Tunnel Rat posted on October 23, 2007 16:06

We resume our regularly scheduled programming to bring you the rest of “The One Week Job”…

Two or three times a week, The Captain would order in or make lunch for the staff. One day it was pizza, another day he would send someone to Costco to bring back burgers and hotdogs that he would grill out on the deck of the medical claims clearinghouse.

It was his way of keeping everybody working, instead of slipping out for a leisurely lunch at 1000 Steps Beach, which was around the corner.

You see, he could spring for a lunch that averaged $5 a person, and they would be back at their desk in 20 minutes, meaning he netted an extra 40 minutes of time that would have been spent by an employee doing whatever they wanted to do.

The Captain was a sly little bitch.

I knew it after my first interview with him, when he said his plan was to sell the business. He was in it for the money. Ramp up a bunch of crap code, sign up a bunch of clueless doctors, play fast and loose with their claims, and then dump the whole operation on WebMB, Molina, UnitedHealth, or some other clusterfuck of a medical company that was making a killing on the sad state of healthcare.

So there I was, day three in The Box, eating a Costco burger and watching a 40’ Bayliner make it’s way to Newport. The rest of the staff was on the deck that lined the building with their paper plates and drinks, huddled in groups of two or three. The Captain pulled up a bar stool and sat next to me.

“Well, the moment has come, I told you it was going to happen.”

“Uh?”

“Our guy gave notice today,” he said. He was talking about Taylor. Dogboy.

“Oh, yeah…When is his last day?”

“Friday.”

“Two days?”

“Yeah.” He took a bite of his hotdog and gazed at Catalina. “What do you think, does all this stuff make sense, now that you’ve had some time to look at it?”

Not really. In fact, none of it makes sense, Captain. It is one nasty rat’s nest of shit you got here, sweetie.

But I refrained.

“Sure, to an extent, but we really need to get all this hard-coded stuff cleaned up,” I told him.

“Huh?”

“Yeah, there’s a lot of cleaning up to do…”

He stood up, grabbing his plate. “Well, you do what you gotta do. You got him ‘till Friday.” He winked.

What the fuck are you winking at, I wanted to ask. And what the hell was I supposed to do in two days, form a mild-meld with Dogboy? Suck all the hacks that he had been throwing together for years out of his feeble little brain? Beg him not to leave?

I went back to my desk and thumbed through the HIPAA spec the Captain had dumped on me:

The map definition allows users to translate a file from the UB92 Version 5.0 format to the HIPAA 837 Institutional format, while also validating the input for completeness, as well as syntax and code validation. Additional effort has been made to provide a 1:1 mapping ratio of the UB92 fields to HIPAA 837 elements.

Jeez, what a fuckin’ nightmare. I check the code to see if they were using XML or something to map the fields, BizTalk, MapForce, something.

Nothing, nada. It was all hard-coded bullshit:

If MAP=’ HIPAA_A1_837P_to_RMAP_2_A1_837P’ Then
GOTO Update_Map837
Else
GOTO Update_Map837P
End If

My neck started throbbing. The damn phones were ringing off the hook.

GOTO?

Jesus Fuckin’ Christ…

Who the hell writes GOTOs? I thought that they had been banned in 1995 or something. I checked the comments…ah, Dogboy had laid claim to this crap.

And here was Trevor, the high school kid, in this mosh pit of code, adding his pearls of logic:

IIF(RMAP_2_A1_837P = ‘23384’, IIF(RMAP_3_1_837C=’433A’,
True, False), False)


Thanks for the nested Immediate Ifs, asshole.

It was all pungent, rotting spaghetti code, hacks upon hacks.

Ringboy walked by me and nodded, on his way outside for a smoke. God, I wanted a cigarette. But I had quit years ago, replacing the habit with a daily Macanudo.



Two days later I was still clawing my way through the code. It was Friday afternoon, and I was beat.

The Captain was walking around handing out Coronas to some of the staff. Hey, I thought, maybe he wasn’t such a slimy bitch after all, letting the crew drink a few cold ones on a hot summer afternoon.

But shit, he sure was taking his time passing those beers around. He started with Ringbrow, leaning over his cube and setting the bottle on his desk and having a few words.

And then he moved on to some guy that sat in a cube between Ringbrow and me. Anthoneeee. Total flamer. There were a few on the staff – The Captain sorta collected them. Early-twenties, very fem. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Yeah, yeah, I know you guys are waiting to flame me....

But The Captain did have a lot of guys that looked like
Agador Spartacus working there.

So, I can't really agree with the homophobic charge, but I do have an issue with all those gays in the fashion industry getting to pick the models -- WTF! Who ever said a skinny ass bitch that looks like she just got out of Auschwitz is hot? Jeez -- those models look like 12-year boys! Its freakin' sick. Come on gay guys, get some models with tits and asses. We straight guys are sick of looking at what you think is hot.

So, anyway, I waited, acting like I was working, watching the Captain make small talk with Anthoneeee.

Geez, will you get on with it, asshole? I am so ready for a fuckin’ beer. All week long, with HIPAA, GOTOs, IIFs – come on already. It’s beer-thirty, bitch.

It was like a ceremony, The Captain making the rounds, letting the staff play kiss-ass (and kiss whatever else, I assumed). Screw it, I thought. I caught a glimpse of some folks slipping into the break room. I headed that way.

Ringbrow was there, cracking open his second Corona, along with a few other data-diddlers. “Hey, wassup, guys,” I said, opening the fridge.

“Not much, dude,” one of them said.

“Got an opener?” I asked.

“Na, sorry.” They walked out.

I started pilfering the drawers, looking for an opener, hoping the Captain wouldn’t come back for another round of his ass-kissing bait.

Man, this place was creepy…

Finally, I found an opener hanging off the side of the fridge, and I headed back to my desk. People were still working, sipping beers but still taking calls or diddling data.

Man, it’s five already. What is up with this place? Fuckin’ sweatshop…
The Captain strolled by, beer in hand. He paused at my desk.

“Uh, I see that you, uh, helped yourself.”

“Yeah, thanks,” I said, smiling.

He stood there, nodding. For like, thirty fucking seconds. No small talk, just awkward nodding. Bobblehead. I started nodding, and biting my lip.

Damn, this was weird…

Finally, he moved on, handing the beer to the another boy toy, a skinny guy with a streak of blond that was dyed down the middle of his scalp. “Here you go, Chaaaad, it looks like you could you use a cold one…”

I slammed my beer and logged off.

To be continued…


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