Work for you? Again? After you lied about the job and stole my stuff? No thanks

Sometimes the best form of revenge is doing nothing – very politely

On Call Taylor Swift is playing in On Call's town tonight, creating a city-wide Friday frenzy. Here at The Register we prefer to end the working week in a gentler fashion by offering a fresh installment of On Call, the reader-contributed column in which we share stories of haters who hated IT, fakers who faked technical nous, and techies who shook it off and got the job done.

This week, meet a reader we'll Regomize as "Travis," who let us know about the time he worked for a shipping company as its first ever official IT manager.

His first job was to modernize its back-end infrastructure, which at the time relied on a first-gen IBM AS400 that "acted like a petulant two year old most of the time."

Travis told us it had wiring issues that nobody could ever pinpoint, which made it extremely unreliable and earned it the name "Little Darling." The IT team he inherited learned to work around the box's moods, but havoc still ensued when the machine wobbled.

Armed with a hefty budget, he set about replacing Little Darling with new IBM hardware.

That effort took three months. Travis is a cautious chap, so documented the migration extensively – even using his phone to snap plenty of photos depicting the AS400's cabling and innards just in case a rebuild was needed.

The cutover to the new boxes duly happened and Travis was authorized to decommission the AS400. He was also required to pack it away carefully as an insurance policy. The server was labelled, boxed, and left in a state that should have made reassembly feasible. Travis kept his photos, and a colleague we'll call "Dave" who had spent years nurturing Little Darling took home the AS400 documentation – partly out of nostalgia and partly as he feared it would otherwise be lost.

The project was a success.

But a month later, first thing on Monday morning, Travis and half a dozen other techies were let go in the name of "cost cutting."

"I decided later that with the modernization project done, they no longer needed me." His job had therefore been a sham and his employer knew it.

While Travis was being fired, his employer also visited his desk, opened his personal leather portfolio and removed all business cards and any page with anything written on the notepad.

"The ripped ends of paper showed where they had been crudely ripped off," Travis lamented. But he hardly had time to contemplate the wreckage as he was led out of the building by HR. On his way out he saw Dave – who, as an AS400 specialist, was no longer needed – waiting for his exit interview.

Two weeks later, Travis's phone rang.

It was the HR department of his former employer, which it turned out had forgotten that Little Darling could produce a certain report that its replacement could not.

Might Travis have kept any notes describing how to revive the machine? The report was needed urgently, so assistance would be appreciated.

"I replied that all notes had been ripped out of my portfolio, so they already had them," Travis replied, before HR asked if Dave might want to help.

Travis let them know Dave had gone off the grid and couldn't be reached.

During the conversation, Travis took out his phone and started looking at the photos he'd taken of Little Darling.

He didn't want to help HR. But he also didn't want his erstwhile colleagues left behind to suffer, so contemplated sending his images straight to his former teammates. He also felt that, while senior management were scoundrels, maybe they were due a little kindness too.

As his thumb moved in the direction of the icons that would send the images to his old mates, HR intervened.

"If you can't help us, you're useless to me," the veep of HR spat down the phone, before slamming it down. It was clear then that they were never ever ever getting back together.

Which left Travis with a phone full of pictures to burn. "I sat back and slowly deleted each picture in turn," Travis told On Call.

Travis told us that later in life he came across the quote: "It is a wise thing to be polite; consequently, it is a stupid thing to be rude."

And to this day, the more he dislikes someone, the more polite he is towards them.

Have you been asked to return to a workplace you detested? And what happened when you got the offer? Share your story by clicking here to send On Call an email and you might be the one who takes On Call into its next era.

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