Sunday, December 02, 2007

Character Study: Scooter/Bear

Since I'm so far behind on posts, this is likely the only mention of this person you will ever get to read. You should be sad at this as he was a rich source of material.

I have no good way of introducing this person, so I'll just do it through a kind of character study. I'm torn about what I should call him. He's a short, very hairy, homophobic, ultra-conservative, borderline racist developer that rides one of those Rascal-style scooters around the office. Apparently he's got really bad knees. I never miss an opportunity to make fun of the handicapped, even if it's something as minor as "bad knees." Therefore, I'm tempted to call him "Scooter." I know it's not very imaginative, but fuck you--get your own blog. Fine. We'll call him "Bear" instead.

Bear is a company man, through and through. He labors under the theory that there are smarter people than him with more information making intelligent decisions. I mentioned at one point that my unofficial contract with the company is that they don't make stupid decisions that jeopardize my job or the business. His response was to say, "Having a contract is all well and good until the situation changes and the company can't hold up their end." Huh-wah?

My primary gripe with Bear is that he sits in the cube next to mine and constantly talks to himself. It's not just that quirky "I'm a genius that thinks out loud" bullshit either. They're conversation bait. "Oh! I wonder what that means." "Oh! That's interesting..." I'm supposed to hear these and probably responsd with, "What's that, Bear?" An inane one sided conversation is sure to follow. When I ignore these long enough he generally moves onto, "Greg? Can I borrow you for a second? What does this non-error, non-warning message mean?" He adamantly refused to believe there was a timing bug in his code even after I tried to lead him through the overwhelming mountain of evidence. Several days later he was hobbling around like a proud little hairy peacock saying, "I know what it is. Yes. I found it. It's a timing bug." I want to slash the tires on his scooter so bad I can taste it.

Instead of vandalizing his ride I decided to just create a label using our label maker and stick it on his bumper. The first draft read "Honk if you're horny." After sneaking into his cube on my stomach to apply the label I decided that could lead to a whole sex talk with Bear that I wasn't emotionally equipped to handle. I snuck back into his cube on my stomach and pulled the label off. The final version that was applied was "The Rubber Duck. Puttin' the hammer down!" I was pretty sure he'd find it and we'd all have a good laugh at his expense. He went several weeks and never found it. He then vacationed to China and took the scooter with him. He still never found it. He came back to work with his airport cargo tag still attached with that stupid sticker still on his bumper. He worked several more months with the thing on it, got laid off, underwent surgery for a subdural hematoma (not related to the sticker), collected unemployment, found another job, and finally returned to the office to pick up some of his crap. Sure enough, that fucking sticker was still on the damn scooter. In my daydreams I picture people calling out "Hey there, Rubber Duck" as he rolls by wondering what they're talking about. It makes me sad that I'm not there for the payoff, but such is life.

As we follow an Agile methodology, we have a daily stand up meeting. Bear sits, of course, because of his bad knees. He also gives the longest summaries of the group that tend to have nothing to do with work. One meeting he brought in some piece of wood from a crib that he was building for his grandchild. He then proceeded to bang and slide it around the table while we were on a conference call and tell us all about his little woodworking project. Whenever someone is late to the meeting they pay a whole dollar. It's a minor punishment to remind people to show a little more respect for their co-workers' time. Bear decided he was going to pay all of his fines in change to further "punish" us for him being late. On several occasions he refused to pay rather than simply explaining that a work related activity had made him late. He often refers to his wife as "my sweetie" rather than by her name (I'm assuming she has one). He carries a cane and frequently mock threatens to beat people with it. Secretly I yearn for our work relationship to take a violent turn despite the fact that me standing over his limp body and beating him with his own cane would probably cause me to have to have a long talk with our HR person.

As I alluded to he eventually got laid off in a massive restructuring that unfortunately didn't eliminate my position. More on that in a later post.


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