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Automatically Programmed To Hate You

| Working | October 17, 2015

(It is the late 80s. I work as a programmer for a modest sized firm. My manager is a woman who seems to have it in for me.)

Nemesis: “The system is running very slow. I need you to back up our whole Unix system, blank the drive, then restore it. That might speed it up.”

Me: “Yeah, that works for PCs. Let me look into how to go about doing that.”

(I check the documentation for the system backup and, lo and behold, the documentation explicitly states that the backup and restore procedure won’t speed up the drive, and you risk losing your data in the process. Naturally, I am concerned for possible catastrophic data loss, so I take the manual back to her office.)

Me: “I think this might be a bad idea. Look.” *shows documentation*

Nemesis: *slowly turns red in anger* “You did this to make me look bad!”

Me: “What? I didn’t write the documentation. I was just pointing out the hazard.”

Nemesis: “Whatever! Just forget it!”

(Not long after that I am transferred to a different manager, who is a bit more reasonable. One day I come into his office and he’s discussing a sorting program with my nemesis. She has hired a contractor for an entire month at a high hourly rate to create the program. I am asked to weigh in on the program:)

Me: “It seems like a lot of effort was put into the program when something could have been written in an afternoon.”

Nemesis: “That’s impossible! This is a difficult program to write!” *she storms out of the office*

Manager: “Can you do it?”

Me: “What? Write the program in a few hours? Of course.”

Manager: “DO it!”

(A few hours later I’ve reproduced the program and give it to Manager. I miss the fireworks that happens behind closed doors, but the next day I am in Manager’s office when my nemesis barges in with a small stack of paper.)

Nemesis: “Hah! I ran a million records against both programs and here are the results: the original program was 2 seconds faster! So there!”

Me: “But was it worth 160 hours of contract work at $80 an hour for that?”

(She flushed with anger again and left. Apparently management had been asking the same question.)

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