Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Re: The Wall

I also started in QA at this company, working on a game that takes place on a red planet… and a fighting game whose franchise (sadly) was acquired a few years back by the UFC.

We called it death row because that room was a long rectangular testing area which had a path running right down the middle of it, dividing the room into two halves of cubicles. We’ll call this room “Sector 2.”

On one side, this path lead into the front room, off of which was the kitchen, main entrance, another testing area, and the QA management offices.  We’ll call this “Sector 1”.

On the opposite side, this path connected to another room which housed the supervisor cubes, some lead cubes, and offices for others.. We’ll call this “Sector 3.”  Sector 3 in turn connected to another testing area.. and then another, like a chain of rooms.

Well, what would happen is management would always walk from Sector 1, through Sector 2, and into Sector 3 to visit leads, supes, etc (and vice-versa).  Rarely would they venture off into the wastelands of Sectors 4 and 5.  Now sectors 4 and 5….those are the areas you really wanted to test in.  Those were the testlands.  Nothing but testers.. far away from management. We had our own laws… our own way of life… we lived.. we laughed… we played…

Anyway….. so, what I didn’t tell you about Sector 2 was… that path down the middle.. the one that divided the room in half?  The one that management would stroll down as they crossed from Sector 1 to their final destination in Sector 3?  Yeah, that path had shallow tester cubes lining it up and down, both sides, with their backs open to the pathway.  Actually, if you moved your chair out the slightest, you would *block* the pathway.

THAT… was “Death Row.”  You did not want to sit on Death Row.  The guards constantly strolled past.  There was no escape.  You were always being watched.  You never knew if, or when, you would get a pardon and move to a better sector.

Everyone did time on death row.

I did my time on Death Row.

I did my time in the Bridge.

And I did my time in the Gulag
(OH The Gulag…. there is a great story here in the horrors of testing BTW… and how management treats testers like cattle…it even involves the fire marshall.  That may be my next submission to you guys.)

Despite the names of these places, and the way we were treated, I do have fond memories of working there…
the people I worked with… *some* of the titles I worked on… team dinner happy hours at the local eateries when working hellish overtime…

But I left, vowing never to return.

The building that housed death row went away.

The company moved to a new location down the road.

They were recently liquidated, and people will speak their name no more.

I shed no tears.