Right after college I worked (through a temp agency) for a rinky-dink shipping company that hadn’t quite gotten with the 21st century yet. Most of what I did involved manipulating data in a set of spreadsheets, so that that data could be fed to the company’s SAP system. I realized within two weeks that everything they hired me to do could be done by a set of fairly simple VB scripts. So I wrote those scripts, and never told my bosses about them.
Every day I’d get in, spend the first ten minutes running my scripts, and then gradually over the course of the day turn in the results. Needless to say, this left me with a lot of downtime. I’d end up spending most of the day hiding in one of the storage rooms working on grad school applications. When I got bored with that, though, I’d go exploring through the stuff they had stashed back there. For reasons I wasn’t clear on, they had printed out and stored nearly every email that nearly every permanent employee in the company had ever sent, in hundreds and hundreds of banker’s boxes. I ended up opening random boxes, reading through the emails, and then grading them in red pen, correcting the grammar and spelling and leaving comments like “This work is unacceptable. I know you can do better than this. Please see me at my next office hours.”

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