November 2004. The period known as “Black October” has carried on all the way through into November. We still have a ton of stuff to do, not nearly enough resources to do it, we’re undermanned, our manager has been fired and our director is running us in an absentee fashion. We’re not working ahead at all; everything is pretty much to-the-day and we’re struggling to get gear out the door.
I clearly remember this: I would go back to my bench, which was at the other side of a huge pile of…everything. Returned equipment, new equipment, etc etc. I re-arranged that stuff for a while until I had a clear space around the bench, barricaded in by walls of cases and boxes and etcetera, easily six and a half feet high all the way around. On the other side of the wall, random stuff piled high where people had left it. The only way in or out was a passage just wide enough to slide a roller case through – less than 3 feet wide at best – and was blocked by a pallet jack loaded down with 600 lb of desktop machines, so I could easily pull up the drawbridge.
I sat there, no sound other than the tinny streaming radio from the UK and the occasional chime of a rebooting system, and churned out laptops for eight hours straight. Sometimes nine or ten. It was mind-numbingly dull…but it wasn’t customer-facing, it wasn’t physically strenuous, I could sip on a Dr Pepper and hear some music in the background…basically, all the alone-time I needed.
Man alive, what I wouldn’t give now…not to be customer-facing, and to be able to just build up the wall and get to work.