Column: Office legendsFor over a decade I worked in information technology, mainly as a software engineer. Last week when someone told me about the software developer who was busted for outsourcing his own job to China so he could watch cat videos during the work day, I thought it was a joke.
By: Mary Lebens, The Farmington Independent
For over a decade I worked in information technology, mainly as a software engineer. Last week when someone told me about the software developer who was busted for outsourcing his own job to China so he could watch cat videos during the work day, I thought it was a joke. But the story was absolutely true. The Verizon developer was caught after his employer noticed someone logging into the company’s network from Shenyang, China every day. This is an amazing stunt, something that will grow into an IT legend.
Every place I worked in IT had its own mythology, featuring former or even current co-workers who were immortalized for crazy stunts. Many years ago, when I worked in healthcare IT, a co-worker regaled me with the story of a system administrator who was written up for scouting for free food at doctors’ luncheons. Pharmacy representatives regularly brought in trays of sandwiches and foil pans of lasagna for the doctors as a little advertisement. The system administrator caught onto this, and he would wander the hospital campus at lunchtime with a Tupperware container in hand. As soon as he found an abandoned table of leftovers, he dove in, heaping his container with enough chow for a late lunch and an early dinner. His raids went unnoticed until the system crashed while he was out foraging. The supervisor caught him red-handed in a conference room, balancing a casserole-sized plastic bowl piled with pickles, stale chips and wilted slices of a party sub.
Years later I worked with another person who was rumored to scout for cookies in other people’s offices. Donuts and chips left sitting out went untouched, but cookies hidden in desk drawers and zipped inside lunch bags routinely disappeared. The identity of the Cookie Monster was eventually ferreted out after he ordered a dozen boxes of Girl Scout cookies from the boss’ niece.
Those are just a couple of the food-related IT legends I encountered in my years of service. Food, inappropriate emails and creative loafing figure prominently in these legends. Gross cases of under-dressing also haunt these legends, including showing up at the office barefoot, in pajamas, or skintight sweatpants. One of my most bizarre co-workers walked around all day wearing a child’s backpack. The backpack incident spawned a client complaint, which led to an office-wide ban by management on any bag that was not a purse or briefcase. I’ll bet our IT director never dreamt she would be talking to an employee about leaving a purple Barney the Dinosaur knapsack at home.
Although what the Verizon software developer did was absolutely wrong and completely unprofessional, the story of it gives me a slight thrill because of the potential for a new IT legend, perhaps the most entertaining one ever told. The guy not only watched cat videos, he wasted time shopping eBay and updating his Facebook status, all while garnering outstanding reviews from management. To quote the movie Office Space, this guy has “upper management written all over him.”