Both Dale and I watched a young man walk a little too briskly towards the main sliding doors of the technology park's office tower and heard the thunk he created when the slow reacting sensor above the door didn't open the doors for him with enough urgency.
We had both looked away to try and lessen his embarrassment when he saw me waiting across the foyer for a lift, and up he strode.
'No coming back from that.' I said. 'If that was me I'd be going home for the day.'
'Right,' he said. 'What brings you on site?'
'Some days I split my work between here and the office. I find if I schedule my changeover around the middle of the day, I can get away with having an early lunch in town and then a late lunch here without anyone noticing.'
Dale looked at me sadly.
'What's wrong?' I asked. 'Don't tell me you've turned into one of those clock punchers who won't charge a client for time spent taking a dump.'
'I'm jealous.' Dale admitted. 'Plus, I'm being tormented by Miguel. I...' He trailed off.
'Want to talk about it?' I sensed my friend needed some sympathy. 'I've just had two lunch breaks, but, we can go get a coffee?'
The technology park's cafeteria was uncrowded, bathed in the gold by the mid-afternoon sun. Dale clutched his coffee in his hands like a crime scene witness being helped by police.
'It seems like I'm doing all Miguel's work on top of my own.' He told me. 'That means I'm doing, like, a whole person's work. We have a team meeting twice a week and he manages to dish off all his tasks to me. He's like an evil John Stockton. Yesterday he somehow had all his testing tasks assigned to me. I don't have any testing experience on my CV; I don't know how he talked Karl into approving that.'
'Weren't you a tester for a while on the POTS project?' I asked. 'Did you learn anything from that?'
'I learnt it would be best to leave "Testing" off my CV.'
'Well, if you're desperate to escape testing you can always try the housework escape plan.'
'What's that?' asked Dale.
'Just something I learnt from my younger brother growing up. When he was old enough my parents started assigning him chores, but while he would begrudgingly vacuum and tidy he completely resented washing dishes and mopping. Every time our parents asked him to do the jobs he didn't like he would do the shittiest job possible. Moral? They quickly stopped asking him to mop and wash.'
'But if I'm bad at my job, won't I get fired?' Dale asked.
'You've been with this company for, what, five years now? You've passed your probation period, everyone knows your name and they're confident you're not a psychopath or a moron. They'll choose to live with it. Like, what were my parents going to do? Have another kid?
'The trick,' I continued. 'Is to be terrible from your first attempt. If they have nothing to compare it to they'll have to assume you're just incompetent at the one thing you don't like doing. And Miguel will never be able to pass you testing work again.'
'Wow, you seem to have this all figured out.' Dale said. 'Do you have a strategy to stop my co-workers from following me to the shops at lunch?'
'I might. Are you sure that happens?'