Memoirs of an Action 52 Programmer

In which I chronicle my memories of working on Action 52.
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Office Life at Action 52

Albert Hernandez
United States
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Microbadge: May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun...Microbadge: Merry ChristmasMicrobadge: Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) series fanMicrobadge: Merry ChristmasMicrobadge: ...and find your shoulder to light on.
I started this blog with plans on making a post every week. Already last week I forgot to make one. It's not a big deal but that's not a good sign for a blog about memories, is it?

So I've wanted to describe life at the Action 52 world headquarters. Actually, world headquarters was a really small place. I no longer recall exactly were it was but it was somewhere on Bird Rd in Miami, west of I-85. Bird Rd is SW 40th Street. I used Google street view and drove down Bird Rd a bit looking for the place but I had no luck finding it. It was a small office building. The 1st floor was a parking garage and the 2nd and 3rd floors had offices. I think we were on the third floor.

Next door there was a Little Caesar's and, I think a Subway's. Across the street was a shopping center with an All-In-One. This was a Pizza Hut, Taco Bell & KFC combined so you could go and order food from either of the three menus. It was great!

From gallery of fractaloon
The office had two rooms. The outer room was small at maybe 12'x12' or smaller. It had a desk and shelves on the walls behind it with old computers. The inner office had been a recording studio when we started working there. It must have been 12'X15' so not very big either. Because it was a music studio, the walls have been covered with dark blue fabric and, I think, insulation behind that to make it sound proof. In one corner, there was an isolation room for a vocalist or someone to go into. Because of the padding on the walls, we had no windows. It all gave the space a very claustrophobic feel to it. Along the the two longer walls, Vince had two sets of desks made.. really, these were just 2'x4's with plywood on top as a work surface. It had the feel of a dot com years before dot-coms were a thing.

That picture on the left, I'm not sure about the scale but I think it's pretty close. It definitely wasn't a big environment. By far, we spent most of the time in that larger room. With 5 people in there, it would definitely start to feel cozy. Fortunately, it was usually just three developers in there at a time.

There was a bean bag in the room. I'm not really sure were it came from. I guess Mario brought it in or something. It's a good thing we had it though, because we often spent the night there working and that would be the bed we would crash on when someone needed to sleep. Very much it was a crazy environment. We would work there all day without site or sound of the outside world other than we we went out to get some food, often at the Little Caesar's.

For periods of time, especially Javi and I would be there for a few days. We'd go to my house to shower up and have some real food and relax a bit before returning back to work. I don't know just how many hours we put in, but it was a LOT.

Most of the time it was just the three main developers in there, until developer #4 joined us and then later on Joey, the artist, worked there too. Occasionally, we got visitors. Vince & Publio would come by every few days or so, usually in the evenings to check up and see how things were going. Vince smoked cigarettes. He would come in and light up a cigarette in the office. It's a small crowded room so we all got to enjoy 2nd hand smoke. Back then, that wasn't such a big deal at least not yet. But then, he would flick the ashes of his cigarette on the floor and rub then into the rug with his chanclets (that's Spanglish for chancletas, a.k.a. flip-flops. When he showed up in the evening he was usually wearing flip-flops, jeans and a t-shirt.
Anyway, he would flick the ashes onto the floor and rub them into the rug. That was our bed that rug! We slept on the floor with the bean bad as a pillow. I hated that.

Sometimes, other folks came by. Mario's cousin came by once or twice, my grandmother visited my work once when she was in the US from Cuba for a few months or someone's friend would pass by. I gotta say, I find that weird. I don't know why though. Most of the visitors felt random and out of place but it was nice to break things up.

I think the most common meal in those days was pizza from Little Caesar's or Taco Bell. Those were the cheapest options so it's what we went with. Keep in mind that I was the only one getting paid and it was a minimal salary, especially considering the hours I put in.

That isolation room ended up becoming a closet, or really, a junk room because we didn't have a use for it. I don't even remember what was in there but it got pretty full. One time, I recall we went in there for something and someone found a pizza in a box leaning against a wall with other boxes and stuff. No idea how long that had been in there but it was amazing how much better the place smelled once we found it and threw it out. This place very much had the vibes of a bad college dorm.

I don't recall how far into the project we were when developer #4 joined. He was going to college in the day and would come in during the evenings. He was a breathe of fresh air to the project. It was nice to have a new point of view and an new voice. One of the changes he did though was HUGE. One day he was in the office working and said something along the lines of "I can't take it any more" and proceeded to rip down the blue padding covering the windows. I was mortified.. we'd get in trouble for doing this! He didn't care though. It was dark and dingy in there and he was tired of that. Once he did that, we now had this big window that spanned the length of the wall and let all sorts of light into the room. It really made a big impact to the environment. I was also surprised that Vince was okay with it all. His comment was simply that it looked good. I have to admit, that was a relief.
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