It was the best job opportunity Kirk had ever seen.

WANTED. Smart programmers who enjoy working on WELL-FUNDED projects 
using STATE-OF-THE-ART technology to fill a HIGH-GROWTH position at 
an INDUSTRY LEADING travel company. TOP-NOTCH PAY and comprehensive 
benefits including AIRLINE PERKS.

Sure, Kirk was skeptical. But it was 1994 and technology was booming. Personal Computers were becoming ubiquitous and the whole “World Wide Web” thing showed a lot of promise. Who knows, maybe one day consumers might book travel from their very own computer. He could help drive that! Kirk promptly sent in his résumé and eagerly awaited a reply.

A few weeks later, Kirk was sitting in front of Haylee’s desk, interviewing for the position. After running through all of the standard questions and formalities, Haylee described what their company was planning on doing.

“So have you heard of the ‘World Wide Web’?” she asked rhetorically, air-quoting that last phrase, “we’re planning on establishing a ‘presence’ there and have a lot of ideas on how to revolutionize the industry.”

Kirk quickly perked up. Nothing was more high-tech than the World Wide Web. “And not only that,” Haylee continued, “but we’ve got big budgets. Biiiig budgets. We’re talking ‘tens-of-millions of dollars’ big.”

In those pre-dot-com days, a multi-million dollar investment in such an infant technology was unheard of. Before Kirk could even respond, Haylee added “it may sound crazy, but we think the travel industry is about to be turned on its head, all thanks to technology. And we’ll be there when it happens.”

Kirk offered an approving nod and tried his best to stifle his growing excitement at the opportunity. “We’ve been around for years,” Haylee said, “and have real tight ties with the biggest industry players across the globe. Trust me, we’re going places!”

Kirk had heard enough. He was convinced that this was, without a doubt, the best job opportunity he had ever seen. And the fact that they offered stock options, an aggressive promotion track, and a progressive work environment with private offices for programmers made it seem almost too good to be true.

A couple months later, after accepting the job offer and getting his feet wet, Kirk realized that it was all true. Well, sort of. It wasn’t quite what he had pictured.

The company did have large, international projects. They did use cutting-edge technologies. There was top-notch pay and they did even offer airline perks. However, no one in Kirk’s division had any of that.

Kirk did, however, work in a private, 10x10’ office; he just had to share it with three other programmers. As for a workstation, Kirk was given a 1970’s-era IBM-3270 terminal; it had a few fun quirks, namely that the keyboard would lock up solid whenever the terminal was waiting for a reply. The day-to-day work primarily involved fixing bugs in their assembly-based mainframe programs; but to be fair, they did do some pretty “innovative” things in assembly language.

Although Kirk was a bit disappointed, he realized that his expectations were simply too high. Certainly they wouldn’t put the new guy in an important role in their large, international project. He knew he’d have to do a little grunt work first before he could play on the dream team. At six months in, Kirk was content.

And then management made an important announcement. Because of certain troubles with the “biggest industry players” that they had “real tight ties with,” management instituted a temporary Hiring Freeze. Of course, that didn’t affect Kirk or anyone else he knew, as everyone seemed to have a pretty balanced workload. He mostly ignored the announcement and got back to his grunt work.

A few months later, management made another important announcement. Because of continuing troubles with the “biggest industry players,” management extended the temporary Hiring Freeze. They also instituted a temporary Wage Freeze. Of course, that did affect Kirk, as his one-year anniversary was right around the corner. But since it was only temporary, he mostly ignored it and got back to his grunt work.

Several more months passed. Management announced that, due to continuing troubles, they’d need to extend the temporary freezes. As more months passed, more temporary freeze extensions were needed. And each time, it was the “last extension.”

Before Kirk even realized it, four long years had passed. The travel industry did change and websites like Travelocity and Expedia were blossoming. His company, not so much. In fact, his position on the ladder had remained the same. The next-most junior programmer had twelve years with the company and, after that, over twenty years. Some still referred to him as “the new guy.” He finally decided to look for another job.

Out went the résumé and in came the job offers. It was the middle of the dot-com boom, and Kirk had no trouble finding jobs paying more than double what he’d been making.

However, when he put in his two-weeks notice with his boss and then Haylee in HR, they were livid. How could anyone desert the company at such a time? They were in dire straits and needed him! They were in a Hiring Freeze, for crying out loud!

Despite their incessant pleading and their generous counter-offer of a 2% raise, Kirk left for greener pastures and vowed to never look back.

As Kirk moved from job to job, and contract to contract, he watched the dot-com bubble grow, and grow, and burst. He followed the blogging revolution, enjoyed the widespread adaptation of Wi-Fi, and witnessed the explosion of social networking. And he was always eager to find new opportunities to learn more.

This past year, while seeking out such opportunities, a certain job ad caught his eye.

WANTED. Smart programmers who enjoy working on WELL-FUNDED projects 
using STATE-OF-THE-ART technology to fill a HIGH-GROWTH position at 
an INDUSTRY LEADING travel company. TOP-NOTCH PAY and comprehensive 
benefits including AIRLINE PERKS.

No, it couldn’t be! Could it? Kirk reluctantly sent in his résumé and wondered if he’d ever get a reply.

A few weeks later, Kirk found himself sitting in front of the very same desk, interviewing with Haylee, the very same human resources person. After skipping most of the standard questions and formalities, Haylee described what their company was now doing.

“So have you heard of ‘Web 2.0’?” she asked rhetorically, air-quoting that the last phrase, “we’re planning on establishing a ‘presence’ there and have a lot of ideas on how to revolutionize the industry.”

Kirk was intrigued. He did, after all, have some solid experience in AJAX and other web tech. “And not only that,” Haylee continued, “but we’ve got big budgets. Biiiig budgets. We’re talking ‘tens-of-millions of dollars’ big.”

A strange sense of déjà vu engulfed Kirk. Before he could even respond, Haylee added “it may sound crazy, but we think the travel industry is about to be turned on its head, all thanks to Web 2.0. And we’ll be there when it happens.”

Kirk glanced down at his watch to make sure it wasn’t 1994 again. “We’ve been around for years,” Haylee said, “and have real tight ties with the biggest industry players across the globe. Trust me, we’re going places!”

Kirk had heard enough. A few minutes later, he stumbled out of the interview in a state of shock. He half-expected some on to jump out and yell, “you’re on candid camera!”

On his way out, he ran in to a former coworker. “I hear you’re thinking of coming back,” the programmer with now twenty-years at the company said, “you really should! They lifted the Wage and Hiring Freeze, and we’re all on PCs now! Oh, and I heard that we might be using this ‘Java’ and ‘SQL’ stuff soon. It’s pretty cool!”

Kirk was now certain that, any second now, someone would jump out and yell “surprise, we got ya!” It never happened. He told his former coworker that he’d think about it and swore to himself that he’d never, ever look back again.