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Code Confidential: The Time the Dev Team had (my) Explosives.

I traded drugs for explosives way back in the day providing some fun little government issued fire crackers, aka "boom-booms". About half the size of a large magic marker these little tubes could put a 3 foot deep hole in the blacktop.

So not fucking around.

The internals consisted of gun powder. I would have blown myself up otherwise, my sloppy handling would have not been tolerated by real nitroglycerin.

My current dev shop job put me in the middle management tier. I worked close with the dev team and even wrote code as needed. These guys (and one girl) had a propensity for explosives, alcohol, and drugs. The place was a mental asylum where I remember being required to drink large shots of 100+ proof Tequila before 9am. The game frequently was a punishment for being last in the office or to unlock a new skill such as "learn where your keys are hidden".

It should be no surprise the my little micro-bombs soon found there way into various hiding spots in the office via the dev team. The presence of a boom-boom was a source of great casual pranks such as disabling a computer and taping the boom-boom on the inside with a LED clock attached to look like a bomb.

"I don't know what is wrong with your desktop, let's open it up and see is something is unplugged?"

One week the dev team got a new nerf gun that had dart ammo that was almost identical in color and size to the boom-booms. When both of these items were in your hand the similarity made it was clear that a prank was required, a good one.

Since everyone, even management, knew that the dev team had explosives and very well could identity the boom-booms the prank was made easy.

The culture was one of endurance over intelligence. In this particular shop the focus was production of mostly enterprise applications and websites. All big ticket items with multi-year expensive SLA, not too far from an agency grind but with some real programming and occasional QA (no tests). Product quality was a reflection of group sobriety, testing was dependent on weather or not we had the staff, and management was all too ready to spark up a joint anytime. It felt like Enron through the looking glass run from a bar with owners leading the charge.

So there I stood outside of the door of a shop owner. He was working away like most of us this cold February night. As I caught his attention he saw the boom-boom, then raising my other hand revealed a lighter. Using the lighter as a distraction, flicking it on for dramatic flare, the boom-boom was swapped for a nerf dart. The lighter was lit and slowly moved closer to the other hand where contact was eventual made to simulate ignition. The ignited nerf dart was then thrown to an unreachable part under the desk while I laughed maniacally and closed his door. There I sit on the other side of the door holding it closed tightly and laughing out of control while he screamed to be let out. My blockade lasted only a few seconds, but during that short period tears rolled down my face laughing uncontrollably.

Most of my best memories in development are from the people I met and the experiences we had together. Not all jobs are grit, not all bosses are maniacs, but one can hope. #CodeConfidential

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