Ex-Apple Employee's Firing Makes For Great YouTube Video - InformationWeek

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2/24/2007
02:26 AM
Michael Singer
Michael Singer
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Ex-Apple Employee's Firing Makes For Great YouTube Video

Some say that revenge is best when it is served cold, but for former Apple Inc. call center employee Erik Ott, revenge may be best served about a million times a day on YouTube.

Some say that revenge is best when it is served cold, but for former Apple Inc. call center employee Erik Ott, revenge may be best served about a million times a day on YouTube.Ott, who moonlights as a poet with the handle "Big Poppa E," was fired from the computer company's Canadian customer service call center back in November 2005, two days after delivering an ode to the hilarious -- and fictitious -- life of a call center employee.

The 6 minute and 43 second video entitled "why i got fired from apple computer" features Ott in character complaining about rude Americans, overly polite Canadians, and a FedEx delivery woman with eyes the color of chocolate pudding whom he pines about while the customer is left on hold.

The video isn't new. The file has been seen in rotation in various forms since late in 2005. Ott said he tucked the video deep in a corner of his site to show to friends but someone got hold of and posted it on Google Video in 2005. It has since made the rounds on Digg last year and currently started playing on YouTube on Friday as a Featured Video.

The whole thing strikes me as very ironic. Ott, an avid fan of Apple's products, said he made the video as an experiment to test out his filmmaking skills using iMovie. Since then, someone lifted the video and began spreading it liberally around the Web.

Mind you, this was videotaped before a laughing room full of his co-workers and managers during what seemed to otherwise be a hum-drum employee talent show.

The audience roared. They screamed. And then Ott got a phone call two days later saying he was not allowed back in the building. No specific reason... except that it was an "at will" employment.

Dumbfounded, Ott said he was angry at Apple for not confirming his suspicions. He had a clean record. People liked him. What gives? A simple talking to would have sufficed.

"We were told not to cuss, which I didn't," Ott said. Other than that, Ott said he was never asked by Apple managers to review his material before the performance.

Eventually the truth came out. Ott ran into a former colleague at a restaurant only to see his co-worker turn to a friend and squeal, "That's the guy I was telling you about!... the guy that was fired for that poetry."

Ah ha! Conspiracy confirmed. But to make matters worse, Ott heard from other former Apple co-workers that his plight has now become a textbook example for human resource trainees on what "not to do" if an employee says something out of line.

Whoever decided to pull the shade down on Ott's career at Apple obviously didn't see the title of his performance. Below his name in big fat letters is the phrase, "Stand Up Performance, The Big Whinny Boy Manifesto!" Didn't it occur to Apple management that this might be a joke?

What is even more ironic is that weeks after Ott was let go, Apple's managers were the ones that sent him a DVD containing the entire talent show, including his segment.

Hindsight being 20/20, would he recite the poem again?

"You bet," says Ott. "It should serve as a lesson. Not that Apple sucks. I like the company. I love their products. But, I think that they over-reacted."

In April, Ott is traveling to Hawaii to perform his poetry at colleges around the islands. He'll do the same later this year in Milwaukee and Denver.

In the past, Apple has said precious little about the video and Ott. A company spokesperson has yet to comment on this recent revival. Anyone here think they will?

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