Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Finish him!

I worked for a my first software company in the late 80s into the early 90s, and we were bought up by a “giant”. We were located in the Seattle area, they were down in San Francisco, and it was a very interesting relationship to stay connected (this was the dark ages before the Internets…!). Over time, our group was downsized bit by bit until the original group of around of 100 (devs & testers) was reduced to about 10 testers. They had us working as a rogue testing group - spot checking the work that the teams in SF were doing. It felt a bit dirty because we knew we were working behind the scenes for higher up manager types who wanted to know if their teams were finding all the bugs.

Then something interesting happened….

Managers came and went, and we were shuffled between a few of them, and eventually we realized that the last person we were working for was gone…. but no one new had gotten to us to let us know what we should be working on next. So, after a few boring days we hooked up a Nintendo to a giant TV, rearranged our cubicles, brought in a couple couches, and played Mortal Kombat (the original one) until we heard what to work on next.

We waited for 6 MONTHS while playing that game all day long.

We’d show up each day on time, play MK, and then go to lunch, come back, play MK, then head home at the end of a full day. We wanted to be there in case anyone tried to call or email us, but no one ever did. We didn’t know who to call about what we should be doing, because the person we last worked for wasn’t there anymore.

Our paychecks kept rolling in, and over time, one by one, guys on the team found jobs at other companies – because they were getting bored of just playing Mortal Kombat all day long. In the end, there were 3 of us left, and we got a call from headquarters letting us know that they were going to give us a “re-deployment package” and let us all go. It was an extremely generous deal, and I used it to put a down payment on my first house.