Over the last few months at work, our project has had a huge amount of energy, swearing and groaning thrust into it, and is rapidly approaching its climax. We are now at the point sometimes known as “short strokes”. There isn’t much left but a final bout of grinding and sweating, before we (as developers) push out the final product, then make some half-arsed promise to the publisher about “keeping in touch” and “staying friends” … we will then lie about in a vaguely embarrassed manner, make some smalltalk, try and locate where our underwear fell, and ring for a cab.
I wasn’t particularly surprised to be called in on Sunday, to fix a couple of bugs that the publisher’s half-arsed QA department had eventually found. I mean: the game has been in testing for months, but it has taken them until about two days before submission to notice a few French spelling errors and a crash. Sigh.
The office is on the edge of an industrial park, near a train station and a college. It is a particularly quiet Sunday; the absence of industrious activity and noisy students makes things quite tranquil – even eerie.
As I pull up to the building, I hear a disembodied voice, floating on the wind like a ghost. A female voice. A Voice From Beyond.
Initially, I cannot quite fathom what the Not Of This Earth lady is attempting to communicate; but a few moments more of intent listening reveals that the lady is informing me that the Ghost-Train From Sheffield will be ten minutes late. It’s the tannoy system installed at the train station; normally drowned-out by the all the noise present during the week.
Thinking no more of this, I enter the building and trek up the stairs.
At the top of the stairs sits my boss. He has been in the building by himself for at least the last half hour or so. I’m the first programmer who has answered his telephone call.
He is quite pale. I ask him what’s up.
“I’m freaked out” he says. “I daren’t go back to my office. I keep hearing voices.”
I look carefully, to check if he is trying to be funny. I know he has a sense of humour, but it usually extends only as far as jokes about bodily functions.
It turns out he is serious.
I explain to him that the train station has had a lot of money spent on it recently, upgrading the technology – including the tannoy.
His face is a picture. His expression blurs from surprise, to realisation, to intense relief … to even more intense embarrassment.
“You’re going to tell everyone about this, aren’t you?”
He’s in for a shock when next month’s Company Newsletter is published.