Issue 5 Contents


Suffering for Software

It was a cold winter morning. The snow that fell throughout the night had finally been shoveled away everywhere, except of course the parking lot at work. The arrangement of snow piles left no visible places to park my vehicle, so I was forced to make my own. The door of the car swung open and my boot plunged into the cold depths. Great, my socks are now wet for the remainder of the day.

At 8:30, my PC barely booted, he arrived my cubicle. The one person in the company who knows the least about what I’m doing -- and he’s in charge.
He immediately bellowed, "I need you to work on this priority 0! It needs to be done by close of business today!

My day was forever changed. Ever the good employee, I graciously accepted my new adventure, reminding myself that the customer is always right.

An hour and a half passed, -- that’s right, it’s 10:00 -- when in comes would would become a gruelingly familiar sight.

"How’s that problem going?" he asked.

"I should be finished before lunch," I responded, emphasizing that my assignment would be finished hours before the deadline.

"That’s good, but," and then he said the words, "priorities have changed once again. We received a call from a bigger company and I need you to fix this problem, ASAP. You mean you couldn’t convince those people to wait until tomorrow, now could you!

After hearing what the problem was I said, "I should be able to knock this off in no time. I’ll get back to you after lunch."

"Great," was all he could say, before he disappeared out of thin air.

The testing and debugging phase of the assignment went so fluidly, I actually took lunch. Not only would I finish off my new task, but if things went well and I fixed both things before 5:00 I would be showered with praise. My name would be mentioned at the board meetings, 'He saved us you know,' they would say.

Then, the bubble burst.

"You’re not going to believe who we just got a call from."

I had by back to him when he spoke. I could imagine the foolish grin now. I really need you to fix this first, before the other two, I bet he would say.

"I really need you to fix this first, before the other two," he said on cue. I swiveled my chair and saw the grin.

"This one’s going to cost you," I said in jest, trying to make light of the situation. Will this be remembered at review time? Don’t count on it!

"It should be a quick fix. I told them you could do it by 5:00." The silly grin appears again, like when a child has done something he knows is wrong but still tries to get away with it.

"It’s 1:00," I started, "if all goes well, I might be able to get it done by then. No more interruptions?"

"I promise!" He turned and left. Idiot.

By 3:30 I had determined the source of the problem for task number three when again in came that rudely grinning man. Promise broken. "You’re not going to believe this."

"What has changed now?" I interrupted.

"We need a new distribution for Australia. They are fourteen hours ahead. You now that is tomorrow at 5:30 in the morning for them. Already."

No shit. "I bet they need something for 8:00, now don’t they?"

"You got it!" he actually laughed. "Let me know when it’s done."

Spineless jellyfish. Where is your sense of management? Where are the other engineers? Am I the only one who works here? "No problem. I’ll let you know when the build is ready."

Poof, he’s gone. I wish I had a camera in his office to see what really goes on in his world. Is he always getting beat up by the VPs, or is he just a shmuck? Both.

At 4:15 the build was done. The files had been placed where they could be accessed by the Aussies. Australia is saved. Time to tell the boss.

"Great, how’s the other problem going?" he asks, oblivious to the fact I'd been yanked around throughout the course of the day.

"Which one?" I answered sarcastically. I’m allowed one snide remark.

"The one I gave you before this last crisis."

"Oh, that one. With a little luck, I might be able to get it done within the hour.

"Great, how about the other two?"

Are you serious? "Are you serious?"

"Well, you were close to finishing them, weren’t you?"

There goes the raise. I can hear the change in the attitude in the board room. He didn’t finish all four of those changed priority zeros? What’s wrong with him?

"I was close to finishing them, but I won’t be able to get them done by today. I need at least four more hours. I can get them done by noon tomorrow."

"Tomorrow? I told them by close of business today!"

Idiot. You change priorities four times, but don’t move the schedule. Idiot. "If I had the time to concentrate on one task, then I might have been able to finish, but it’s too late now.

"Well, OK. I’ll tell them you can’t finish them."

Oh no you don’t!!! "Tell them I fixed the last task you gave me, and that Australia will be up and running tomorrow. That should make them happy."

"I guess you’re right. Let me know when the other fixes are done tomorrow."

By noon the next day the original tasks were debugged, tested, and packaged to the customers. All parties involved for all four priorities were thoroughly happy.

A week and a half later, the same task-changing madman called me into his office and laid me off.

The moral of the story is, be an idiot. You get to get to fart around all day making stupid decisions and blame them on other people.

Be the idiot, be the idiot.