more alarmed. “Also, the company needs to be determining what’s personal and relevant, not you, bec–”

You don’t even bother stifling a yawn. “Are we done now? I have work to do.” You hang up and resume furiously typing the email you were working on when interrupted.


“I fully support your promotion,” your manager tells you over a cup of coffee, “but Legal’s digging in its heels.” After years of his covering your ass and his own, you’re on good terms.

“What the hell for?” you demand.

“That old server. They’re concerned about the possible exposure of you having higher clearance and a bigger stake in future decisions.”

“It’s because I overrode Janet that one time, I bet,” you muse with narrowed eyes. “How petty.”

Your manager purses his lips. “Now, you’ve done great work. You know I’m on your side, but I do see where they’re coming from.”

You try to interrupt, but he holds up a hand. “When you finally gave us access to your server and we found that half of the emails you deleted were work related … well, I had a hell of a time navigating that set of landmines and getting us out safe afterward. I think that’s still giving people heartburn.”

“Maybe we should send some Pepto-Bismol,” you say with a mirthful glimmer in your eye.

He smiles back. “Just give them a little more time. They’ll come around. And if they don’t?”

“We’ll find folks less divisive. More interested in the greater good.”

“You know it,” he says.

You both sip your coffee in silence.

It’s gonna be great being boss.

This story inspired by, but not based on, events currently in the news.

Categories: politics, Work Tags: ,
  1. August 23, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    No comment.

    • August 23, 2016 at 12:52 pm


      • August 23, 2016 at 12:53 pm

        Would love to read another story like this, but where a hiring manger is trying to pick the best candidate for the job, and the two loudest keep saying they are the only realistic options despite the other people in the waiting room….

  2. August 23, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    Sarcastically clever! The underlying implication is brilliant. No corporate company I ever worked for would EVER allow that to happen.

    • August 24, 2016 at 5:40 am

      Ditto that. I’ve had a lot of conversations with people who are tired of “those damn emails.” As I’ve explored that, I’ve realized that “a server” might as well be “dark matter” to many people who have no experience within IT.

      I wrote this story to highlight that you don’t just accidentally stumble onto your own email domain. You seek it out, sign agreements, and work to get it set up. You normally do this personally, not on a job. Doing it to cover your work with a larger entity (particularly one meant to be in the public service!), to me, is itself an indicator someone wants to do things they specifically don’t want their employer to track; it’s not a single act but a sequence of acts designed to protect not the employer, nor customers (or citizens) but self.

      Once down that path, it’s not actually surprising fully half of emails were not turned over, or that half of those withheld were indeed work related, regardless of any legal standards, company policies or otherwise. That’s the whole point of having everything set up separately, no matter any impropriety: you don’t want others to have access. You want to control the data yourself, whether that’s moral, ethical, or even legal.

      You don’t get there alone, though. You have to get buy-in from others. And that buy-in, if granted (no matter how reluctantly), is itself deeply troubling. It’s a confirmation that, yeah, you can pretty much get away with anything.

      After reading Greenwald’s meticulously researched, articulately presented With Liberty and Justice for Some, I’m not surprised by this result, though I am deeply discomfited by it, and also with how many people casually wave this off as if it isn’t a sign of troubling expectation-setting for what can be expected from a presidency. Establishment elites on both sides of the aisle (or, better put, mingling freely within the aisle) started with small wrongdoings; once they saw they could get the public to wave those off, they were game to test lager waters. And that’s where we’re at now.

      Last week I wrote that I was voting third party. This or next week, I’m going to talk about that Green Party vote, drawing on this story, Greenwald’s books, and especially the innocent blood on Republican and Democrat hands alike due to our arms sales. For someone who wants more peace for more people, I abysmally failed to track how the Democrat party is no longer the party of peace (as most blatantly and chillingly demonstrated by providing more than a billion dollars of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, and planning to send more despite active targeting of civilians and civilian institutions). It hasn’t been for some time, but I couldn’t see it through my own vision of what I believed it to be.

      Every time someone says, “Stein is anti-vaxx!” I want to beat my head against a desk. It would take less than sixty seconds of research to discover that’s not true, that Dr. Jill Stein is a Harvard-trained doctor who herself taught medicine at Harvard after more than two decades practicing, but those sixty seconds of research are just too cumbersome.

      I wish folks would hear a statement like that (or many others like it, smearing third party candidates with the expectation no one will do independent research), fact-check it themselves, and then ask, “Now how did a non-fact like that get disseminated as fact? Who benefits by it?” It’s the latter question that’s critical. The more people who ask that last question, the more people I believe will begin to understand that the two-party system is out to sustain and empower itself … not the people.

      (Wow, did this comment grow into something beyond the couple-sentence reply I envisioned as I started typing! 🙂 )

      • August 24, 2016 at 6:06 am

        I just love your well thought replies to comments made on your posts! Going to read some Greenwald.

    • August 26, 2016 at 5:36 am

      This Washington Post Op-Ed, “The U.S. Department of Clinton,” nails it! I recommend reading the whole post, but the second paragraph and part of the third highlight something that’s (not accidentally) lost in anything but Op-Ed in U.S. MSM right now:

      The Democratic nominee obviously didn’t set up her server with the express purpose of exposing national secrets—that was incidental. She set up the server to keep secret the details of the Clintons’ private life—a life built around an elaborate and sweeping money-raising and self-promoting entity known as the Clinton Foundation.

      Had Secretary Clinton kept the foundation at arm’s length while in office—as obvious ethical standards would have dictated—there would never have been any need for a private server, or even private email.

      Also, per Politico this morning, Clinton used a tool called BleachBit in her quest to completely destroy those … “yoga” emails. Because that’s what you do with damning “yoga” emails.

  3. August 23, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Damn! This was so good. Better than real life events. I need you to finish this. What happens next?

    • August 24, 2016 at 5:41 am

      Thank you! Your words are rolling around in my brain. I’m letting the next steps play out slowly in my brain; though I only envisioned this as a standalone story, I enjoyed writing it so much, I’d love to spend more time with it. 🙂

  4. August 23, 2016 at 3:05 pm


  5. August 23, 2016 at 3:08 pm


  6. August 24, 2016 at 5:06 am

    Entitlement is as entitlement does.

    • August 24, 2016 at 5:47 am

      Exactly so.

      I don’t think most people could imagine having the first part of the conversation with their boss. It takes a profound sense of entitlement to not only have that first conversation, but to keep it going, seeing yourself as above policies and procedures by which others must–reasonably, understandably–abide.

      Having read Greenwald’s With Liberty and Justice for Some, I now recognize this entitlement as being bipartisan among elites. There’s the rules for them, and the rules for us.


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