What’s a piece of wooden or metal furniture, which mostly offers several persons seating called?
Ladies & Gentleman, unless you are living in the stone age, you would know the answer to that question and it is ‘Bench’. Even if you live in the stone age, you would have sat on it, of course you wouldn’t know its hallowed name. Anyway, what an interesting journey our ‘bench’ had – from gracing the rough and hairy bottom of early man (and woman too!) to modern day bits and butts of wannabe software engineers.
In the course of it’s journey, ‘bench’ has taken on a new meaning altogether. From a humble seating tool of the most elementary kind (read stone) , ‘bench’ now bestows pride of place to the most exalted of workers – the software engineers. It is an accepted rite of passage, a ritual to mark the transition of an human being from college kid with scraggly beard to a respected programmer with a scraggly beard! It acts as a cushioning agent, protecting it’s users from zealous deployment managers intent on separating people from their comfort zones.
It is a mother, a father, a brother, the promised land, call it what you will! It is BENCH. To be ‘benched’ means to be marked up for greater things in life. It is a dichotomy, a two faced Harvery Dent of the software world in that it is where most engineers want to be yet don’t want to be! Its patrons refuse to accept that they are ‘benched’ yet they don’t want to leave its warmth. Warmth?? Yes, it has already been warmed up by someone else before you arrived! Kursi garam rakho yaar…
Now, you – my patient readers would think I am some kind of manager in a large MNC making fun of the only place in the corporate that is not funny at all! Relax my friends, I am not a manager, much less a deployment guy.
I, friends, Romans, and countrymen, was a humble bencher until the corporate won over and put me to work. Thus ended my days of pasture where I could graze quietly and contemplate life. Also ended my lazy, hazy, and dreamy days where I could ‘cook’up inane ideas for uplifting myself- like funky skits that parody the very life I was going to live, the silly crosswords that revealed that I did not know how to spell, the endless cups of free chai and kaapi that bled the machine dry!
Gone are those glorious days of playing truant while managers frantically searched for me and zeroed in on some unsuspecting bencher. Those warm, innocent, and happy days lasted just 2 months before duty called and I rose to the occasion. Instead, what remains is a fond memory of those days and a wistful nostalgia for days gone by! Okay, enough reminiscing.
I think I am growing old…in 2008. Cut to 2009 and it’s a different world. The corporates have decided that they would make bench hotter than hell and definitely hotter than Bipasha Basu! In the name of progress they have decided to promote people quickly -from bench to chair
Yes, shorter bench leads to quicker, faster, & more work – leads to happy corporate – leads to unhappy employee. What seemed like an eternal honeymoon lasting upto 2 years in the good old days, now is a brief affair before the inevitable divorce! Vanishing clients & shrinking profit lines have prompted MNCs to move people out of bench and into chairs quicker than before. Focus is on ‘billing’,that which hits the client , and utilization , that which hits you!
In plain jargon, billing is the amount of money your company charges the client for putting you to work and utilization is the number of hours you worked on the project. So, the number of hours you worked multiplied by your per hour rate is what the company earned from your efforts. It’s not as simple as I put it but it serves our purpose. Therefore, the shorter you are on bench, the better it is for the corporate.
Typically bench period lasts upto 3 months, giving corporates the necessary time to locate projects with suitable requirements across their landscape and deploy you. Sometimes it is immediate – unfortunately, while at other times it is longer than a Himesh Reshammiya song. The trick is to patiently hone your skills and network with higher-ups so that you get deployed quicker. The interim period could be utilized for any activity one chooses to indulge in. It could be as mundane as mugging up tech fundaes or as interesting as chatting up with bench friends in other companies, creating Facebook/Orkut profiles (I did), celebrating Birthdays, staring at your shrinking bank balance, or a gorgeous Mallika Sherawat on the sly!
Yes sirs and madams, bench is the only place where you can all the things you ever wanted to do in life but didn’t know where to do them!
Welcome to the bench…Come sit!
Image Credit: Helmet 13