"Man now thats a real shame, looks like somone threw away a perfectly good, non-protected class, middle aged, male US citizen engineer - who would have seen that coming?"
"Im sorry, Corporate has asked me to guard this dumpster to make sure none of you engineers can repurpose this equipment. Im making sure it gets sent to China for proper electronics recycling so we can meet our RoHS, Reach, lead free, dolphin safe, and citizens for a gluten free world initiatives - so sorry, you cant have anything.
I'm in this nifty out-of-the-building office to encourage my out-of-the-box innovative thinking. Management tells me that my magnetic building key is only temporarily disabled because of a minor security oversight that will soon be rectified.
There are some really witty entries which I can't really compete with but I remember hearing an anecdote which fits in with the theme, so I thought I'd share it. I hope I won't be lynched for hijacking the caption contest thread! :-)
It all goes back to about 20 years ago. An old and once prestigious, large electronics company with three letters in its name was slowly marching towards its death. They just didn't know it, yet. Their financial situation looked increasingly dire. It was also at the time when outsourcing was still in its infancy and large companies were still stocking parts and having their own production lines.
The story went something like this:
To reduce the value of inventory on their books, the company instituted a policy that any stock items which were not used up within a certain number of months after purchase, were to be written off and dumped. However, some enterprising staff member noticed that sometimes perfectly good parts are thrown out in the dumpster and he "rescued" good items and tried to make a bit of money by selling them, where he could.
As it happened, one day, an important order rolled in but it had to be delivered on a very short deadline and the company was scrambling to find all the required parts. In the end, they found all parts, except one which was on a very long lead time. Although, the missing part was of small value even in the required quantity, the order could not be completed without it. If they just hadn't scrapped hundreds of the very same part, a couple of weeks before!!
At this point, the enterprising staff member put up his hand that he COULD get those parts. Backed into the corner, the company agreed and bought the parts which enabled them to complete the order for the customer, get paid and live another day.
It was an unfortunate event for the company already on a financial knife's edge and it lead to questions. Management was angry and they set up a meeting to resolve the situation for the future.
The outcome was that they changed the scrapping policy so that before parts were dumped, they had to be physically destroyed, to stop stuff profiteering from it.
As a post script, later, I was talking to somebody else from the same company who had a different take on the above but I won't let that stand in the way of a good story!
The company itself struggled on for a few more years before eventually going under. I may have another anecdote concerning their demise but I'll save that for a rainy day. ;-)
My response to this cartoon is a caption which involves a tech-company general manager saying something like:
"Who cares about the discarded microprocessors, PCB boards, and system-racks. I want to know who took the finger-cots!"
True, this line would probably seem unfunny, and perhaps a bit perplexing, to most. But, it's actually based upon a long ( ... very long... ),compelling, and true-to-life story... of corporate mismanagement, which was tainted with just a bit of malicious perversity, at a company... where I used to work.
To protect the innocent ( ... and, to paraphrase a line from an old Peter Sellers movie, I'd like both of them to stand up and take a bow... ) I will not mention the name of that company. But I will say that working there was a bit like working in a hell. A true "Inferno".
And, for me, this caption is absolutely hilarious!
David Ashton said: @Douglas - it's very sad that so many commenters can relate this cartoon to true life situations!
"based upon a true-to-life"
In my case, I had almost always been an enthusiastic dumpster-diver, when it came to retrieving potentially useful components. Simply throwing this stuff away, to be thoughtlessly destroyed and pulverized beyond recognition, just seems to me to be a sort of sacrilege. And I can't resist... it's like rescuing a lost puppy...
... besides which, I've also always had plenty of projects, from festering ideas to WIPs, to feed them to. ( Just kidding! No puppies have ever been harmed in the course of working on my projects... at least none that I'm aware of. )
Anyway... this is a long story that I now feel compelled to explain ( apologies... I'll try to be as brief as possible ).
So my problem, I think, is that I was constantly in the naive habit of trying to make sure to be totally honest about it. If ever I found something unique or potentially valuable, I would always let my immediate supervisors, as well as the guy who managed the stockroom, know that I had found it. And I had always made it clear to them that if they wanted it back ( just in case the discard had been an error ) then they only had to ask.
None of them ever seemed to mind. Even though they always seemed to be throwing away a lot of stuff! Some of which I was even allowed, by one supervisor, to take home before it ended up in the trash-can.
I had even attempted to be fair, by not raiding the dumpsters every time I knew that they were clearing off some shelves, giving others a chance to "share-the-wealth". Of course, I would always still have to take a peek... and, oddly, no one else seldom ever touched the stuff. Not surprising, really... as most of the other technicians, there, seemed to get their kicks by destroying as much as they could get away with.
Then, one day... I found the dumpsters to be absolutely crammed with materials. A lot of it perfectly good stuff. Components, PCBs, fully populated modules, spools of wire, metal cases, front-panels and boxes of hardware, system-racks... a true treasure trove of electronic gold and jewels!
This was late in the day, after almost everyone else had gone home. So I dove in, and happily ( in a way that I imagine that only a few others, such as perhaps some folks here on these pages, can understand ) began sorting through it all. Finally, I ended up tossing anything and everything that looked remotely useful into the trunk of my car. Including... a few bags of what seemed to be, through the dark plastic packaging, some oddly skin-colored O-rings ( these things were apparently once used by the folks in assembly, in place of full latex gloves... I, myself, worked in a different department ).
It took a return trip to retrieve this haul. Luckily, at that time, I owned an actual home to take it back to. And, as usual, I let my immediate supervisor know ( this was at a time after that one other supervisor had left the company, for unknown reasons ).
Then, awhile later, I was called into the office of one of the general managers... a typical business-head sort of a guy.
He knew ( as did most everyone else ) that I had "dumpster-dived" that lot of materials. Except that, rather than being really concerned about any of the electronic materials that I had recovered, he seemed particularly... perhaps somewhat obsessively... concerned about the "finger-cots".
And he wanted to know exactly why I had taken them.
When I explained that I didn't actually know what they were, that apparently didn't satisfy him. He didn't want them back... but still, his displeasure at my having taken them was nonetheless obvious.
That meeting then ended with his directive that I was expressly forbidden from ever going near the dumpsters again. His reasons were "safety-concerns"... after all, the dumpsters tended to be somewhat unsafe and unsanitary ( which, for me, as a lab-technician who used to work with agricultural wastes and cattle-ranch by-products, was a non-issue ). And, for some while thereafter, they would often go to great lengths to make a show of having some of the technicians ( the guys who liked destroying things ) render discarded materials totally unusable.
Because of "finger-cots"?
Why... I don't know. Removed from the bags, the things look simply like uninflated skin-colored party-balloons, or perhaps they looked like some really tiny sort of......
@Douglas - great (but sad) story. I've had exactly the same sort of #$@%-head boss too. One time he and some other managers decided our stores needed "Tidying up". They chucked out current radio equipment, power supplies, spares.....(no finger cots though :-) so I disobeyed the express instruction not to remove anything and quietly rescued all the useful stuff and put it back in our store. No one ever noticed. And people wonder why I equate managers to #$@%-heads unless they prove themselves otherwise.
The #$@%-head in question has since left. And I discovered that most of the rest of the department had much the same opinion as I had. You can't fool all of the people all of the time....
A Book For All Reasons Bernard Cole1 Comment Robert Oshana's recent book "Software Engineering for Embedded Systems (Newnes/Elsevier)," written and edited with Mark Kraeling, is a 'book for all reasons.' At almost 1,200 pages, it ...