Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A Pirate looks at 28

The Captain stepped out of her quarters into the fresh morning air, on a ship somewhere off the coast. She took just a minute to take in the view. It was a beautiful day, the type of day that reminds a pirate why she sails the open seas, searching for bounty. What a life!

"What a life, indeed!" she thought, as she made her way down to the galley. She had hit her knee on her captain's table a few nights ago, and had developed a limp. She found that it helped her feel more like a pirate, and had begun toying with the idea to continue limping when her knee healed.

Down in the galley, she could hear lots of work being done, which always made her cheerful.

"Captain!"

She swiveled around to find to find a rather odd looking pirate in a business shirt and "colorful but appropriate" tie, sporting a parrot on his right shoulder. It was Bonney, her galley crew manager, and his parrot Peetie.

"Captain ! The galley has finished module 8 and is now working on module 9! Harr!"

"Harr! Harr!" squawked Peetie.

"Ahead of schedule again, eh? Excellent, extra Chinese take-out for all tonight!" she shouted in her best Pirate Captain voice. A raucous cheer erupted from the programmer's cubicles. It was, of course, Thursday, which was take-out night in the mess hall.

Bonney smiled broadly. The man always had so much enthusiasm, this is why he makes such a good galley manager now. The programmers seemed to respond to his use of pirate imagery. Of course, his name wasn't always Bonney, but he picked the nickname before they set sail using an internet quiz. She had taken the same quiz, but her name, "Dirty Mary Cash", did not sound appropriate for a Pirate Captain.

They all had normal names once, when they were all mild-mannered, landlocked IT professionals. At the time, the company was having trouble competing with companies that outsource their IT jobs offshore. In fact, the newest fad was to fill up cruise ships with programmers who could stay in international waters but travel between gigs, giving both the benefit of outsourcing and also the ability to "grab the programmer by the throat" if needed. The only way to compete, they reasoned, was to be smarter, and they commenced an optimization project to find the answer. Of course, most people thought it was just another benign improvement project that would not go anywhere, and did not take it seriously.

She was the one that brought up the pirate ship idea in the first place. As the project manager, she had meant to show by example what type of "out-of-the-box" thinking was expected at the planning sessions. It was a joke, meant to at least earn a few chuckles. One thing was for sure, she could never have imagined the super-positive reaction that it received from management.

That was how "Project Ahab" was born. And in six months (ahead of schedule and below budget mind you) the Jolly Raider was launched off the San Fransisco coast, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company.

Long ago, she had been tested as most likely to be either a ship captain or in IT. Who would have thought that she could be both? She laughed to herself, adjusted her pirate hat, and limped towards the Ops Bridge.

4 comments:

Mary said...

This is a good one, Lori. You are such a good writer.

Sissy said...

Good writing. The "hook" pulls you in and it dawns slowly that the piece is about something entirely different than sailors and sailing.

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