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The Rumor Heard Around the World

Several years ago the company I was working for at the time spun up a new “startup-like” project. This new project had a code name which is not important to the story; let’s call it Project Bob.

In order to set Project Bob up for maximum success, some of the best engineers were asked to transfer. For a while, this poaching was a major point of contention between this new project and the normal, boring projects which were bringing in all the money for the company. This was especially so on my team when the lead developer decided to leave our team and join Project Bob.

As the team was regrouping, a co-worker and friend of mine (let’s call him Sid, since that’s his name) heard a rumor that another unspecified team member might be leaving soon. Sid deeply loves gossip and rumors, so it’s not surprising that this tidbit would fall into his lap.

He naturally assumed that this departing co-worker would be leaving to go join Project Bob. He also charitably (and, as it turns out, falsely) assumed that it would be me. But he realized that office morale would suffer if people heard of another impending departure. To meet his need for gossip but also not further damage morale in North Carolina, he spread the rumor to the team in Bangalore, India. It seems this rumor spread pretty quickly among the folks there who knew me, to the point where it was relatively common knowledge that I was definitely leaving for Project Bob very soon.

The rumor was mostly quarantined in Bangalore until one fateful day when one of the senior engineers flew down there for a couple of weeks. While there, a concerned developer asked him who was going to be replacing me (I suspect his real motive for asking was because he wanted my job). This was, of course, news to our senior engineer.

Upon his return to the hallowed halls of Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, this senior engineer asked a member of my team about my departure, and this team member asked my manager. At this point, as I believe the saying goes, the fecal matter contacted the oscillating unit.

My manager essentially teleported to my cubicle and pulled me into a conference room, which experienced employees will recognize as not an auspicious sign. He cut to the chase — a trait of his I always appreciated — and said “so, I heard you’re going to Project Bob. When were you going to tell me?”

It took a couple of weeks and some pretty good international detective work to trace back through the sequence of events I described above and figure out that Sid was the source of the rumor. It turns out that nobody on my team was leaving to join Project Bob. Someone on my team did leave for a different but non-Bob team a few months later, so I guess the rumor Sid heard was about him.

To prove that fate has a sense of humor, a little less than two years after this story happened I left my position to join Project Bob.


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