too many words by laura lemay

badge of (dis)honor

(See the Bug Bash site (archived) for the original comic)

I love this particular comic more than I probably should.

A long time ago I used to work for a large unix workstation manufacturer I like to affectionately call Stupid Company. Then because I was a moron I just recently went back to work for them again for a couple of years. (learning from one’s mistakes: something higher-order mammals are supposedly good at. ook.)

Like many large companies, Stupid Company has a corporate campus of many buildings arranged around a central courtyard. The courtyard is actually quite lovely; grass, benches, lots of places to hang out and not work.

Also just like every corporate campus everywhere, each of the buildings has electronic doors, so in order to get into the buildings you need your badge. However, the buildings are also locked from the courtyard side, so you need to badge in there, too. There is no way into the courtyard except through a building, so in order to get to the courtyard in the first place you would have had to badge in earlier. But no. Badge badge badge. You also have to badge into the cafeteria and the gym, also on the inside of the courtyard. Stupid Company is very secure. (well, except for the wireless network, which is accessible from the far end of the parking lot. Don’t ask me why I know this.) Oh, I should also mention: no connections between the buildings. To get from building to building you go into the courtyard and into the next building, badging in at each step. Also a whole lot of Stupid Company employees took the “no tailgating” rule seriously — they wouldn’t let you follow them into the cafeteria unless you showed your badge! No bad chinese food for you today!

When I was at Stupid Company I worked in a building that, because of layoffs, did not have its own receptionist. So if you forgot your badge you would have to go to the receptionist next door and beg for a temporary badge (see cartoon above). The receptionist would let you into that building. Then you would go out into the courtyard…and get trapped.

I forgot my badge a few times while I was there, and it’s particularly humiliating to have to stand by the courtyard door in the rain hoping someone will come by and let you into your own building, waving your temporary badge at them through the glass to prove that you’re not some high tech courtyard vagrant (“will code for food”). I’m pretty sure they did it to make sure you were so frightened of forgetting your badge you simply never, ever took took it off. Just embed the damn smart card in my butt! I don’t care! Don’t make me stand in the rain any more!

Please note that I resisted the temptation to use the really obvious “no stinkin badges” title to this post, as appropriate as it would have been. You may congratulate me below.