Bob turned the key on his old, white Prius and headed out of the drive. Today was not the day to be late for work and the 506 was only one nose-to-tail from being a carpark. The rain and stormy skies were not a good omen for Halloween Eve and the clock on the dash showed 4:45am. As the publications manager for MEGACORP, Bob was time-poor and under the pump. Reaching into an overflowing glovebox, he popped two heartburn pills and washed them down with cold coffee from a pumpkin travel mug. “I hate that mug,” he grizzled.

“You need more time off, Bob. You’re stressed and that ulcer isn’t going anywhere.” Yeah right, he thought. What would Doc know about my job! Every day I deliver little miracles for engineering, warranty, and the sales group. No thanks, no extra staff, just more demands for manuals as online and offline IETPs, 3D PDFs, and parts data that changes every day. Now delivery to tablets, tablets! “Sure, no problem boss.” He motioned angrily with his hands, spilling coffee onto the passenger seat.

The carpark was barren as he pulled up in his small work carpark. Gripping the steering wheel with a hold that would impress a Texas Rancher, he took a deep breath. Today was the big day, a game changer for his Tech Pubs Department. The new publishing system was going live. Purchased from a big software vendor with no expense spared, this system would save him from career oblivion. Sure, six months for installation and configuration was not exactly the turnkey setup the sales guy had promised, but it was finally in and ready to go. “It has everything you could want,” he had cooed. It had better. Every project’s dataset had been poured into this wiz-bang tool.

“Morning, Bob,” the security guard at the desk said cheerily. Of course he’s happy, he thought, he’s not presenting to the Executive today, justifying the high price of the new software. His hands were sweaty on the grip of his beaten up briefcase. Is it hot in here? he wondered, unbuttoning his suit jacket.

Trudging down the corridor to his tiny office, Bob noted each shade of beige, off-white, and cream on the walls and roof panels that herded him to the faux wooden door of his tiny office. Turning on the light, he was welcomed by the comforting hum of fluorescent lights. Starting his aging laptop, Bob opened his email. A cold rush of air swept through the room and the lights flickered before leaving him in the dark. Before he could stumble to the light switch, the lights pulsed back into life.

What the heck? Bob thought, returning to his desk. Open and waiting on the screen sat an email from the Executive. Bob’s heart skipped a beat. With shaking hands he scrolled through the email, each word racing in his head until he saw the words ‘Change of Agenda’… He started reading.

“Mr. Cartwright, we (the Executive Team) have expanded our expectations of your presentation today. Following input from our business unit managers, we expect to see the following items demonstrated today:”

The list read like a publishing wish list from the devil himself. Publish SGML and XML content, distribute the IETPs to unlimited devices including PCs and tablets, remotely update or delete the IETPs… The room was starting to spin. Clutching the desk, Bob tried to focus. Change packaging, automatic IPD generation, TIR and CIR’s. “I’m going to throw up,” he said to no-one.

Before he could process the requirement for legacy ATA iSpec 2200 data mixed with S1000D and integrated QA, he was startled by the shrill ring of his desk phone. Like a man trying to pick up a copperhead, Bob gingerly lifted the phone to his ear. “Hello?” he croaked. “We will see you at 7am for your presentation, Bob,” the voice whispered. The line went dead and the lights went out.

Bob’s iPhone buzzed a gentle alarm and showed 7am. Jumping from bed, Bob strode to the kitchen. With a smile, he noted the clear blue sky out the window. The kids will have a blast this Halloween, he thought. Placing the key to his red Tesla S into his pocket, he filled his OneStrand coffee mug, as he considered the nightmare that had woken him during the night. Wow, imagine working like that, he joked to himself.

Across the road, Alan turned the key on his old, white Prius and headed out of the drive…


Michael Halter
Product Development Manager
Absolute Data Group