All posts tagged the tester’s dilemma

Mera pehla pehla kaam

Today I completed a year at work. *raucous applause*

*applause fades*

One year at a real job. Phew.

I don’t need to use the words ‘Social Media Evango-anthropo-enthuso-logist’ on my resume anymore. Neither do I need to mention that I am the ‘Chief Something’ of Something on my Linkedin profile. Or use the word Entrepreneur in every mail that I send to reinforce the illusion of doing something.

Fake pride aside, I am really happy that I have a job and that I haven’t been kicked out of it with-in an year. I love my company and I am proud of it’s rich and varied heritage. I shall always strive to be worthy of it. I shall give respect to my parents.. Oh wait.

Where were we?

Oh yeah. I love my company. Yes, I do. Though my bosses don’t subscribe to this blog, I still love my company, my team and my job. Well, most of the time. And now that I have completed a year in my company, I think I am ready to take this relationship to the next level. I am ready to make the transition from ‘In a service-agreement’ to ‘It’s complicated’.

In this one year at work, I’ve learned a lot of useful things. I now know that OOO doesn’t refer to Tarzan’s mating cry. I can spew abbreviations faster than Nana Patekar can curse our collective conscience. TBD, ETA, FYI, ABC, OOO, PFA, EOD, COB, LOL, TGIF, ODIM – You’ve been warned. My respect for weekends has also increased manifold. I wait for a weekend with the same anticipation with which a newly wedded husband waits for that filmy glass of milk. I have also learned important life lessons like ‘Kamaan se nikla teer, Zubaan se nikla shabd aur Lotus notes se nikla mail kabhi wapas nahi aate’ or that ‘All is fair in Love, War and Appraisals’.

For a better part of this year, I’ve worked as a software tester. Frankly, I never saw this coming. When I was trying to make fraandship with Java and SQL, I had no idea that I’ll end up fiddling with Quality Center instead. But to quote @maxdavinci, ‘When when what what happen, then then that that happen’.

One of them works.

Being a software tester is peculiarly difficult. You may not agree with me(more so if you are a developer or are married to one). Developers around the world have this ingrained dislike for Testers. It is like India-Pakistan, Karina-Priyanka or atleast like Ireland-England.

A developer checking in code to a tester is like a parent preparing his daughter for an arranged marriage interview. No parents in the world would like to be told that their daughter is not perfect, to have her imperfections rudely pointed out to them. Imagine if the imperfections are documented in a Bride Defect Report. You can imagine the agony.

To quote Anton Ego:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read.

Well, that’s not entirely true in our case. We do risk a lot and a defect report is anything but fun to write. So. Hmm. Ignore the quote.

To be honest, Testing is a pretty dangerous profession. We are like the pathologists or radiologists of the Software world. There is no scope for public display of affection for our work. Like a radiologist who discovers a cancerous growth in his patient but cannot express his joy at making the discovery, a tester cannot rejoice in his achievement. Like a pathologist who cannot run naked screaming EUREKA in the street after discovering that his patient has syphilis, we cannot express any joy at finding a bug in a piece of code. Disappointment is integrated into our profession by design. A tester’s delight is a developer’s disappointment.

Not only that, we are forever haunted by the ‘How much testing is too much testing?’ dilemma. It is like the ‘Sadak kya peter ke baap ki hai?’ question. Nobody knows the answer.

The side-effect of being a Software tester, is that it slowly enters your skin and you don’t even know it. You start finding flaws in everything. Your tolerance for typos decreases. Every time you detect something wrong on some random website, your first instinct is to raise a defect for it somewhere. Anywhere. You feel helpless when the same error happens again and again and you can do nothing about it. You become a part of the Value-Addition-Police, the moral police of the software world. From movies to your girlfriend’s makeup, nothing is beyond your criticism. – finding bugs becomes your dharma and your karma.

I am still learning the tricks of the trade. I am learning to think like a developer, to accept rejected defects with grace and to keep a bold face in appraisal interviews. I now know the fine line of distinction between a CC and a BCC. I know that you cannot leave an Action Figure in your cubicle and expect it to be there the next morning. That there is nothing you can do about a ‘Dhoom Macha Le’ ringtone at work. Absolutely nothing.

There are days when I curse my work(you know, in general, ‘saala system hi galat hai’) and there are days when I have to drag myself out of bed, fake a shower and rush to office just to save that one casual/sick leave. But the joy that I experience on every 31st night when that payroll email arrives more than makes up for it.

Is this the best job in the world? I don’t know. Is my job my hobby, my passion? I think not. But do I enjoy it? Yes, very much.(and I say that with 95% confidence estimate)

Here’s wishing myself many many happy returns of this day. *kisses payslip*

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