PermaLink Getting over one illness and acquiring another03/04/2009 10:06 PM
I developed full-blown pneumonia.  Now, I'm just sick of everything.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter were probably aware I was coughing up bits of mastodon meat and some trilobyte fossils over the last couple of weeks. I finally went in for an exam, and by answering the MD's question, "what seems to be the problem?" with a two-minute coughing fit that pulled a muscle in my back, I earned a trip to the imaging lab downstairs. They took a couple of chest X-ray images, and sent me back upstairs.

"Yup," the MD said. "There's a spot in your right lung that's probably pneumonia, but it's not lung cancer." Gee, thanks. They sent me on my way with a ten-day prescription for antibiotic tablets that are literally larger than our male rabbits' balls, and a command to return in two weeks for a follow-up X-ray.

I am already breathing much better. I haven't coughed up a trilobyte in days now.

But I'm getting fucking sick of other things. I'm getting fucking sick of my day job. I am unaware of pills that will help with that.

Not the job itself, mind you, which is as good as it's been lo these nearly fifteen years. If I challenge myself and have some extended time to think out problems, I can always come up with something good. My peers are technically-skilled, hilarious folks with insight and good sense and personality. The kind of people I am proud to call friends and cow-orkers. No, it's the environment and the people above me. I was warned -- repeatedly -- by my old, now-retired-or-departed management, that I wouldn't work well with this crew, and I knew what I was in for, but that doesn't make it any better.

I am results oriented. Do what you do, do it well, come up with a solution, I don't give a shit if you show your work. If things succeed, that's its own reward.

These people are process oriented. We don't much give a shit what you do all day (mostly because we can't grok it anyway) as long as you're on time in the morning to sit there and do it.

I am a flat-organization guy. Get to the people who know what you need to know or who can do what you need to have done, any way you cna do it, in real time.

These people are militantly hierarchical. Go through the chain of command, follow channels. How dare you sidestep management, even when "management" adds zero value to the end result?

I cannot stand meetings. Anything worth meeting about is worth addressing in email or in collaborative software, on which we've spent tens of millions of dollars over the years.

These people are big fans of standing meetings. Inspiration rarely if ever occurs on every other Tuesday at 1:30pm.

Worst, at my recent start-of-the-review-period meeting, I was told these folks want me to be more "involved," to "take the lead on things."

This, after a year and a half of getting my ass chewed when I (as I've done most of my 28-year career in this industry) actually did this. Repeatedly, I was told, "you are not management, how dare you take action on your own when your professional judgment dictated that something needed to be done to avert or resolve problems?" I am the de facto team lead, except when it comes to having the power to actually do anything meaningful.

The definition of frustration for me is "responsibility without authority." Put me on the hook for something, and then don't provide me any real power to actually do anything to achieve a result. Second-guess me. Nickel-and-dime me with administrative and organizational bullshit. And then, if I stand aside at a time when I could have averted a problem, bitch at me for not taking action for which I'd have been crucified anyway. That's a perfect recipe for frustration and detachment.

And of course, expect no support from any level of higher management at any time. Got a problem? We'll do our best to exacerbate it. Given a choice between helping and hindering, they'll hinder every time. Their interest is in defending the system that elevated them beyond their abilities, not in getting the best results for the organization. And helping you, in their mindset, harms them. Zero-sum games abound, even in an arena where there's no real money, no real power and no real promotion path.

Why yes, these are nontechnical managers! How the hell did you guess???


I am even beyond the worry about whether said nontechnical managers read this and call me to task on it. Folks, if you have some other viewpoint on this, get your own damn blog (if you can set it up without help) and tell your side of the story and let the Jury of The World decide. Me, I'm just sick as shit of all this bullshit. 28 years in this business, 14 years in this job, countless awards, raises, promotions and kudos over the years, and suddenly in the last year and a half I look like a slacker jackoff? Funny... that's when I started to work with you people.

As they used to say on Sesame Street, "one of these things is not like the other." The "problem" only started when you people shoved your way into my worklife. I don't fit your peg-hole. I am not an asshole and therefore do not fit into sphincter-shaped spaces.

Remember my Four Rules of Debugging? What is it, what's it supposed to do, when's the last time it actually did that, what'd you do to fuck it up? This is definitely an Item Four situation. Somebody decided to change a situation that worked well for everybody, and as a result it don't work no more. At least not as well as it should.

Some people are not value-adds. Some people are value-subtracts.

Fuck all this. Eight years to go till I can retire. I never wanted to get that "lifer" mentality, but I've outlasted better people, I'll outlast you, too. I am a turtle. I am nothing if not durable. That thing around my neck is not just jewelry. It means something.

I will take care of me, because nobody else seems to want to do it.


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1. Bill Brown03/05/2009 02:38:58 PM

Shortly after I started at my current employer, i developed a phrase to cope with the idiotic nonsense around me. It was prompted by someone I sat near being told to get 3 quotes to buy a $10wrist wrest. They spent $15 in payroll+bennefits to save maybe a couple of bucks.

"It's the <employer name> way!"

I taught it to a 30 year veteran in the organization and he used it for another 10+ years until his recent retirement.

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