Passing the Buck

Years ago (in the mid-1990′s I think), I was doing a contract for a client that developed their own touch-screen technology for the food service industry. I had submitted a draft of the documentation for review to a client with a one-week turn-around. A week later, I sat in the client’s meeting with the heads of various departments and prepared to receive their comments.

Project Lead: I didn’t have time to review it, so I gave it to the head of Marketing.

Marketing Lead: Reviewing the Guide wasn’t really our job, so we gave it to the head of QA.

QA Lead: We didn’t have time to review it, so we gave it to the programmer.

Programmer: I’m too busy with coding to be reading the Guide, so I gave it to the Project Leader.

Embarrassed, the Project Leader turned to me and said “We’re very sorry for wasting your time. Charge us for the whole day and give us another week.”

One week later, I returned to their meeting room and all the same people were there, except they looked really angry. Apprehensively, I awaited their feedback.

Project Lead: I’ve been hearing horrible things about this Guide, so I’m going to let Marketing have their first crack at listing the problems.

Marketing: Reviewing the Guide is *still* not our job, so I don’t know why you even asked us again! We gave it to QA because finding bugs is their job!

QA Lead: Our job is to test the application, not find typos! We’re already overloaded without having to read the Guide! We gave it to the programmer. He’s the one who should know if the Guide is correct or not!

Programmer: This Guide is useless and a piece of crap!

Project Lead: So you did review it this time?

Programmer: Well… no. But I showed it to my mother and she *hated* it.

Horrified, the Project Lead said “I’m very, very sorry to waste your time again. Charge us for the day and I’ll have comments for you by the end of the week, you have my word.” As I walked out, the programmer was getting his head taken off by all the department heads. I finished up the project that month and they were quite satisfied with the work.

A couple of months later, I was paying for my meal at a restaurant when I noticed the cashier was having trouble punching it in. I gave her some advice on how to punch in the order, and when it worked, she looked at me incredulously and asked “How did you know that?”

I reach to the side of the cash register and pulled out the client-printed User Guide and stated “Because I wrote this!”

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