Weird | Workplace | Project Management | Mistakes

Weird Workplace Stories 17: The Project That Nearly Broke Me

Stress; bad management; backstabbing

Alan (AJ) Autistic Widower
7 min readApr 20, 2022


This is part of a series about my old workplace. I spent 20 years there, after leaving college in the 80s.

Over the years, I noticed my boss often trusted new people more than existing staff. And I was about to experience a prime example of that.

An engineer’s log book overlaid with some extracts, such as to do lists, notes about the motor drive circuit, and flash utility software. There is also a quote from my boss’s wife about a particular employee only being any good once a year, which is mentioned near the end of the article.
My old 1997–1998 log book with a few entries. Photo by the author, Autistic Widower.

It was the summer of 1997, and I’d been employed by John for 11 years.

With about eight people working in an outbuilding at the back of his house, it did not look particularly impressive to visitors. But somehow, we got an order from a large foreign company.

They wanted us to adapt one of our existing printers to their specification, so they could sell it under their own name.

The reality was that we’d have to design a completely new printer — but John couldn’t mention that if he wanted to get the order.

OU Degree

Even before the project started, it had been a stressful year for me. I was working full-time and using my evenings and weekends to do a degree with the Open University.

The OU suggested 60 points per year, so that’s what I did when I began in 1996. But I was impatient, so I doubled it to 120 points in 1997, which pushed me to the limit.

The go-ahead for John’s big order came two weeks before I was due to go away for my summer holiday.

More Staff

John decided the solution was to hire another person to help me with the electronic design work.

On a Friday afternoon, he found someone for us to interview. Afterwards, I told him the candidate was not suitable.

The following Monday, I found that my opinion didn’t count for much — I had a new colleague. John had ignored my advice and hired Gil.

A Stressful Fortnight

In my mind, I’d planned to get started on the electronic design work first thing on that Monday morning. But with my new colleague there, a lot of time was lost.



Alan (AJ) Autistic Widower

Random life stories, opinions, and a dry sense of humour. A 55-year-old former electronics engineer and programmer in England. ☕️