Mahmoud, the developer, wants Steve, the tester, to do some penetration testing.
Mr. Anderson is sitting in his cube. There is a bad odor.
[MR. ANDERSON]: My cube stinks.
The corporate Rapid Response Order Team (RROT) immediately arrives at Mr. Anderson’s cube.
[RROT LEAD]: Mr. Anderson. I understand that you have a problem with a smell?
[MR. ANDERSON]: I do, but how did you know?
[RROT LEAD]: We know. Can you describe the odor?
[MR. ANDERSON]: Kind of like a mix of skunk and a rotting bag lady in an alleyway in gang-infested Chicago circa 1929.
The RROT lead begins sniffing around.
[RROT LEAD]: I don’t smell anything, Mr. Anderson. I’m not saying that you’re lying, but I don’t smell anything.
[MR. ANDERSON]: It comes and goes. It’s seems to be gone now.
[RROT LEAD]: I see. It could be coming from that ventilation system. I can have Tooms crawl up there to have a look if you want.
[MR. ANDERSON]: No, I think it’s coming from the carpet. Do they ever vacuum in here?
The RROT lead responder gets down on her hands and knees to smell the carpet?
[RROT LEAD]: Who are they, Mr. Anderson?
[MR. ANDERSON]: The janitors.
[RROT ASSISTANT]: Mr. Anderson. Have you been eating foods such as eggs, tuna, beans, Doritos, Burger King, or spicy Thai shrimp rice lately?
[MR. ANDERSON]: No.
[RROT LEAD]: I see that your garbage is getting full. Perhaps it’s your garbage.
[MR. ANDERSON]: No. I don’t think so. The smell is not coming from there.
[RROT ASSISTANT]: Mr. Anderson. Is this your jacket?
[MR. ANDERSON]: Yes.
[RROT ASSISTANT]: When is the last time you washed it?
[MR. ANDERSON]: It’s a leather jacket. I don’t usually wash it.
[RROT LEAD]: Would it be fair to say that that the lady you described as rotting in the alleyway was wearing a leather jacket made of skunk skin.
[MR. ANDERSON]: No. My jacket smells fine.
[RROT ASSISTANT]: Do you bathe, Mr. Anderson?
[MR. ANDERSON]: Yes.
[RROT LEAD]: Mr. Anderson. We take cube odors very seriously. You may not be aware of this but over 100,000 deaths occur every year as a result of odiferous cubicles. It’s even worse in carpeted, service elevators that are continuously under repair.
[MR. ANDERSON]: I didn’t realize that.
[RROT LEAD]: I will file an incident report. A work crew will come tonight to replace your carpet. Do you understand what I’m telling you, Mr. Anderson?
[MR. ANDERSON]: Yes. I’m getting new carpet in my cube.
[RROT LEAD]: Mr. Anderson, do you know what the difference is between a risk and vulnerability?
[MR. ANDERSON]: Yes.
[RROT LEAD]: Have a good day, Mr. Anderson.
Later that night, Mr. Anderson is getting ready for bed. As he is brushing his teeth, he suddenly remembers that he left his wallet on his desk in his cubicle. He is afraid that the carpet crew might be tempted to steal it, so he gets in his car and drives back to work to retrieve it. He is greeted by Frank, the night security guard.
[FRANK]: Hello, Mr. Anderson.
[MR. ANDERSON]: Hi Frank. I forgot something at my desk. I will be back shortly.
Frank is a part-time student at the local community college. She works at night to pay for tuition
[FRANK]: No problem, Mr. Anderson. Take your time. The ground is sour.
Mr. Anderson arrives at his cube. He sees that the carpet is all torn up. The crew appears to be taking a break. They are nowhere in sight. Mr. Anderson sees his wallet on his desk. He quickly checks the contents and finds that nothing is missing. Relieved, he takes his wallet, turns to walk out of his cube when suddenly he trips over a roll of carpet. His head hits the side of the cube wall.
[MR. ANDERSON]: Damn, this cube wall is hard as a rock – definitely not made out of cloth.
Mr. Anderson notices a rip in the fabric at the bottom of the wall – probably caused by the crew when they were tearing out the carpet. Mr. Anderson peels the ripped fabric back to see what’s behind it. It appears to be a metal wall of some type. He hears muffled talking and laughing coming from the other side. He is bewildered.
[MR. ANDERSON]: I never noticed this wall before. Who the heck is back there?
Mr. Anderson begins pounding on the wall.
[MR. ANDERSON]: Hello! Can you hear me?
The talking continues, but no one answers.
[MR. ANDERSON]: Are you alright in there? Do you need help?
Still no response except for what sounds like men giggling now. At first, Mr. Anderson tries to push the door open, but the welds are too strong. He then attempts to pry the bonds apart with a crowbar that the workers used to remove the carpet, but the welds are not giving in. Mr. Anderson remembers that his manager keeps an acetylene cutting torch next to her desk across from his cube. He takes it from her cube and begins cutting around the perimeter of the door. Even though Mr. Anderson has never used an acetylene cutting torch in his life, he flawlessly finishes the job within seconds. The metal door with its hot, cherry red edges falls effortlessly to the floor. He cautiously pokes his head through its opening. He sees a large bullpen occupied by six people sitting in front of computers working away. Three of them are talking so much that they don’t even take notice of Mr. Anderson as he enters the space. Two others are listening to music wearing brightly colored headphones. They are focused intently on coding. The sixth person is under his desk rocking back and forth in a fetal position sucking his thumb. He is the oldest of the group and seems completely oblivious to his surroundings.
[MR. ANDERSON]: What is going on here?
No one answers. They are still unaware of Mr. Anderson’s presence.
[MR. ANDERSON]: Who are you people?
Then from behind someone answers Mr. Anderson’s question.
[MANAGER]: They are my team, Mr. Anderson.
Mr. Anderson turns around and sees a silhouette of a woman standing in the doorway.
[MR. ANDERSON]: Who are you? How do you know my name?
[MANAGER]: I am the manager of this validation team. Your name I read on the nameplate outside your cubicle. Why are YOU here?
[MR. ANDERSON]: I accidentally stumbled upon this place.
[MANAGER]: Stumbled upon this place with a blow torch, Mr. Anderson? I think not.
[MR. ANDERSON]: Why are these people here? What is this all about?
The manager begins to speak, but the three testers are talking so loud that it is hard for her to hear herself. So she walks back out of the cube and returns with the carpet crowbar. She smacks each one of them across the mouth with it.
[MANAGER]: Shut up! You are all like Chatty Cathy dolls. Chatty, chatty, chatties! How do you expect to get any work done around here?
[MR. ANDERSON]: Why are you doing this?
[MANAGER]: Doing what?
[MR. ANDERSON]: Keeping these people against their will.
[MANAGER]: I’m not keeping them against their will. They are here because they want to be.
[MR. ANDERSON]: What are you talking about?
[MANAGER]: Last year I built this team from the ground up. We worked hard to overcome many obstacles. We were at the precipice of greatness when they came to break us up.
[MR. ANDERSON]: Who?
[MANAGER]: The frogs in suits who sport big belt buckles and large, shiny watches. They systematically disbanded all of our teams by invoking the infamous Fibonacci reorganization plot.
[MR. ANDERSON]: I never heard of that.
[MANAGER]: At first they promised us that no one would be moved, but then it was one team, then another, then two, then three, then four, then eight, then thirteen, then …
[MR. ANDERSON]: Then twenty one. I understand.
[MANAGER]: We were number thirteen – an unlucky number. I wasn’t about to let that happen.
[MR. ANDERSON]: So you hid them in this bullpen by sealing it up.
[MANAGER]: Yes, I did. You have to understand something very important, Mr. Anderson. I wasn’t about to hand my team over to another manager. I couldn’t see them working for the likes of a Flanders, Saul Sepia, Yoko, or some Koala.
[MR. ANDERSON]: Surely management suspected something.
[MANAGER]: I obfuscated. I delayed. I made excuses. They were clueless. Eventually, they became the victims of a merciless reorg themselves by another management team in Belgium.
[MR. ANDERSON]: Brussels?
[MANAGER]: No, Waterloo. They begged for mercy, but we just laughed and said “You’re welcome.”
[MR. ANDERSON]: Why?
[MANAGER]: Because mercy is merci in French – which means, as you know, thank you.
[MR. ANDERSON]: Hmmm. Well, you can’t just keep these people in this cube forever.
[MANAGER]: I don’t plan to. I just got word tonight that I will be leading a new project called Māhū. That’s why I am here to get my team out, but then you showed up and messed everything up.
[MR. ANDERSON]: I can’t allow this to happen. I’m notifying the authorities.
Mr. Anderson attempts to call the police with his cell phone. He can’t make the call though because there is no reception. Mr. Anderson uses Sprint. Suddenly Frank appears at the doorway.
[FRANK]: Hello, Mr. Anderson.
[MR. ANDERSON]: Frank, call the police. Tell them that we have a hostage situation here.
[FRANK]: I can’t do that, Mr. Anderson. The ground is sour.
[MR. ANDERSON]: What the hell is that supposed to mean?
[MANAGER]: Mr. Anderson, my former manager the General taught me a very important lesson. He said that every war must have a last casualty. The American Civil War had its assassination of Lincoln and this reorg war…well, it’s going to have to be you, Mr. Anderson. You will be its last casualty.
[MR. ANDERSON]: No, no, you can’t do this.
[MANAGER]: You’ve been reorg’d, Mr. Anderson.
The other team members jump on Mr. Anderson. Laughing belligerently, they begin whipping him with oversized, red licorice whips until he is incapacitated.
[MANAGER]: Frank, seal the door.
[FRANK]: Yes, ma’am.
[MANAGER]: Mr. Anderson, I bid you farewell with a parting proverb that I learned a long time ago, “விதியை மதியால் வெல்லலாம்”. Unfortunately, Mr. Anderson, based upon your current situation here, fate, not brains, will be the final victor. Have a good night, Mr. Anderson.
The manager, the validation team, and Frank depart the bullpen leaving Mr. Anderson lying helplessly on the floor. The bullpen door is sealed once more, but this time it is forever.
Reno is worried about his job. It’s the end of the year and the performance reviews are due soon. Reno needs to submit a “brag sheet” for all of his accomplishments. Too bad he doesn’t have any.
[RENO]: Yo, Bro, I need your help.
[JOHN]: I’m busy. Leave me alone.
[RENO]: Come on! I need your technological expertise in writing.
[JOHN]: Just focus on the good things that you did last year and nothing else matters.
[RENO]: That’s the problem. I can’t think of anything.
[JOHN]: Well, we don’t call you King Nothing for nothing around here.
[RENO]: They’re going to let me go if I don’t get good marks.
[JOHN]: Sad but true. It’s the end of the line for you.
[RENO]: Come on.
[JOHN]: Ok. You still have a few weeks to get something meaningful done.
[RENO]: Yeah, but there aren’t any interesting projects. Management decides that for me anyways.
[JOHN]: How about doing some outside volunteer work then? It’s good for the company’s image.
[JOHN]: The best part is that you can do it during normal working hours and still get paid as usual.
[JOHN]: Just find a charity that you want to do work for then let our manager know about it. He really can’t say no. It will make him look bad, if you get my drift.
A year goes by and no one sees Reno at work. It’s business as usual. John bumps into Reno at an Arby’s restaurant. Reno is donning a headband and holding a mood enhancing Arby’s Roast Beef sandwich – always slow roasted for three hours and served freshly sliced and piled high to roast beef perfection.
[RENO]: Yo, Bro. I want to thank you for giving me that volunteering advice. It got me rich.
[JOHN]: What do you mean?
[RENO]: At first, I did volunteer work at the shelter. It was cool, but a lot of work. Still it was better than being at work so I did that every day. Then I met this banker online during a World of Warcraft (WoW) marathon session last summer. He said that I should set up my own charity.
[JOHN]: I’m not sure if I follow.
[RENO]: I created the Cliff Burton Memorial Foundation where underprivileged kids can come to my home and watch me play WoW. It keeps them busy and off the street. They fetch me food and drinks while I play online.
[RENO]: The cool thing is that I still get my regular paycheck because I’m doing volunteer work except now it’s at my home playing WoW. I also get to keep any donation money and matching funds from the company. What’s really cool is that my computer gaming equipment, like the joy sticks and NAS, are all tax deductible. Sweeeet!
[JOHN]: I don’t think what you are doing is legit.
[RENO]: It is, Bro. In fact, the government is so proud of my charity work that they’re going to add my face on Mount Rushmore.
[MANAGER]: Welcome aboard. Let me introduce you to the validation team.
The manager and new hire walk to the validation lab.
[MANAGER]: This is Aiko. She does the black box testing.
[AIKO]: Nice to meet you.
[NEW GUY]: Black box tester, heh? 猿も木から落ちる.
The two bust out laughing together
[MANAGER]: And this is Horatius. He does the white box testing.
[HORATIUS]: You can call me either Horace or Ace for short.
[NEW GUY]: Just as long as I don’t call you Hor. Ha ha…
[MANAGER]: Now that you know the team, you will be responsible for the gray box testing.
[NEW GUY]: Is that the British grey or American gray?
[MANAGER]: I don’t understand your question.
[NEW GUY]: Never mind. Where do I start?
[MANAGER]: I think you should start by writing a test plan.
[NEW GUY]: That’s easy. I’ll mix a little of Aiko’s black box test plan with Horace’s’ white box test plan to get my very own gray box test plan.
[MANAGER]: Your cube is over there.
[NEW GUY]: The one with all of the gray boxes stacked around it?
When old dogs don’t learn new tricks, they get put to sleep. This is probably the best career advice I can give you. Put these words on your t-shirts, bumper stickers, and bum tattoos.
As our careers gracefully mature like a fine wine and French cheese, intoxicating but smelly (the French), we naturally tend to put our emphasis on work experience rather than formal education. If I already have a degree and I’m working, then why do I need to go back to school? Good question.
A few months ago I decided to pursue a certification in CompTIA Security+. For security, there are many kinds of certifications, including CISSP. I know that there are some of you out there who think that these kinds of certifications are big waste of time and money, but I also know of many companies and government agencies that require them for hiring. Let me highlight the advantages:
- It’s a requirement. Your job opportunities have now expanded.
- You will learn something new. How bad can that be?
- It’s a kind of proof to show that you have a least baseline knowledge of security. It doesn’t mean that you’re an expert, but at least it’s a verifiable way that you studied computer security fundamentals or a least that you’re a good test taker.
- You can use your certifications to cover the drunk-punch-holes in the walls of your trailer.
The economy is getting so bad these days that even McDonald’s has downsized its Supersize meals (comedic drum roll). Companies have modified Tuckerman’s stages of group development of forming, storming, and norming to forming, storming, and reorging (comedic drum roll). You feel helpless as management passes you around like a pack of cigarettes in prison. For some, this may not be a bad thing, but for others, think of these certifications as tiny little picks that will help you tunnel your way through the walls of your cubicle to freedom. I will let you know how it goes.
Finally, if you are an old dog and you can’t learn new tricks, then you should retire immediately.