Getting Slimed At Work

After coming back from lunch at my non-writing tech job, I noticed a pair of heavy-duty hoses running from the men restroom, up a ladder in the hallway and into the plenum space above the dropped ceiling. I carefully stepped past the hoses and warily watched the ceiling tiles as I made my way back to my desk. I remembered the last time the AC units got worked on and rubber hoses ran through the plenum space at a different company, where someone almost got slimed at work.

While working as a video game tester at Accolade/Infogrames/Atari (same company, different owners, multiple identity crises) in the late 1990’s, I became the intermediary between the Q.A. and I.T. departments when the company was still called Accolade at the Stevens Creek Boulevard office in San Jose. A long-running love/hate relationship had developed between the testers and the techs over the years. The biggest complaint then was that the techs ran a Diablo game server that slowed down the entire network during the lunch hour. The testers can’t read Blues News if the network crawled like molasses.

Management decided to upgrade the network infrastructure by replacing the network operating system (NOS), Netware (which didn’t allow more than 254 computers) with Windows NT Server (which was surprisingly stable for a Microsoft operating system), and changing the physical network from 10Base100 (10Mb over thin coaxial cable) to 100BaseT (100Mb over twisted pair cable) to increase the available bandwidth.

Since the techs weren’t welcome in the Q.A. department, my job was to upgrade all the computers with the new network cards and plug them into the wall. If a network issue went beyond the wall, I had to walk over to the I.T. department and try to convince them that the problem was on their end.

One day I was talking to the I.T. manager about something. His work area in the corner of a narrow room had a Viewsonic 21″ monitor. A very big, very nice and very expensive monitor. CRT monitors like that cost about $2,000 USD in 1998. A few years later, I would get a Viewsonic 19″ monitor for $400 USD. Since I wasn’t welcome to stand inside the tech room, I stood outside the doorway to talk him.

We were, in fact, talking about his new monitor when something started banging around in the plenum space to violently shake the ceiling tile. He pushed himself away from his desk to roll back in his chair. The ceiling tile broke into big chunks that gave away as green goo slimed his new monitor. We both got out of there. I left him alone as he had a complete meltdown over his ruined monitor.

The maintenance crew transferred coolant fluid between AC units on the roof by using an ordinary garden hose that had a weak spot that ballooned with green goo before exploding. Not sure why the hose through the plenum space and not on the rooftop. As for the I.T. manager, he went back to his old 17″ monitor.