Monthly Archives: November, 2010

Goodbye means we are done

Rude? What is this "rude" of which you speak?

It’s been a couple of months since I left my old job. Yeah!

Today I wish to present a blast from the past and recount a conversation I had with my office manager that took place shortly before my last day of work.

The background information is this: I worked at the company for over five years. During that time, among my other duties*, I programmed their ecommerce website entirely from scratch. Because the boss was so picky, only a homegrown and highly-customized solution would suffice.

* I was also forced, against my will and under threat of termination, to do things like: Retail sales floor, customer service phones, production, secretarial and janitorial. I naively thought I had been hired as “webmaster” but found out that even job listings can be viciously “bait and switch.” In fact, my actual job title was often just a tiny slice of my day.

So there I was, called into my manger’s office, and this is pretty much how it all went down:

“After you’re gone, when we find bugs in the software, you’ll fix them for free, right?”

Holy crap! What a thing to say. This really floored me. I mean, how rude! The sheer audacity of it is truly staggering.

I’m still so proud of the way I responded.

“Absolutely not.” I was unequivocal.

The manager had the balls to put on a bewildered look. “How can you say that? You wrote it, right? Any bugs in there are your mistakes. Don’t you stand behind what you do?”

Sad. This was truly sad.

“Sure I do. But let me ask you a question. When is the last time you heard something like this? An employee leaves a company and two weeks later a mistake of theirs is found. Have you ever heard of that employee going back to the job and fixing the problem for free?”

Even amongst all the greatest assholes of the world this caught my manager flatfooted. Yeah, delicious!

“Look,” I continued. “When I was working as an employee for this company, I gave it my absolute best. My goal was to provide the highest quality product I possibly could. Even so, there were two problems. First, I’m human, and I will make mistakes. They will happen. Second, I had absolutely no control over my work environment. Computer programming ain’t exactly like painting the Sistine Chapel, but it ain’t ditch digging, either. It’s hard and requires intense concentration and logic. It’s not exactly the kind of work that can be done in a blender. Yet that’s the environment that has been forced down my throat for the last five years. That sort of environment increases the error rate. I’m sorry about that, but that’s just the way it is.”

Of course, I’m paraphrasing just a wee bit here. Call it artistic license. 🙂

“So what happens when we find bugs? We’re screwed?”

“As I see it, you have three choices. Live with it, fix it yourselves, or hire someone to fix it for you. As your employee, when mistakes were found, I could fix them as part of my day. You didn’t require me to clock out and work for free. As your ex-employee, you still have the same option, as long as I remain willing and available, of course.”

And so it came to pass that I would not be fixing every bug from the last five years and doing it for free.

After I left the company we briefly negotiated a renewable weekly contract where I would work from my home office for 20 hours a week. But their final offer was insultingly low and I refused. I now do ongoing work for them, as needed, but at my final offer of an hourly rate, not theirs. After five years the tables have finally turned.

And yes, if I’m working as a contractor, I stand behind my work. That means I fix bugs for free. But I also control my work environment.

Sometimes it is good not to be the employee.

The spirit of the season: Volunteering

Abyss casual wear

This time of year always gets me thinking about volunteering. Yes, even I can do it. Of course, you might not be surprised if I put my own special spin on it.

Helping to feed the hungry? A worthy cause but way overdone. It’s passe.

Build someone a new home? Sorry. Once there are 42 different reality shows on TV pimping the idea I’ll pass.

I need something new and trendy. I’ll volunteer, but only for something cool. You know, like me.

Wait? What’s this??? 😮

The Hundred Year Starship: The Nasa mission that will take astronauts to Mars and leave them there forever

Well played, universe. Well played! You have my attention.

So, yeah. Since I spend so much time bitching about being on the “wrong planet” and all, you might think that I’d jump at an opportunity like this.

You’d be right.

I volunteer!

You also, wisely, might think I’m too old, too ugly and too fat to qualify for a trip like this. Again, you’d be right. Except I have an ace up my sleeve. Mwuhahah.

Seriously. I can logically prove why I’m the best life form for the job. And I can even save them some money in the process.

My logic goes like this: Anyone willing to sign up and say they will go with three other human beings obviously needs to be immediately disqualified. That’s a warning sign if ever there was one.

Therefore you need someone willing to make the trip alone. Therefore you need me.

I have no use for other humans so I’m perfect. That’s a 75% savings in life support and food! (Just in time for Black Friday, too.)

So here is my “open letter” to NASA:

Dear NASA,

Please accept this as my official application to be the chief (and only) astronaut in the Mars Interplanetary Expeditionary force.


Tom B. Taker

Yes, money is a factor on this mission. For example, due to the costs involved, there will be no return trip to Earth. It is simply too expensive. So I’ll do my part and take a one-way ticket!

That’s also a 75% savings in spacesuits. A NASA spacesuit costs approximately $12 million. That might sound high, but remember: It comes with two pairs of pants.

No return trip. That’s genius. No heat shields. No space shuttle tiles. No parachutes. Someone is really thinking outside of the box.

Due to the distance, recycling on Mars will be taken to a whole new extreme. That means, among other things, that someone is going to have to drink their own pee and eat their own poop. Honestly, I can’t think of anyone better suited for the job than me.

So long, Earthlings, and thanks for all the fish!

Demotivational Fail

I realized that I haven’t been doing my job as a demotivational specialist. So here is a little graphic I made to offer encouragement for when times get tough. I was in the mood so I worked on it as hard as I could. There was so much more I wanted to do with this but it didn’t work out. See? I should have followed my own advice.

Hyppo and Critter: EULA

Un-Thanksgiving Day Post

Who wants some savings on shit made in China?

For some damn reason I woke up in a black mood. Last night I slept fairly soundly but I dreamed about being chased by a Black Taco. I guess I just feel drained, like all my energy when down a black hole. Curse my black heart!

Oh yeah, today is Black Friday. The real reason for the season. Celebrate!

As I perused Google News this morning on the topic there were, so far, no dramatic stories of Black Friday violence. Curses! But one thing was certain: Journalists and media were poised and ready just in case it happened. They don’t want to miss a thing.

Of course we’ve all been trained to know by now that right on the heels of Black Friday comes Cyber Monday, one of the biggest sales days of the year for online shopping. Holy shit I do not want to go to work on Monday. If I still have my cold I plan to cough in every single package. Just a little FYI.

So, if you are one of the herd, you are likely to load up on junk this weekend. Here’s some stuff I thought you might want to know:

  1. Stores take your picture. They have computers that analyze your movements. They are even using satellites orbiting high above the Earth. Yep, they are counting cars in parking lots to anticipate this year’s sales.
  2. Check your receipt. If you wake up a few days from now in a little place I like to call “reality” will you suffer any buyer’s remorse? Make sure you have that receipt. And, when you were dashing through the store, did you happen to study the return policy? What you don’t know could hurt you. A good receipt should contain information like a description of the item, the cash selling price, length of time that refund or exchange is allowed (if at all), applicable fees, and if the item is refundable.
  3. When going after the Holy Grail item of your choice, take a moment to make sure you don’t get ripped off. Check the scanned prices to match sure you’re actually getting the same deal you think you’re getting. I’ve personally seen this sort of “scanner variance” many times. My personal theory is that it is deliberate. Stores know that most people won’t check. They’ll simply satisfy the squeaky wheels that complain and enjoy the extra profits from those that don’t. Some studies have shown that even after bad scanner prices are reported to management, days later on follow-up visits they still haven’t been fixed. Let the buyer beware!
  4. Gift cards? Watch these like a hawk. Some places subtract a monthly fee from your unused balance. For the lift of me I can’t imagine why anyone would ever voluntarily exchange their unrestricted dollars for what is essentially a contract where the other party makes all the rules. Dumb. If you find yourself stuck with one use it as fast as you possibly can. Avoid giving these as gifts.
  5. Rebates? I’ve read reports about some big allegedly reputable companies that are nightmares to deal with when it comes to these sorts of things. They can be slow to pay or not pay at all. If that happens, what leverage do you have? They’ve already got your money! They also know that the submission rate will be less than 100% so that’s just more free money for them. If you do decide to go for a rebate, good luck. You’ve got to jump through some hoops and hope for the best. My advice is don’t fall for this.
  6. You like crushing crowds? Be sure to say, “Hello, Mr. Airborne Pathogen” for me, won’t you? Enjoy.
  7. Price? You think you’ll get one of those advertised deals? Is it wrong to advertise a price then bring in only 10 of that item? What are the ethics of encouraging 200+ cars in your parking lot in the wee hours of the morning for a product where you only have 10 in stock? Sure, it’s a good deal, on that very limited inventory. What then? Search the net and you’ll find stories even worse than this. It’s almost like they advertise a price they never planned to honor at all. Beware!

This year I am enjoying four days off – in a row! That is the second longest break from work I’ve had in the last 11 years or so. I shit you not. I plan to relax, spend time with my wife, relax, be calm, do some things I enjoy, relax, and, in the name of all that is holy, not go anywhere near one of these retail shitholes. I shudder to even think about it.

Got Any Stories???

If you or anyone you know decided to brave Black Friday, I’d love to hear about the experience. Were the savings worth it? What was the experience like? Did you see anything that defied understanding? Was is like storming Normandy Beach? I want to know!

Reblog: Are you a fanatic? (via the unabridged girl)

The phone in my office. Yes, it is REALLY a phone!

One of the walls in my office decorated with my lifetime of achievements.

After a viewing of some strange new movie I’ve never heard about, Kenzie asks the question, “Are you a fanatic?”

I decided to answer the question with my camera. The results are documented above. I’m a Trekkie and proud of it. (If you look closely on the wall you’ll also see Darth Vadar, R2D2 and the Millenium Falcon. So I’m not a purist.)

Note: I didn’t try to photograph my collection of dice lest someone out there be prompted to have me committed. (Probably still a good idea, though.)

are you a fanatic? One of my bestest (yup, totally used a non-word there) friends and I went to the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. No, we didn’t dress up, though plenty of people did, (which is a show in itself). This one guy (pictured below) went all out, dressing up as He Who Shall Not Be Named. … Read More

Thanksgiving Day Post

Pies await!

As I write this I’m sitting in my home office. Outside my window snow is gently falling. Ah, this is the good life. This seems like a good time to try to write a post about things I’m thankful about.

Above all else I’m thankful for Mrs. Abyss. My wife, sweetheart and companion. I’m lucky to have found one person that I truly want to spend the rest of my life with.

I’m thankful I found a new job, even if I’m still not too sure how I feel about it.

I’m thankful I won’t have to fly any time soon. (Random t-shirt idea: “Scan This!”) I think I’ve only flown one round trip in something like the last 15 years.

I’m thankful that my cats are healthy, adorable and a lot of fun.

I’m thankful for having a “small holiday” tomorrow with just 3 or 4 people at home. (You never know what to expect. A gerbil or two just might show up unannounced.) To me quiet days at home with the core family are what holidays are all about.

I’m thankful I don’t have to deal with the bother of being buried in gold.

I’m thankful for this video. It has brought me a lot of joy.

I’m thankful I’m not currently vegetarian. That means turkey this year. Yesssssssss!

And last, but not least, shouts out to all of the people I’ve met and the wonderful friends I’ve made through this humble little blog. I truly appreciate you all.