I’ve been down with coughs and colds for a couple of days now. The doctor ordered me to stay home for a week. First time I went to a doctor here, by the way. He barely spoke English but I was able to communicate my symptoms well enough to get the proper treatment (*clap clap* achievement unlocked).
It seems like such a long time since I last spent consecutive days just hanging out at home – even though I’ve been working for barely a month. Did you know that in Germany, sick leaves aren’t counted as part of your yearly leave entitlement? Yeah. So long as a doctor has ordered you to stay home, you get to stay home. My office mates don’t even want me around. I tried going to the office last Monday and one of them told me “Go home, I don’t want to be infected by your germs”. I said “I can’t, since I can’t work from home” to which he responded “When you’re sick, you don’t have to work from home. Just tell your boss.”
Is this real life? I’m not really sure if these things are actually happening. First there’s the company-issued Pixel, now “worry free” sick leaves? Makes me very grateful. Also makes me think about how I almost didn’t get this job, and all because of High School, Gundam, and Skype.
A couple of weeks ago I had my first one-on-one meeting with my boss. The meeting itself was pretty unremarkable, but as I always do, I asked him for some feedback. You know what he said?
Well, you seem to be doing well. I guess I just have a bit of professional advice for you. If you’re going to be using Skype for interviews, you should think about changing your profile. I mean, some punk calling himself “S3chsRobot*”. I almost didn’t want to interview you.
*S3chsRobot – not the real handle, but sounds similar
Of course I agreed. I had a little laugh with him as we went out of the little conference room. I was feeling mildly embarrassed when I got back to my seat. I was almost dying of shame when I got home.
Yeah. I almost didn’t get an interview because of my juvenile Skype handle. Turns out I had my psycho-analyzing HR interviewer to thank for my job, because she was the one who convinced my boss to give me a chance.
How did it turn out this way? How does one presumably intelligent, experienced person end up using S3chsRobot as his handle for a business interview?
High School and Gundam
The first culprit is the amalgamation of my extremely green-minded high school self (I get it from my mom) as well as my infatuation with Japanese Anime, Gundam Wing in particular.
That series featured this badass:
This dude went by many names, depending on your choice of language or dubbing. Julian Peacecraft. Milliardo Peacecraft. Baron Flash. The Lightning Baron. The Lightning Count. Regardless of version though, I am pretty sure you would know him first and foremost as Zechs.
[SIDE NOTE] Zechs is actually the number six in German (actually “sechs” but pronounced as “zechs”). His love interest was Noin, which is pronounced the same way as “neun” or nine in German. When the two of them get together, should they be called 69 or 96?
This being a Gundam series, Zechs most definitely has his own machine. The glorious Epyon, featured below.
Hence, it would be understandable that dumb, angsty, and definitely inappropriate high school me would key in on this character, his machine, and the overt sexual message they allowed me to get away with.
“Hey, what’s up with your handle?”
“Oh, it’s just the Gundam Epyon, that giant red robot piloted by Zechs”
That excuse? Turns out, it doesn’t go over as well when used in the context of job interviews.
I know this. I’ve barely used that spiel for the past fifteen years, hence my apparent lack of practice when my boss brought it up. I had no need of it, ever since I went “legit”. You know, the time when you make an email address that is just simply your name, instead of some wonky handle? I was professional, I promise!
This leads us to the topic of Skype and its corporate history. There was a time when Skype allowed users to come up with their own handles, instead of linking their accounts to Windows Live. Predictably, during that time I used Skype under my tried and true S3chsRobot handle. The most use I got out of it was during the time when I went to Canada for a month, and took advantage of VOIP as a way of talking to my parents and my ex-girlfriend (I say ex-girlfriend because she is now my wife). I didn’t really cultivate any business contacts or whatnot using that account, and when I got back home, it fell into disuse.
Over the next couple of years, lo and behold, Microsoft acquires Skype. Microsoft Lync became Skype for Business, and it was supposed to be of a great benefit to all users. What did this have to do with my predicament?
Well, since that merger, I found that I can no longer log on using my handle. I was, however, able to log on using my Windows Live email – a professional, personal email address, which also happens to be the same email I used to register my S3chsRobot account.
I had occasion to use Skype during this period, and found that my previous user data seemed to have been wiped. My contacts were gone, I couldn’t review previous conversations, nothing. It was like I had a fresh slate. It soon fell back into disuse, though.
Fast forward to a couple of months ago. I get this email about the company wanting to have a phone interview with me, and I suggest Viber. It was a no-go, though. They preferred Skype, and wanted to schedule a video conference immediately. Ok, no problem. Let me just fire it up real quick.
FUCK. For some reason, it seems my Windows Live and S3chsRobot versions got merged. My display name was then “Firstname / S3chsRobot Lastname”. When I try searching for my email address in Skype, I get no results. When I try searching for S3chsRobot, I get my account.
I edited my display name to “Firstname Lastname”, then I tried searching for my email address in Skype. I got no results. I tried searching for “Firstname Lastname” in Skype. I got no results. I tried searching for S3chsRobot. I got no results. SHIT. I restored my display name to “Firstname / S3chsRobot Lastname”. I tried searching for S3chsRobot. I got my account.
Pop Quiz hotshot. What do you do if you’re asked to provide a Skype account which insists on having your juvenile handle from high school, for just the second job interview you’ve landed after around two months of job hunting? Do you remove your childish handle and risk not being found by your interviewers? Or do you keep it, and expose your prospective employers to your identity as S3chsRobot?
I chose the latter, and thankfully they gave me a chance.
I’ve since edited my handle to be just “Firstname Lastname”. Now when I search for it, I get three results, none of which seem to be mine. I don’t really care. I just have to make sure I don’t need to use Skype for a business interview in the future.