Escape rooms seem to have soared in popularity in recent years. On paper, they are a great activity for team-building and a lot of fun for families and groups of friends. However, most of the time they turn into absolute chaos with everyone involved frantically running around the room looking for clues.
"Martin" had just moved to a big city and started going to college. He was looking for a part-time job and went to an escape room for one of his friend's birthdays. He was fascinated by the technology that went into escape rooms and decided that was what he wanted to do for his part-time job. Martin had a lot of experience with programming, so he was accepted after the first interview. Martin knew he could make more money doing another job; however, he was really passionate about escape rooms so he was content with earning less money.
The first few months were awesome and Martin got along really well with the owner, "Tony."
All was going well aside from Martin's relationship with his manager, "Brad." It didn't take long for Brad to realize that Martin was more technically skilled than him and it really messed with his ego. Brad eventually stopped sharing resources with Martin that were required to complete tasks that Tony wanted to be completed. To combat that, Martin went behind Brad's back and created software that was significantly better and more original than Brad's. Tony eventually realized that Brad was intentionally doing his best to stifle the work of a talented young employee and fired him. Brad was replaced by "Ben," one of Martin's co-workers with who he got along well.
After that, things were going smoothly until Tony decided that it was time to start expanding his business.
The usual timeline to create a new escape room from scratch was typically ten weeks. The actual process took about eight weeks but the tech employees preferred to have a two-week cushion in case they encountered issues. This was especially important whenever booking private parties for corporate events.
One thing that differentiated Martin's company from others was that private parties had the option to select a custom theme for their escape room. That meant that a portion of escape rooms remained the same for public clients and the other portion was constantly being developed for private parties. The most important rule when booking a private party was that they had to be scheduled at least ten weeks in advance to give the tech employees the proper amount of time to create the escape room. That was standard practice; however, one day Tony got greedy.
Out of the blue, Tony made the executive decision that private parties could start being booked five weeks in advance. He figured that meant twice the amount of private parties and twice the profit. What he didn't account for was how that would affect his tech employees.
Martin, Ben, and the other tech employees had to work twice as hard. On most weeks, Martin would work twelve-hour days preparing escape rooms, barely had time for class or schoolwork, and would only go home to sleep before returning to work. The most frustrating part of developing the new escape rooms at a rapid pace was that they also had to maintain the public escape rooms.
Unfortunately, the software for the public escape rooms was very buggy and caused many issues that took away from the tech employees working towards their absurd new deadlines. It took weeks but Martin finally convinced Tony to let him write new software that would function significantly better than it was currently.
It took months but Martin was finally able to write software that turned the previous disaster into a well-oiled machine. The only issue was that the company's current equipment wasn't strong enough to handle the new software. Thankfully, Martin had received a ton of equipment for free from one of his friend's companies that no longer had use for it. Martin brought the equipment in and Tony agreed that they would settle on reimbursing Martin for the equipment down the road. Martin sent Tony an email with every piece of equipment he had loaned as well as its serial number.
Despite everything running smoothly, Martin was fed up with the deadlines. Tony had used the new software as an excuse to book even more private parties and allocate more escape rooms to constantly being customized. It didn't take long for Tony to realize that his skills would be appreciated somewhere else.
A few weeks later, Martin had secured a job offer from a big company that would pay him significantly more. However, Martin had a tough time calling it quits because he truly loved designing escape rooms and didn't want to leave Ben and the other tech employees hanging out to dry. He decided to schedule a meeting with Tony to air out his grievances and attempt to rectify the situation before he finally decided to move on to the big company.
On the day of the meeting, Martin was in a great mood. He knew that he was on his way to improving his situation one way or the other. Unfortunately, that good mood was short-lived.
As soon as Martin arrived at work, there was a nasty accident in the warehouse. Despite it not being his job, the warehouse manager demanded that Martin be the one to clean it up purely because he was the first employee to arrive. Martin argued that he was a programmer, not a warehouse worker, but that didn't dissuade the warehouse manager. Martin finally broke and started cleaning up the waste.
Halfway through cleaning up the waste and holding in his vomit, Martin snapped.
None of this would ever happen at a halfway decent company, Martin realized.
He stopped cleaning up the waste, walked to his office, and packed up his stuff. Then Martin went and waited outside of Tony's office for him to arrive.
When Tony arrived, Martin went through his entire list of grievances before he could even open his office door. Tony tried to argue with some of his grievances, but Martin was done being stepped on.
Martin told Tony that today was the last straw and that he was done.
Tony tried to argue that Martin couldn't just walk out, but Martin told him he was an independent contractor and that he was allowed to quit at any time he wanted. Tony begged him to stay for another month because they were behind on a lot of deadlines, which was completely Tony's fault.
Martin told Tony he would send him a file of the software and left. Martin knew that the software technically belonged to the company and wanted to get out with as little resistance as possible. Martin called the recruiter in the car to accept the position with the big company and told them he could start in a month. Martin drove home and spent the next two weeks decompressing and ignoring phone calls from Tony.
On the last week of his "one more month," Martin went into the business to finalize everything with the software, ensure that Ben knew how to handle everything, and ask what they planned to do with the equipment he had lent them.
Tony said they would send Martin money for it in his final paycheck.
Satisfied with that, Martin left.
Martin never received payment for his equipment; however, that wasn't the final straw.
A couple of weeks later, Martin saw that Ben was looking for a new job on LinkedIn. Martin decided to message Ben to see what had happened.
Ben told Martin the business had survived by only hosting private events for companies. Ben also said Tony had furloughed every other tech employee as a result of him being too greedy to sacrifice his own massive income. Ben had been able to manage the workload pretty well until Tony made yet another outlandish request Ben had no chance of fulfilling for the price and within the timeframe Tony wanted. When Ben tried to suggest an alternative that would be more cost and time-efficient, Tony snapped and fired him on the spot. Ben tried to reason with Tony to at least let him stick around long enough to train the new tech manager, but Tony wasn't having it. That made Ben realize doing the right thing was not worth it. He decided just looking for a new job would be way better than sticking around to handle more of Tony's abuse while trying to train his replacement.
Hearing that made Martin furious. To make matters worse, he got a call from Tony a week later.
Tony informed Martin he had re-hired all of the tech employees that he had been "forced to let go of." Tony asked if Martin would be willing to come to the business for the day and handle questions from the new tech employees about the program he had created.
Martin reluctantly agreed. However, as they were planning the meeting, he grew suspicious Tony expected him to do it for free.
Martin asked, "What do you think is a fair hourly rate for me to do this?"
Tony responded, "We'll solve that later," and hung up without finishing the plans for the meeting.
Martin never got another call from Tony before the day he was supposed to come in.
On the day of the meeting, Martin intentionally showed up late and remained parked outside the business. He waited, but Tony never even bothered to call to ask where he was. He really thinks he can continue getting away with treating people like this, Martin thought. Furious, Martin drove home.
A few days later, Martin drove back up to the business but opted to park next to the warehouse where all of the escape rooms were located. Martin pulled out his laptop and unsurprisingly, his WiFi routers were still being used in the escape rooms.
Tony hadn't even bothered to change the password.
Martin connected to the WiFi and poked around on the network. Of course, all of Martin's computers were still being used to run the software for the escape rooms he had created. Martin decided it was time to get back at Tony.
Martin wrote a script, ran it, and crashed all of the software that was being run in the escape rooms.
I did nothing wrong. I was just messing around on my laptop connected to my WiFi router, making changes to my computers, on my software, Martin thought.
All Martin had to do was just drive home and wait.
To Martin's surprise, it took Tony almost two full days to contact him. Martin agreed to help, but said he didn't have much time since he was working for a big company. He told Tony he could come set everything up but it would cost him his usual rate of one hundred and fifty dollars per hour.
Tony managed to talk Martin down to a hundred dollars per hour, which he thought was a great deal. What he didn't know was that was actually double the hourly rate that Martin received from his current company.
When Martin arrived, he double-checked the computers to confirm their serial numbers. He referenced the email he had sent Tony the previous year and confirmed they were the equipment he had lent the company.
Martin walked into Tony's office and said, "Thank goodness, I was able to find my lost stuff," and proceeded to walk out the door with his first computer monitor.
Tony shouted, "You can't take that! We don't have the equipment to stay up and running!"
Martin responded, "Not my problem. I'm either taking my equipment back or you're going to pay me the twenty-four hundred dollars this stuff is worth."
Tony retorted, "I'm calling the police if you walk out of here with that."
Martin said, "Call them. I have proof that all of this equipment belongs to me."
Deflated, Tony said, "Fine, I'll pay you for the equipment on top of your rate for today."
Satisfied, Martin got to work. Thankfully, the majority of Martin's software was still saved in the system. All he had to do was correct the errors some other tech employees had made when they were trying to get his software back up and running. Overall, it took Martin about two hours to correct all of the errors with the software and get the system up and running again. Martin decided to stay a few more hours to ensure everything ran smoothly and caught up with the other tech employees. All of those hours were billable, of course. After ensuring that everything was properly functioning, Martin printed the invoice for the day and headed home.
The next day, Martin was relieved when he got the notification that thirty-six hundred dollars were transferred to his bank account.
Tony finally paid up, Martin thought.
From what he had been told by the other tech employees, all eight of the escape rooms had gone down as a result of his plan. It had taken Tony until Tuesday night to swallow his pride and contact Martin to come to solve the issue. Martin estimated that Tony had lost about twenty-seven thousand dollars in revenue over the previous three days. All of which, could have been avoided if Tony hadn't been too shady to pay him for his equipment and hadn't tried to overwork his employees in the name of profit.
Martin was so relieved that he could finally move on from the debacle with Tony and his escape rooms.
I'm not sure about the legality of it, but Martin's revenge was absolutely genius. Mostly because he found a way to use the skills that made him a valuable employee to cost Tony a lot of money. Unfortunately, a lot of business owners overwork their employees in the same way as Tony without a Martin to dish them sweet revenge. I'm genuinely surprised Martin stuck around as long as he did when his part-time job magically transformed into twelve-hour workdays. I can't comprehend how Tony thought he was going to get away with tripling the workload of a part-time employee.
Why did Tony think he could get away with not reimbursing Martin for a valuable amount of equipment? Also, if you're going to attempt to steal equipment from someone, maybe change the passwords? I know for a fact that Tony knew Martin was good with technology, but it must have not clicked for him to change the passwords. Maybe he just thought Martin was going to accept not getting compensated for over two thousand dollars worth of technology. What an idiot.
Also, I understand it's his business, but Tony can't be crushing the spirits of his employees over escape rooms. That's a fun activity for friends and families, not a cause to ruin the lives of your employees. How did he expect his tech employees to be cool with him cutting their timeline for creating escape rooms in half? Either Tony didn't think through a single decision he made throughout this story or his sense of entitlement was through the roof.