My frustration level must be going up, because it’s usually frustration that inspires me to write. Here I am again.
Last weekend I stayed over with a friend of mine in his newly rented house. As he welcomed me home I noticed he was wearing a white t-shirt with a blue IBM logo on it, and an IBM cap. I’ve seen him in IBM gear before. IBM hands out a lot of freebies to its interns these days.
In the kitchen I found an IBM coffee maker and an IBM coffee mug, along with a pack of ground coffee with the legend “Starbucks breakfast blend, packed for IBM”. Mmm, coffee, powered by IBM. In the bathroom there was an IBM towel, and the toilet seat cover had a big blue IBM logo on it. Hmm, toilet, covered by IBM.
Next to his sink was a blue sponge scouring pad with an IBM logo. Behold, the IBM sinkpad.
No prizes for guessing his favorite music genre: blues.
Needless to say, his long internship has afforded him a lot of IBM clothing. Shirts, track pants, socks, you name it. The last time he visited his family in India, his mother gave him a new shirt on the first day. He spent quite a while looking for the IBM logo on it. It must have faded or something, he guessed. He says new interns at IBM are given a gender-specific form to specify their clothing preferences. Boxers or briefs?
In a past life he was an intern at IBM India Labs in Delhi. It is to IBM’s credit that their freebies are not only gender-specific but also culture-specific. As fond mementoes of his IBM Delhi days, he still has his IBM spittoon and his IBM lungi. Close your eyes for a moment and picture yourself using those.
The potted plant in the corner of his living room, thankfully, didn’t have a logo. Only the pot did. IBM pot: the favorite pot of all intern smokers worldwide! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Instead of growing towards the sunlight, this plant was growing towards the kitchen. What gives? “This plant grows in the direction of the nearest IBM site,” he explained. “It has been genetically modified to droop and shed leaves when IBM’s share price drops.” Would that be the blue gene?
He even had two IBM footstools. Do you even *have* a footstool? I don’t. I never interned at IBM.
Sadly his internship at IBM is coming to an end. The days of free IBM kitchen wipes and free IBM knee-pads will soon be over. He is joining the deprived ranks of the full-time employees who do not get freebies. Alas. Of what use is a 401(k) retirement savings plan and dental benefits if you cannot surprise your significant other on her birthday with a free IBM pink slip or free IBM black thong?
His internship has certainly served him well. IBM merchandise is generally well designed. It can certainly create a good first impression. It has class, you know what I mean?
Imagine this situation: you, a male IBM engineer, are on a first date. It’s dinner in a fancy restaurant. The conversation is going well because you have kept yourself from talking about the benefits of high-K dielectrics in IBM’s 65-nanometer SOI technology or the problems of substrate noise in CMOS designs of radio frequency PLLs. As the waiter brings you the check, the restaurant is getting rather warm, and your date is quite hot too. You take off your sweater to reveal an IBM t-shirt.
Her: You work at IBM?
You: Yeah, in the circuits research lab.
Her: Cool. Hey, you wanna come over to my place for some coffee?
On the other hand, imagine this situation: you, a male AMD engineer, are on a first date. Dinner in a fancy restaurant. The conversation is going well. As the waiter brings you the check, the restaurant is getting rather warm, not to mention your that your date is quite hot too. You take off your sweater to reveal an AMD t-shirt. Uh oh, not this one. This t-shirt is a particularly nerdy production.
Her: Hey, that’s weird. What’s your t-shirt say?
You: Oh, it’s a… um, it’s a t-shirt celebrating the Hammer tapeout. You see, (pointing to a picture of a hammer on the t-shirt) Hammer is the code name for AMD’s next generation processor. And this (pointing to a penguin on the t-shirt) is linux, and this (pointing) is windows. We’re going to rule both linux and windows with Hammer. Well, the picture actually shows only one window, but you get the idea… and this (pointing again) is the sinking Itanic. That’s the competition, you see. And this here is the tapeout date…
Her: *Yawn*. Nice. Hey, can you call me a cab? I’m headed home.
You head home too, and burn the offending t-shirt.
See what I mean?
The Hammer tapeout t-shirt described above really exists. Some of us (those who have realized that we didn’t stand a chance anyway, also called realists) haven’t bothered to burn it. I still wonder who designed it. There must be an especially fiery place somewhere in hell reserved for such people…