I'm gonna need you to start working full time...



  • It was 1992, and I was making decent money consulting on video systems for 10-15 hours a week during school.  During the summer break I took a job from a temp agency to do some data entry mainly just to get out of the house and for some experience.  They wanted someone to do parametric data entry for electronic parts, and having experience in both electronics and computers I was a good match.  I told the project leader up front I'd only be available for 20 hours a week because of my much better paying consultancies.

    So, he shows me the system they have.  It's a horrifically written application on an HP-3000 that requires you to start over if you mistype anything, and there's no kind of cut and paste (within the app) or the ability to repeat most of the previous entry or anything like that.  Luckily, it's running in a terminal window I can cut and paste into.  So I write a simple little GWBasic widget program to do the entry into, which creates a text file, which I can then cut and past into the HP-3000's horrible horrible application.  We had about 30,000 parts to enter, and i was averaging about 600 to 1,000 a day, which put us at just under two months to be done.  The project was originally scheduled for taking three months, so I figure they must be happy with my work.

     Then the boss tells me that he's gonna need me to start working full time so we can get this finished.

     Let's see.  I was making $75 an hour consulting on complex video systems.  I'm doing clerical work for $7.50 an hour for him.  Which should I choose?  I told him no way, it's just not worth my time, and they'd have to take me on at a much higher rate to make it so.  So, he says sorry, but he'll have to let me go and get someone else in.  He hires some guy and wants me to train him for a couple days.  Guy was dumb as a stump.  I found out later the whole project was scrapped because they couldn't find anyone for $7.50 an hour who could finish it.  Imagine that.



  •  I'm gonna fly off on a tangent here, but... you actually managed to build a useful program out of Basic? Damn...



  • I know you're only joking and all, but I'm gonna go fly off on a tangent and say that if you can't write a useful program in basic, then you can't write a useful program... period. 



  • @Sxooter said:

    I know you're only joking and all, but I'm gonna go fly off on a tangent and say that if you can't write a useful program in basic, then you can't write a useful program... period. 

    Agreed.  It's not the most expressive language, but I got my start with GWBasic on DOS 3.3.  Pay no mind to DOA, though, he generally has very little to say that isn't ignorant and pointlessly antagonistic.

     

    As for your story, I would have offered to sell him the app so he could save time with the next hire.  You could probably get a couple of hundred for all the saved hours you were providing him. 



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Pay no mind to DOA, though, he generally has very little to say that isn't ignorant and pointlessly antagonistic.
    Speaking of being pointlessly antagonistic...



  • Oh no, he had the app right on the machine I was using.  He interviewed like 20 temps, and the best and brightest couldn't operate it.  The training session went like this:

    Me: "You type in gwbasic xyz123 to run the program"
    Him: "OK" takes like 30 seconds to type in that.  And he's been hired for data entry
    Me: "Now, you type in each value in a field.  If a field doesn't need a value just tab to the next one"
    Him: "OK" takes about 10 minutes to enter all the data for one transistor
    Him: "Wow, this is hard!"

    Then I showed him how to save the data file if he was done with that round of parts and cut and paste it.

     Dropped by to visit a few days later, to make sure everything was going ok.  He preferred the borked HP-3000 interface.  That basic one was way hard.  Guy was doing somewhere around 40 parts a day. 

    Like I said, they were paying $7.50 an hour...



  • @Sxooter said:

    ... around 40 parts a day.

    Like I said, they were paying $7.50 an hour...

     

    And if you wanted $75/hour and could do it 15-20 times faster then it should have be worth it. Of course PHBs never see it like that...



  • I was able to pull $75 an hour for things like coming out in 30 minutes to fix a system.  I would have done what I was doing as a temp for $20 or $25 and hour, but that would have cost them probably twice that to the temp agency.  I think they were paying some ridiculous scam of 2:1 for me to the temp agency. 



  • If you couldnt' work full time, wouldn't it have been better for them to just hire a second part timer. Even if the second guy was only completing 40 a day to your 600. That'd still be doing better than what he got by hiring the other guy full time.



  • @SuperousOxide said:

    If you couldnt' work full time, wouldn't it have been better for them to just hire a second part timer?

    Probably. But the story indicates dismal lack of insight in all the involved players, save the OP.



  • @SuperousOxide said:

    If you couldnt' work full time, wouldn't it have been better for them to just hire a second part timer. Even if the second guy was only completing 40 a day to your 600. That'd still be doing better than what he got by hiring the other guy full time.
     

    Would have been fun to see the effect of two people inputting data at the same time into such a system. I'm sure it would have caused all sorts of data integrity problems



  • @Sxooter said:

    It was 1992....

     

     

    This isn't really a WTF. No manager will ever recognise a valuable employee (at least in the short term) and reward them sufficiently. As far as they see it, you're young and easy to replace. (Or were, rather)



  • Actually, I'm pretty sure my immediate boss knew my value and wanted to keep me, but some idiot boss of his wanted the project finished early.  Probably was of the exact variety of boss you're talking about. 


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