Wed 10:02am, one glance over the meeting invitation that just arrived at my
inbox told me something was happening. It was from the engineering head to my
team but Sandeep (our manager) was not invited. Within an hour, we were shocked
to learn that he was let go. "His position was terminated" was the official line
that I squeezed out of the VP.
Sandeep came from the QA (Quality Assurance) department to take over after my
manager left two years ago. It was a challenge for him but he compensated his
lack of technical expertise with hard work in the area he excelled, i.e.,
communication, and really shined covering engineers' blind spots. Before Covid,
he would take smoke breaks in the parking lot. "One pack a week" he told me
once. An occasional smoker myself, I could imagine that that number could easily
have trippled during our software release this summer. Chasing teams on the
opposite sides of the globe, he worked nonstop.
Sandeep knew his own weakness and his position in the hierachy, and was never at
odds with the powerful and the higher-ups. He came from a 3000-year-old caste
system, after all, and might not even believed that everyone was created equal.
He always defended his superiors when I publicly told them off in a few occasions.
At performance reviews, he used to advice me to "keep your temper in check."
He was otherwise fair with me and we found a way to work together.
But we did not become friends. Without some strong shared interests, making
friends at our age felt awkward. I didn't know exactly what made him tick but I
knew that his dad died a couple of years back in India, he drove a Mercedes, had
two small kids, and lived in the tri-valley area, and they used to go to Reno on
The next day, at the engineering all-hands meeting when the re-org was
announced, Sandeep was said to "have left." It is how capitalism works and he
was unceremoniously dumped. I guess I don't have to deal with his accent
anymore. I texted him "Goodbye & Good Luck" and got two replies, "Thank You"
first, and then "Still Digesting."