Friday, June 15, 2007

A Short Post in Which I Bitch About Work and Use Too Many Sentence Fragments and LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS

By about 2:30pm this afternoon I had reached a point where if one more person called me and made me take off my headphones or walked into my office and made me take off my headphones or stopped me in the hallway while I was on my way to the bathroom to pee or interrupted what I was trying to accomplish in any other way, I was going to freaking lose it. LOSE. IT.

See, there is this project that we’re all working on. It’s one of those software death marches that all of us who work in software development have experienced. It usually starts when people with business degrees refuse to believe the engineers when said engineers opine that it is not physically possible to create the desired product in the amount of time between now and the magical marketing release date, whenever that should be. No, the management types clearly believe that the engineers are secretly spending their days eating Cheetos™ and playing video games and if said engineers would just TRY A LITTLE HARDER, they could do it.

I’ve been through this about a thousand times over the years, and nowadays it’s really hard to get me all worked up into a frenzy because of some ludicrous release date pulled out of the air by someone who wouldn’t know an internet if it bit him on the butt. Oh, I admit, in my youth, I was just as enthusiastic as the next person. I attended those pep-rally-ish all-hands meetings designed to motivate the “troops.” I joined hands in the huddle and vowed to work 80 hour weeks until the project was done.


I really was convinced that if we all killed ourselves, neglected our families and sacrificed our physical and mental health, we could get that product released on time. In short, I was an idiot.

Now I am just cynical. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do my part. I’ll work late or on a Saturday every now and then to get something out the door if it has a snowball’s chance. But don’t bug me with the pipe dreams. I’m not going to get worked into a lather over somebody’s pet pipe dream. I’ve come to learn that software products of a certain size and complexity just take a certain amount of time to create. Everybody working 14 hour days only causes people to start making silly mistakes and then everything just takes even longer. The one thing I’m confused about is why my management hasn’t come to learn that. They’re older than I am. And surely they’ve gone through this process more times than I have. And even dogs learn from experience after a while.

So anyway, back to today. Some test person submitted a bug against this pipe dream software (that was supposed to release LAST month), but the bug report had very little information in it, something along the lines of “It doesn’t work.” And so some other genius decided it must be a build problem. And then somebody else decided it would be a good idea to assign the bug to me. Me. The build coordinator. The one person on the team who has never even logged into the new bug tracking system. This would be like grabbing the guy who’s replacing your car’s transmission and handing him the electrical diagrams for the house you’re building and telling him that you need your house wired IMMEDIATELY. IF NOT SOONER. I think we can all agree that this would be a stupid thing to do. Not only would your house not end up wired IMMEDIATELY, your car wouldn’t end up running either. And that’s a lose/lose situation.

And then the people who sent the bug to me started calling about the bug. Over and over and over and over again. They wanted to know when I was going to fix their bug, but I didn't know how to fix their bug, so they told me all the reasons why they REALLY needed the bug fixed immediately, which didn't change the fact that I didn't know how to fix the bug because there was no evidence that there actually was a build problem which is the only kind of problem I could fix for them. I was sure that somebody just made up the part about it being a build problem because they didn’t know what else it could be. By this time, the red warning light in the middle of my forehead was signaling DEFCON 2, and I came THIS close to reaching through the phone and murdering someone and then spending the rest of my life in prison wearing an unattractive prison uniform with Paris.

After a half day of me being interrupted every ten minutes about this extremely urgent bug, two things were finally decided: 1) This bug wasn’t as serious as originally thought. It was not, in fact, blocking the test team from making any progress, and 2) It wasn’t a build problem. Which is EXACTLY what I had been saying every ten minutes for the last SIX HOURS. While I was trying to get some of my real work done. In between the interruptions TOO NUMEROUS TO COUNT.

Unfortunately, my attitude continued to decline even after all the phone calls stopped, so I decided to give myself a couple of hours off and went home early to drink wine and do nothing and recover from all the bullshit.

But on the way home, Slag called to tell me that the upstairs air-conditioner had stopped working and it was now a balmy 90 degrees in our bedroom and his office. Perfect. We’ve since applied for a second mortgage in the hopes of raising enough money to pay a repairman to come to the house after 5pm on a Friday. So it’s been a fabulous week, and I am ready for the weekend.


Blogger Em said...

Oh Jill, I seriously hope your weekend is better than your week. Maybe your co-workers will read your blog and realize just what a pain they really are. LOL

8:41 AM  
Blogger ian said...

Jilly, you make me glad I no longer work in a cubicle farm industry. :) I'm sorry you still gotta though. Make sure Slag takes extra special care of you this weekend.


9:31 AM  
Blogger Schmoopie said...

It truly sounds like the perfect weekend to kick back, relax and drink A LOT of wonderful wine. I hope you have a better week coming up!

1:52 PM  
Blogger Whippersnapper said...

It's comforting to know it's not just the education field that's all messed up with regards to stupid ideas, goals, time frames, etc., etc.

This is a dumb and dull comment. I just got back from the beach and I think I baked my brain along with my skin.

Appropriately, I'm being asked to type "aadozr" to publish this.

7:58 PM  
Blogger Kara said...

I'm convinced that Fate employs a "Build Coordinator". And that someone in my familial past insulted said Build Coordinator beyond redemption...and that's why I'm stuck with this pear-shaped body that refuses to loose weight today. don't work for Fate, do you?

2:23 AM  
Blogger Jazz said...

I'm not in software, but we have clones of your idiots working here. The type where a report deadline is Thursday 5:00, so it's turned into us at Thursday noon to check, proofread (read "rewrite" because they can't write a coherent sentence), print and bind in 15 copies. And they refuse to believe it can't be done. Idiots abound.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

em, No no, This blog is kept strictly away from coworkers. Otherwise, how could I talk about them behind their backs?

ian, Not to worry! Slag has done everything in his power to keep me happy.

schmoopie, Thanks. Any weekend that I don't have to be at work is good. :)

whippersnapper, It's true. You can find stupidity just about anywhere.

kara, Trust me. If I were a build coordinator for Fate, the first pear-shaped build I would ban is my own. Fate is a bitch.

jazz, One of my co-workers usually claims to have whatever the random doofus wants up his butt, where he keeps all the inventory. It's apparently a good strategy. Everybody is afraid of him.

7:38 PM  
Blogger JAM said...

Jilly, I found your blog via alchemy anyone and have had a great time reading yours and his blogs.

You stated in this post, "I’ve been through this about a thousand times over the years, and nowadays it’s really hard to get me all worked up into a frenzy because of some ludicrous release date pulled out of the air by someone who wouldn’t know an internet if it bit him on the butt."

Just to let you know, I'm a hardware guy, but I'm pretty sure, at least in our world, that it's NOT THE AIR from which marketing types pull the magical release date.

I was recently in the men's room with one such person and I think the strange sounds emanating from his stall was him pulling out release dates. At our company, they aren't pulled from somewhere much darker than "the air."

I suspect it's really the same at your company too.

10:31 AM  
Blogger JAM said...

Excuse me, make that "they ARE pulled from a place much darker than "the air."


10:33 AM  

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