How not to impress your boss.

March 13, 2009 at 3:51 pm Leave a comment

A couple of years ago, I was the new QA Manager for a small start-up.  There was a mountain of work to do (a complicated app and SMTP protocol to learn, test plans to write and about 50 defects to verify), I was in the process of building a team, I was short on equipment,  the CTO resented the fact that they needed a QA team at all and he hated me from day one.  In short, it sucked to be me and I was super stressed out.

We were crammed into a tiny suite, but a big new space in the same building was being renovated for us to move into.  I mentioned to my boss that I was having a hard time making progress on my to-do list because I was constantly being interrupted.  He said that his office in the new space was finished and I should hide out there until he moved in.  I immediately took him up on the offer and started rounding up my stuff.

In my desk was a bottle of wine I’d received as a birthday gift, but had forgotten to take home.  It was after 5:00 and I knew I was in for the long haul that night, so I decided that a glass or two of wine was warranted.  The only problem was that I didn’t have a corkscrew and couldn’t find one anywhere in the office (strange, because we had happy hours pretty often).

No bottle was going to outsmart me – I wasn’t about to let a silly thing like the lack of the proper tool keep me from enjoying a good Shiraz.  I found an allen wrench on a mostly-assembled IKEA desk and decided that I would just push the cork into the bottle rather than pulling it out.  Genius!

I gently started pushing down on the cork and felt it start to give.  Yippee!  Progress!  Suddenly, the cork gave way entirely and with a whoosh, my bottle of wine was transformed into a fountain.  Everything in a 10-foot radius was splattered with wine drops.  The brand new wooden desk, the freshly-painted walls, the newly-cleaned carpet, my laptop, my notebook, a big stack of documentation, me – all covered with red, red wine.

I didn’t realize I wasn’t the only one there and before I could even catch my breath, the IT Manager poked his head in the office.

“Are you OK?” he asked, stifling a chuckle.

“Uh…nope…not really.” I said as wine dripped off my nose.  “Does this look as bad as I think it does?”

“Yeah – it doesn’t look good.  I’ll help you clean up.”

What a great guy!  He helped me find spot cleaner for the carpet and we took to dabbing up wine from every surface.  After I thanked him, I IM-ed my boss to admit I’d nearly ruined his brand new office.  He laughed, and surprisingly, didn’t kick me out.  There was even some wine left in the bottle.

A couple of weeks later, everyone moved into the new space.  After my boss moved into his office, he marveled that there was no sign of my wine-bombing.  I wanted to take credit for a great clean-up, but all I could do was point to the ceiling.  Even the ceiling tiles had been showered, but we couldn’t get the wine off them.

Not the best mark I’ve made on a company, but it could turn out to be the most lasting…..


Entry filed under: Stories.

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