John T. worked in the AI lab at Marconi. Or at least he used to. After a “frank exchange of views” with the divisional manager he’d been moved into another sector of the organisation. You wouldn’t think so though, as he seemed to spend most of his time mooching around the labs drinking coffee, cadging smokes, and telling anyone who’d listen (and anyone who wouldn’t) how shit his life was. Bearded, and reputed warlock, he was the original time burglar. According to John, his new manager was making repeated efforts to get rid of him, and would make him appointments to ‘meet’ with HR. Because John knew what these meetings would end up being about (primarily his sacking) he would out-flank his manager by simply not attending, and the status quo would be maintained, for a few weeks at least. After a few months of this his manager, who appeared to be too afraid of him to confront John directly, tried another tack. He shifted strategy to trying to make John’s work life as miserable as possible in the hope he’d leave of his own accord. He did this by assigning John the task of translating blocks of Fortran code into assembler – effectively turning him into a human compiler [ref 1]. His manager justified this activity by claiming that the division didn’t have budget left to invest in the licence to buy a compiler. An obviously spurious argument on many levels. John didn’t care though – he quite enjoyed mindless tasks, and so hung around for several months more until, in a stroke of irony, his manager was himself sacked and replaced by someone with the cajones to finally fire him. John was last seen one Walpurgis night frollicking nude amongst the salt marshes out Benfleet way.
[ref1] A compiler is computer software that transforms computer code written in one programming language into another programming language, typically a low level one such as assembler.