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I spent 4 years with an electronic refurbishing company with the majority of that time spent on video game consoles. A number of you reading this may actually own a console that we repaired, because over those four years we were able to sell hundreds of thousands of units.
But here’s the thing. The company was profitable because of people like me. Guys who were willing to pull over time off the clock to make shipping deadlines. Guys who kept silent when they were promised a raise every few months, but never saw a penny. We may have made more than minimum wage, but not by much. We had student loans to pay, families to provide for and kids on the way. Many employees moved in together because they couldn’t make rent or house payments on their own.
Management didn’t understand the gaming industry. They came from manufacturing backgrounds and saw dollar signs, but they didn’t know the ebb and flow like the employees did. Instead of listening to feedback, they ran the company into the ground and laid everyone off twice a year. Each time, less and less people came back.
I got lucky. I was a department head and almost untouchable. As was my wife. They needed both of us to keep our departments running, but this last lay off, we went with everyone else.
The company was full of OSHA violations and was miserable to work in. The air conditioning frequently failed because it’s old and can’t handle the space, so we frequently worked in a warehouse that was simply dangerous to our health. During the winter, the heat couldn’t keep the place warm enough so we’d end up wearing several pairs of jeans, two hoodies, and jackets while struggling to fix handheld devices in winter gloves.
But we kept coming in because they promised “it’ll get better.” We laughed and joked about it, but it didn’t matter because we loved what we did. We loved the products. We were taken for granted, and treated as less then human.
I’m not from China, or Taiwan, or another country you would expect these conditions in. I’m from the Midwest. The United States of America. If you bought a refurbished product at any major U.S. retailers, that’s a console I bled for. Check for that warranty sticker on the back. It’s one of ours. It’s a console that one of my friends, covered in sweat, worked on in 110 degree temperatures in the middle of July just before being laid off.
Respect that console. We gave everything we had every day to bring that to you.
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XBox LIVE: Bogestrom | Destiny