Developer waits two years for management to define project

He got bored and changed jobs to a project where he waited another year


On-Call Welcome again to On-Call, our Friday festival celebrating the many odd things Reg readers have been asked to do at work.

This week, we're delving into the mailbag of tales generated by recent On-Calls about the reader paid £35k to do nothing for three months and another paid to do nothing for a year.

Reader “Henry” reckons he has them covered with a three-year stint of paid nothing.

Henry tells us he once worked as a “software engineer/statistician in the manufacturing division of a large computer manufacturer” where “I had just come off writing an advanced language compiler and run-time, and before that working on an operating system.”

At that time the company decided it needed to work on a manufacturing quality initiative. Henry's twin skill sets made him a fine candidate and he scored the job.

“I was ready ready to hit the ground running … just as soon as management reached consensus on the quality measurements to be done,” Henry tells us.

That consensus was some time in coming, so “In the next two years, I coached a different manager through his Master’s in computer science, but mostly played a lot of a character-cell predecessor of Civilization.”

After two years of that, Henry decided he needed a slightly more productive gig. So he had himself assigned to “a distributed system research team composed of academics at a nearbyengineering school.”

Henry's first assignment there was “to port all the distributed systems software to DOS … just as soon as project management decided which of three candidate network stacks to use.”

Cue another year of waiting and playing, this time Battlezone, “For a year, before I quit.”

None of our correspondents can top Henry's three years of paid idleness. If you can, write to me.

Ultra-marathon loafing isn't the only thing we're interested in, of course. We're also quite tickled by a tale from “Ron”, who told us a tale he knows about a crack team of developers assembled by a financial services company. All showed up to work … before their offices had been properly fitted out.

While workers sorted out desks and networks and other niceties, all retired to a floor below and played indoor cricket for a fortnight. Ron reckons the combined salaries of the developers comfortably exceeded those paid to professional players, and asked us “Howzat for money well spent?”

Well played, Ron.

Honorable mention, too, to “Jay” who told us about the time did a job in Ghana and liked it so much he booked a holiday there a few months later.

When he landed for his break, the customer got wind of his presence and asked him to solve a problem. To sweeten the deal, they promised a hotel upgrade and extended stay. Just as happened when reader Kelly scored a week in the bar of a Hong Kong hotel, Jay checked out the problem and found it was a trivial matter. So he took the limo to the upgraded hotel and stayed for the two weeks the client had paid for. Thus did a one-week holiday turn into three!

Yes, I already mentioned we love receiving more On-Call contributions from y'all. So if you have a tale of idleness, computers that catch fire for stupid reasons, horrible bosses or colleagues doing odd things with ice cream and cold spoons, please do write! ®

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