Friday, December 12, 2008

My incompetent coworker

Higher education jobs and state jobs both have a reputation as the kind of jobs you can't get fired from. I work at a state-run institution of higher education. There are people here whom the phrase "dead weight" doesn't even begin to describe. One of these people is my co-worker, whom we'll call Mustafa. Mustafa is over 60 and has a Ph.D. in anthropology but was apparently unable to find an academic job. He has been working in my department for about seven years and is well-liked but universally acknowledged as being utterly incompetent at his job. To clarify: I'm an IT guy. I manage computers for my school. I am the only person who does this, except for Mustafa. He, however, cannot be trusted to take down a phone number, let alone replace a broken computer. When I started my job, a trusted former co-worker filled me in via email. Quote: "He essentially knows nothing and is worse than useless."

Yet he cannot be fired. I generally have no interest in firing anybody. I would rather find something else for them to do, unless they did something unethical, but Mustafa has been reassigned repeatedly and shown himself to be worthless as an employee everywhere he goes. Since he and I currently share an office (just for now, thankfully), I'm aware of his daily activities. Here is a typical day for Mustafa:

- show up a bit late
- translate some documents into Nepali (I think he has a side job)
- noisily eat a persimmon or two (I have to put on headphones and listen to music at this point)
- talk to his wife on the phone
- talk to various laborers working on his house
- confuse the hell out of undergraduates asking him questions about the computer lab next door
- arrange the housing of Nepalese refugees via phone
- take down some incorrect phone messages for me
- leave early

He is a good person, but a terrible, terrible employee. Every day, I hope he'll announce that he's retiring. My administrator says she's seen too many people like Mustafa to harbor any illusions that he won't hold on until the bitter end. He's going to be here until he is physically incapable of work -- and that's what makes a lifelong state employee.

1 comment:

  1. "Wow oh wow oh wow wow wow wow. Mr. Laazlo he left a long time ago. Oh wow I hope he has not had an injury on his bicycle. Oh wow wow wow."

    - my only conversation with IC to date