July 2, 2006

[Personal] My Left Toe, or Why I Ended Up In QA

(Note: There is a very disturbing picture linked in this post. Rather than include it in the body, it's included as a hyperlink. There will be another warning by the link. You have been warned.)

I believe that every person has two or three defining events in their life that guide them towards a career or a set of careers.

I know the event that got me focused on moving into gaming. Back in 1980, my parents took me to a Godfather's Pizza in Ogden, Utah. There was a Super Breakout machine there, and I was fascinated by it. I asked my parents for a quarter, went over to the machine, dropped the quarter in, and got ripped off because the trigger inside didn't flip. I stepped back, looked at the machine, said, "I could do better," and that was it. But what moved me into QA was a more recent development.

First, some background. I've got a slight genetic abnormality that I've inherited from some family members which causes my toenails to curve significantly more than the normal toenail does. As a result, the sides dig into my toes, and lead to an unfortunate amount of doctor's visits.

Most of my toes were able to be taken care of on the first visit by the doctor removing the affected portion of the nail, then destroying the nail matrix inside the toe. I've had doctor's visits associated with all of my toes, but the second-to-last one was the driving force.

It was ten years ago, and my left big toe was starting to swell like all of my other toes had. So, I scheduled a doctor's appointment, got the time off from work, got a place ready at home to elevate my foot, the usual routine.

Unfortunately for me, my regular physician was out on the day of my appointment, so I got an intern. I warned the intern that he had to make sure that he got all of the nail matrix, or it was going to cause problems, and I also warned him that the nail matrix on my toes was larger than what was on a standard toe because of this issue. He didn't listen.

(This is the warning link.) Because he didn't pay attention to what I said, I now have three toenails growing on my left big toe.

Yes, that's right, three toenails. I have to be very careful about the length I allow each toenail to grow to. If any of them get too short, they become ingrown and get extremely painful. If any of them get too long, they snag on my socks and get irritated or cause bleeding and extremely painful.

Every doctor I've had since then has taken one look at that toe and said they wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole. Had it been handled correctly the first time, it wouldn't be an issue, but since it wasn't handled correctly at first, the nail matrix has shifted and changed into a form that these physicians don't expect.

It's similar to how software develops. If an issue is found and corrected early, it makes the rest of the process go smoothly. If an issue isn't found early, or is found and not corrected, it can quickly grow to a problem that cannot be corrected as part of regular maintenance.

So because this guy couldn't effectively double-check his own work, I have to suffer for it. After the aftermath from this procedure, I found myself trying to pay more attention to the work that I had done, as well as the work others had done. It eventually led to me getting hired by Access Software back in 1998, and the rest is history.


Seawolf said...

And the Seawolf said 'What the heck are you doing at work at 10:30pm'...


Awesome. I held myself back from the toe puns, fortunately.

(Yes, I read this earlier, but didn't have much to say at the time. Yarr.)

BWJones said...

Utah???? What is it about Utah and the gaming community? You would not believe how many folks in the gaming community have come from this place. Microsoft, Aspyr and others. It's weird man....

Seawolf said...

I blame midgets.

I can see it now....Rise of Midgets! The new strategy game from Tiny Little Games!

(And no, you don't get any points for guessing what I finally got.)