Thursday, July 17, 2008

An expert's guide on proper Benching Techniques

Hmmm... Having worked in an IT company for well nigh six months, I feel I need to talk about this issue...The issue of *DUN DUN DUN* Benching!

Alright! I can almost hear what you're muttering there! What in the name of Merlin's spotted underpants is benching? Right? And if you're real smart and have figured out what it is, move over... let the ones who don't know be illuminated!

When a person enters the IT (Information Technology) field, the person has a million dreams shimmering like those suggestively clad item girls in Bollywood, before their eyes and a couple or more up their eyelashes and eyebrows as well! But once the training period is over, the 'person' who shall henceforth be referred to as the victim, finds that things are not quite what they seem.
During the 'Training' period, everything seems so perfect! We laud at every little accomplishment the company accomplishes...we wave pom-poms and festooned eyesores when ever there is someone from our company's higher management who comes on News or the papers for the right reasons. And we say to ourselves... What a wonderful world!

But the moment the Training is over... the victim finds himself (or herself) in such a state that the bliss of training is synonymous to the nostalgia that Adam must've felt when he was booted out of Eden for goofing around.

And if there is anybody out there who's been through this phase, they'll know what comes next.

The moment the 'training' period is over, the trainee (victim) is thrown into the mainstream even before he can say, "Hiawatha's army booties!"

And bless his words thus wisely uttered! It's WAR out there! If the company gets enough 'thick-waisted, pink-cheeked dunderheads' who're willing to pay a fortune for something that costs peanuts in reality, the trainee (victim) is thrown into the project and soon, he forgets all bliss and his entire life becomes one long C Program with its fair share of bugs that just spring up in a different place when stamped out once. And very soon... he starts feeling like a worn out teddy bear who's tumble drying.

But... if they're (un)lucky enough, the poor (in more ways than one) trainee (victim) is put in what is known in the IT realm as (cue for the Psycho background score here!) "The Bench"!

Now, the "benching" period can be anywhere between ten minutes to ten months (and more!). There are companies where the employees are given cabins and asked to await further instructions. But when the employee is an Entree Level Trainee and is obviously the least experienced one around, everyone makes sure they let him know who the real boss is!

In my company, I was asked to await further orders just like any other prospective "Bencher". And since there weren't enough 'projects', we weren't given cabins and so, had to make the best out of the couches that were there in the Lobby.

There will be times when the Bencher is asked to camp out at the lobby for quite a long duration. And mostly, trainees are put in bench together, so they generally have a good time(The lobby suffers minimal damage... most of the time).

But as time wanes and the number of benchers increases and the number of projects (and the couches in the lobby) don't, WAR is declared.

In these "Bench" Wars, it is not the strongest who survive but the most crafty. And I, having led an army of Benchers successfully and having ruled the couches for as long as I was there, think that I should share some points that I think are the ultimate when it comes to VICTORY in the War front!

  • Pioneering is good! If you find an empty couch in a place where nobody seems to be using them, go right ahead and jump into it (read sit daintily or decently). Who knows?! You may start a trend... and that could be a double edged sword! So, hold your ground when the crowd swells!

  • If you are forced to sit in the lobby for a long period of time (and benching is always a long period of time), make sure you take something to keep yourself occupied. It could be anything - Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment", Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace", Yuu Watase's "Fushigi Yuugi", Maxim (do read it discretely....please?), your kitchen list, sketches.... ANYTHING! Or you could even sit there and write this guide to better benching as you wane the hours away in those couches.

  • Never.... and I mean NEVER seem like you're lost. Not only shall the more cunning supposed 'co-workers' of yours covet your seat but word that you're sans a project shall spread like wildfire... and soon, the reasons why no manager wants you in their project shall also do the rounds... Like they care if the manager was as dumb as a dingo on weed! Rumours can be varied and can sometimes border on the truth... remember the time when you made fun of your team leader's touppe? That's what I'm talking about! Act like you're the boss... act as though "benching" is what you're being paid for... act as though you make the couches look good! And if the people are staring at you, it's most probably because they're jealous and you're unique!

  • Look around for cute looking guys (if you're a girl or gay; and girls should be your object of observation if you're a straight guy). If you find that none of the specimens who wander the lobbies are to your tastes, connect with friends who're already into the projects and slogging away for dear life! In my office, the young "Developer" recruits were always delectable! But make sure you don't lose your heart! If he finds you cute and well... makes a move, you can smile away dreamily and hope for a "happily ever after". But if he gives you the same amount of attention he gives that potted plant in the corner, please... Get real!

  • Bring over some weird songs in your iPod and set about memorizing them. It could be Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" (*winkwink nudgenudge* cute guys alert! :P) or Koyasu Takehito's "Sadame no Hoshi" (quite the song for the dignified 'bencher'). And if you're daring enough (and the security guy, patient enough) you can even sing them out loud! Here's where having a voice that goes off-key every third note helps. People will think twice before they approach you. And soon you'll have the couch to yourself! Hallelujiah! You've your own personal couch! What did I say! The Weirdos ultimately win!

Well... these are some tips that I followed and had the whole lobby for myself. And don't worry about scaring friends away... if they're really good friends, they'll not be scared at all! So have fun.. you!

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