Story Time: Computer e-Recycling

an I.T. WTF Odyssey

I had the displeasure of working at an erecycler several years ago. Even watching stuff come off the trucks, it was very hard to get anything before it was utterly destroyed by the yard goons. Inserting a forklift blade into a 19" rack cabinet was common practice and I witnessed on numerous occasions the dropping of them in this fashion. Once, they even rolled a forklift off the ramp. These events were always followed by a flurry of Spanish profanity and I usually had to check my pants for continence afterward from laughing so hard. It is a miracle nobody has ever been seriously maimed there to the best of my knowledge.

The highlight of this job experience was when the greedy goons resold a defective Siemens blood handling instrument of some sort that was sent specifically to them to be destroyed (as was EVERYTHING, in theory). The serial number was traced back to them and there was an all out shitstorm. A team of inspectors was flown out from Germany. The goons put on a particularly hilarious show buying hardhats, safety vests, warning signs, identification badges, and more. Somehow, they kept the contract (it was probably just "check you ass" on Siemen's part -- dumping obsolete X-Ray, MRI machines, medical waste, etc for free must be hard to pass up) and all of this change disappeared within a couple days.

What is remarkable is that the above business got multi-millions of dollars of inventory for FREE every year. I really can't think of any other business model like it. The owner is completely incompetent and morally bankrupt. Very little was put back into the company's facilities, employees (except maybe a couple at the top), or development. None of the employees had an IQ above room temperature, and everybody seemed content to keep it that way.

There is a happy ending though. A skid of IBM RS/6000 7012 systems from Intel came in at one time. Among the 20-30 machines was a lone -397 that I snagged. This is my favorite collectors box to date (it is the same POWER2 CPU type used in the famous Deep Blue super computer).


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