The bug that changed my life

The bug that changed my life

On my way back home from ATD2022 I was doing speeds that would get me arrested in most countries, but not on specific sections of the Autobahn in Germany.

As my thoughts reflected on the past few days at ATD in terms of, was it worth it, did I earn something, would I attend next year’s event and then recalled the time I arrived in Potsdam at my B&B-loft. It's a lovely place, close to the event in an old industrial part of town. Das Ensemble: A military base dating back to 1880. The loft I stayed in was the place where Emperor Wilhelm had his cavalry horses. 

After dropping off my stuff at the loft I went to the event. The walk was crisp and I hoped to quickly meet my colleagues from work. As I entered the building the place was loaded, the people dressed for the fairytale theme and they were getting their dinner. 

By coincidence I immediately saw one of my colleagues and was directed to their table.

As the evening progressed it was clear something special was about to happen. In a lottery of all the speakers of the event my colleague Eric was chosen to give a bonus keynote on "The Bug That Changed My Life". Just a keynote out of the blue with no preparation.

Driving along the Autobahn and at that moment I realized how important that simple sentence had been to me.

So here is my story on how "The Bug That Changed My Life" 


Back in the early 2000s, I was one of 5 or 6 colleagues hired by the Ministry of Agriculture to do the QA testing on a new customer relationship application. As we were getting to know the application, we came across the functionality of the different possible addresses: a farmer had a living address, a postal address, business address, and so on. As farmers often worked with their (grand)fathers and brothers there were a lot of people with the same names and addresses. Back then, we already used personas to get to the correct user stories.

The engineers had built what was in the functional design, but somehow it didn't make sense when we ran the tests and checked the database. We couldn't figure out how it was supposed to work. So we asked the program manager if we could get some kind of a superuser from the production department. The superuser had to help us sort out the functionality and do acceptance testing of the new application to get it to production.

I don't remember the exact timeframe on  how long it took him to get us the help we needed, but at some day he entered our project room with the superuser, I had an "Oh my f****** god" moment.

A few weeks earlier.....

As I said before, we were with 5 of us, and back in those days we printed everything. As the printer wasn't in our room, but in the main lobby, it took some time to get your prints and get back to the room.

On a random day one of my colleagues told us to hurry up and get a print job at the printer. Not all together but one by one to stay discrete. So we went one at a time to get our printing jobs done.

When it was my turn, I walked into the main lobby and was struck by lightning at what I saw. She was just sitting there, waiting for her appointment to be perfect.

So when the project manager entered the room, I had the "I must be kidding me" feeling. The superuser he selected was the young woman we all admired when we got to get our print job a few weeks before. It was just too good to be true.

Stricken by her presence, I was speechless. After we all got introduced we had to start working on the problem and get her familiar with the new functions of the new program we were on.

So, after some days of analyses she told the team there were multiple issues/ bugs in our system regarding the address functionality.

As the days of working together turned into weeks, I noticed we worked together quite well. A glance was enough to know what the other meant, and being in each other's space was quite comfortable. And being in someone else's space on a working floor is kind of special.

The team did some rework on the address-software and as the acceptance tests were all green our superuser left our team to get promoted to the application management team.

So her not being around wasn't nice. At lunch breaks we said just casual 'hi’s and hey’s'. End of story.

Then at her birthday all colleagues were invited at her office for some cake and we ended up having chit chat together. After her birthday the time passed by, and I noticed at the end of each day she came to my office to say goodbye for the day.

One day I asked her where she had to go and offered her a lift to talk her to the train station where her bicycle was parked. Dropping her off at the station was just a normal goodbye.

As chat-apps didn't exist back then we mailed about small talk.

In one of the mails she mentioned she had a weekend trip planned with a friend, but the friend canceled it to spend time with her boyfriend. So she mentioned she was going by herself. 

At that moment, with my heart in my throat, I suggested I could maybe join her instead.

To make this already very long story a bit shorter and not going into juicy details: we went on a 2-day camping trip for the Easter holidays 2000 and in July she moved in with me.

And meanwhile, the rest is history: We've been together ever since, married in '03, got a boy in '04 and a girl in '05. 

So, there you have a true story on how a bug changed my life for real, not just a fairytale, just real life!

About Haiko Middeldorp


Senior Test Specialist bij RDW ICT Groningen