I’m being a little cagey at the moment, but I won’t have to be for much longer .
I’ve been talking to a number of people over this past weekend while I was in New Orleans, and some of the conversation turned to the show “Pawn Stars”. I am not at all surprised that “Pawn Stars” is a popular program among software testers. For those of us who do a regular amount of testing, Pawn Stars is a great metaphor for a lot of what we do.
For those not familiar with the show, there’s a pawnshop in Las Vegas called the “Gold & Silver Pawn Shop”. It’s a family owned business and three generations of the family work there. Richard Harrison (The Old Man) is the owner of the shop. Rick Harrison, who is the elder Richard’s son and runs the shop’s day to day operations, and Rick’s son Corey, who works there and has hopes of running the store one day. The premise of the show is that people bring items into the pawnshop, and the Harrison’s (and others in the store) try to determine what they are looking at and what the potential value of the item is. They then ask if the customer wants to pawn the item or wants to sell it. In the event of a pawn, then a loan is made based on the value of the item. If it’s a sale, then they negotiate for purchase. One thing is made abundantly clear by all of the Harrisons. Their goal is to make money on every transaction.
One of the things that makes the show interesting is the fact that you may not have any idea what you are looking at. IS the item legitimate? Maybe it’s a counterfeit. Or perhaps it’s a really valuable item in some areas, but you just don’t know anything about it. Since Rick is the one that does a lot of these interactions on the air, he admits when something is in his scope of expertise and when something isn’t. When Rick doesn’t know how to move on something, he almost always say “I’ve got a buddy that is an expert in …[fillInTheBlank]”. This is the indication that Rick is calling in an expert to check out the item, discuss what they see, what their understanding is, and what the value of the item based on their education, experience and past dealings with items like this informs.
We as testers go through this every day. Each of the Harrisons have different experience levels. None of them knows everything. Sometimes Richard (the Old Man) has gut level instincts based on years of experience, but having little to no knowledge of the current market. Sometimes he’s right, but sometimes he’s wrong. Often Corey sees opportunities that neither the Old Man or his dad understand, and he can make a great deal, even when the item they are looking at may be beat up or even missing pieces. In my world view, I know quite a bit about functional testing and doing negative tests, but performance isn’t quite my bag (or at least not to the level someone like Scott Barber would be). The point is, we all have our gut feelings, our skills and our learning, but we don’t all have the 100% complete package all the time. The good news is that I don’t have to if I have enough buddies I can call on to get some expert opinions from time to time.
Coming up soon, there will be something where I can guarantee I will need to call in on some of those “I’ve got a buddy who…” situations. I’m hoping y’all are receptive and willing to help “close some deals” :).