Friday, November 12, 2004

There's a price to pay

There's a price to pay for being my friend. You're going to listen to the same jokes over and over (and over and over and ...). You'll probably hear the same stories again and again. If you're female, you'll be subjected to an innuendo or two, and I'll probably tell you that your love interest is gay. You'll end up listening to me talk about myself a lot. And finally, you'll be on the receiving end of joke e-mails like the one below.

First, let me tell the backstory. My friend Sinde started a new job earlier this year at a large company that makes dispensers and point-of-sale systems, mostly for gas stations and such. When she arrived, the company was in the midst of converting to a new order fulfillment system, a project she inherited. The project was a classic train wreck waiting to happen: there were no official requirements, the developers were mostly contractors and some weren't local, and nobody seemed concerned about the enormity of the project. As expected, once coding was done, testing was going poorly. The biggest issue was that order configuration didn't work, which makes it difficult to sell anything. Sinde raised the issue (and many others) during testing, but an "executive decision" was made to switch over at the beginning of November because the old system cost too much money to maintain. When Sinde pointed out the very real possibility that things might not go well, she was told to make sure she had a contingency plan to handle any problems that might occur. (As always, executives are reactive instead of proactive.)

So last week, the switchover occurred. And not so surprisingly, orders couldn't be configured. Prior to the switchover, Sinde and her team worked many, many hours and most weekends testing and getting ready. And after the switch, they were working again last weekend (Saturday and Sunday until after 8:00 PM) entering orders by hand. In fact, they're still working on entering all those orders by hand to this day.

So what's the point? The point is that Sinde and her team had worked a lot of hours, she was tired, and she was stressed out. And earlier this week, she receives the following e-mail from me:

To: Sinde
From: Don
Subject: Order system problem

I was trying to place an order for a TRAC outdoor payment system, because my house is just begging for a transponder activation system for gas pumps. When I tried to configure my order, I ended up with a Teletubby ... Tinky Winky, to be specific. Now I can understand ending up with Dipsy or Laa-Laa, but not Tinky. Do you have a contingency plan to handle this?

Of course, you're probably asking yourself the same question that Sinde immediately asked me in her reply: how is it that I know so much about the Teletubbies? Uh ... research! I have a niece that's almost four, and I want to be prepared for any discussions she might want to have about the Teletubbies. :) I once got into a thirty minute argument with a five year old over which of the original Power Rangers was the best, so it's good to be prepared for these things. Seriously, if you've managed to sit through more than five minutes of the Teletubbies, you've lasted much longer than I ever have. The only thing I know about the Teletubbies is that Tinky is the one that Jerry Falwell claimed was ruining our children because he carries a purse.

Fortunately, Sinde saw the humor in my e-mail, and I lived to annoy again.