Print Story Story Time - That Time I Dicked Around With Lasers
Working life
By Gedvondur (Fri May 15, 2020 at 06:27:04 PM EST) Working, Lasers, Dickheads, Petty Revenge (all tags)
A discussion of presidential assassination attempts and a laser pointer bring to mind an ill-advised prank I pulled on my boss in the 90s.


When I worked in electronics repair in the early 1990s, I had a boss who was the biggest micromanager but also totally inconsistent about micromanaging. The only thing consistent with his approach was his constant focus on how things looked to IT management “upstairs” as our offices and repair facility was in the basement. He was ex-military police and thought that our organization should subscribe to military-style command structure in the fact that when he said “hop” the proper response was to start hopping and ask if this was what he wanted. He was also a fairly short bodybuilder with a chip on his shoulder. He was a prick with very few redeeming qualities. Unsurprisingly, I didn't get along with him very well. He was my first “professional” boss and he broke me in a lot of ways that took years and better managers to fix. For purposes of this story, I’m gonna call him Gus.

One day, right away in the morning Gus walks around and asks us to clean up our benches, offices and the common area. Gus has a meeting with the VP of IT and it's gonna take place in Gus’s cubicle, which is about 20 feet in front of my repair bench. But all of us techs (4 of us) faced the row of cubes Gus was in. This will be important later.

Now our VP of IT was a guy we’ll call Anthony for this story. He was in his late 50s, Italian, swarthy, clean shaven, with a much-receded hairline, shiny head and a still-dark fringe of hair. He was heavy-set with a sizable gut. He wore dark blue suits, some lightly pinstriped, some not. Dark, striped tie, big double Winsor knot with a gold tie tack and chain. In addition to his plain gold wedding ring, he also wore an elaborate pinky ring. In short, Anthony was an Italian mobster boss straight out of central casting.

Now despite his appearance, Anthony was a great guy. Always friendly, never talked down to you, would always give your ideas a listen. I always found him to be great to talk to. He was smart and politically wiley. But for some reason Gus was terrified of him. I don’t know if it was because Gus was such a suck-up or if Anthony had shown him that he wasn’t a pushover at some point. I could see either - Gus was the kind of guy that liked to play pack dominance games. If you didn’t push back, he’d walk all over you and his shenanigans would get worse.

So in preparation of the august event of having the VP IT ride the elevator two floors down to the basement, we half-heartedly cleaned up the worst of the clutter. We made enough of a show to keep Gus from saying anything but not enough to keep him from grimacing at us. After a half hour of that, we all retired to our benches to get some actual work done. That day, I was helping one of the other techs who was swamped.

We were working on Symbol LS7000II point and shoot laser barcode scanners. These babies dated from the late 70s or early-mid 1980s and featured a *real* helium neon (HeNe) laser tube. Nine times out of 10, all that was wrong with these beige monsters was a bad cord. Occasionally you’d run into a bad laser tube. In either case, you’d check it and adjust it back to specs. But if you wanted to play around and remove the diffuser, you could focus it down to a bright red dot, like you’d see on weapons. It had a huge range and this was the days before the little hand held laser pointers, so it was fun to play with them sometimes. I had three of them disassembled on my bench and a whole big bin of them to go through. The tech I was helping had a similarly sized bin to go through. Probably there were 50-75 scanners that needed to be checked, repaired, cleaned up and put back into inventory as spares.

The appointed time rolls around and Anthony is nowhere to be seen. Gus is clearly nervous, standing up and sitting down. I can only see his eyebrows and the top of his head over the cube walls. He’s pacing in the little 10 foot cube. He gets a call from Anthony’s assistant. He’s going to be late and have less time, due to another meeting overrun. Gus isn’t happy, but not much he can do about it. He comes out and brates us all that the place isn’t clean enough yet, singling me out because my bench is closest to his office. He’s still nervous and it's time to take it out on the bench technicians. Fine. We dutifully dick around cleaning for another 10 minutes before retiring to our work benches again.

A few minutes later, Anthony sweeps into the shop, sees Gus and detours over to us by the benches. He quickly chats everyone up, shakes hands and spends a few minutes chatting innocently while Gus hovers near him with a fake smile and tries to act like talking to us was his idea. Anthony mostly ignores him past the initial greeting. After a few minutes, Anthony glances at his watch and looks at Gus, who invites him over to his cubicle for the meeting.

They walk over and I hear Anthony say he’s only got a few minutes and declines to sit down. Now from my vantage point, I can see Gus’s eyebrows and head, and I can see Anthony’s shiny pate from the eyebrows up as well. They are talking in low tones, but with the radio on and the distance I can’t hear what they are saying. I get an evil thought. Gus has been a prick (normal for him) and a nervous wreck all morning (not normal for him). He also picked on me specifically not 20 minutes ago. So I focus the scan gun I’m working on down to a point and remove the diffuser. Raising up my right hand with the scan gun in it, I project a red dot onto Anthony’s shiny pate, where Gus can see it. Slowly I move it back and forth. I can see Gus’s head moving slightly in time with my movements of the laser. Gus is doing some kind of pitch to Anthony. While I can’t hear what Gus is saying, I can hear he’s pitching an idea. I move the laser around more and I hear Gus’s rhythm break and he stutters to a stop. I snap off the laser. My fellow technicians see what I’m doing and stare in wonder. The other two quickly grab scan guns and take them apart: We are all working on them now.

When Gus starts to speak again, I shoot the dot back onto Anthony’s head. I keep doing this and Gus keeps losing his rhythm, doing a lot of umms and ahhs. I blink the dot on and off Anthony’s head. Anthony starts to speak and I stop the laser. I quickly tune it back into a line and reinstall the diffuser. A few minutes later, Anthony strolls out of our shop with a wave to us. Gus comes out of his office and walks straight over to our benches and glares. We mostly ignore him and keep working on scan guns. All of us working on scan guns. He scowls and I pretend to notice him.

“How’d it go with Anthony?” I ask.

He stares at me, his fists clenched and his mouth kind of working. All of us have line of sight to his cubicle. Any of us could have done it. I’m just the closest. We are all diligently at our work.

“Good. It went good” he eventually spits out, his mouth a thin line and lips pale with anger. I just nod, looking back down at the scan gun I’m screwing together. He lingers another moment and then leaves the department, slamming the door behind himself.

I found out *much* later from another manager that he was pitching Anthony to outsource our entire department to a 3rd party. The department he, Gus, manages. He thought he’d save so much money that he’d get promoted and not laid off with the rest of us. Apparently, his pitch had been disjointed and that contributed to the rejection of the proposal. Not the primary reason it was rejected, but one of the reasons. He barely spoke to us for a blessed week. Serves the prick right for trying to cost all of us our jobs for a promotion. He never mentioned the red dot on Anthony’s forehead.

*Just a safety note, I couldn’t angle the laser into Anthony’s eyes, there was no chance of it. It was a fairly low-power unit beam. Probably shouldn’t have chanced it anyway, but I can’t change what happened.
< grades done, now i just have to write | LO IS A COLLEGE GRADUATE >
Story Time - That Time I Dicked Around With Lasers | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden)
+1 FP by ObviousTroll (4.00 / 3) #1 Fri May 15, 2020 at 10:52:24 PM EST
A good story time. 

An Angry and Flatulent Pig, Trying to Tie Balloon Animals
I love it. by iGrrrl (4.00 / 1) #2 Mon May 18, 2020 at 04:20:14 PM EST
Plus plausible deniability for all!

"Beautiful wine, talking of scattered everythings"
(and thanks to Scrymarch)

Story Time - That Time I Dicked Around With Lasers | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden)