Distraction In Action

, , , , | Right | October 15, 2017

(After a recent switch from full-time to part-time, I have been downsized from a private office to a cubicle that faces the main lobby. I’ve had the same conversation several times a day since the move.)

Client: “Hey, you moved!”

Me: “Yep, I did. Smaller job, smaller space.”

Client: “Oh, that’s too bad. I bet you get a lot more distracted out here.”

Me: “Not really; I’m good at focusing on my work.”

Client: “Oh, but don’t all the people walking by distract you?”

Me: “Only when they ask me if I get distracted a lot.”

The Customer Is Always… You

, , , , | Working | October 13, 2017

(Our team has just had a meeting where we were shown how important reading our customers’ minds are, and how important it is to imitate them.)

Me: *whispering* “I can’t believe that the boss expects us to now read the customers’ minds! What are we, psychic?! And imitating?”

Coworker: “I guess that means we’ll be expected to act angry and upset all the time. And customers have no minds, so…”

(His comment made me laugh hard after that terrible meeting.)

Not Speaking The Same Programming Language

, , , , | Working | October 13, 2017

(It is the mid 80s, and I have a coworker come to me with two full pages of computer programming source code.)

Coworker: “Hey, can you help me with this? This function is not working right.”

Me: “Sure. What’s it do?”

Coworker: “Well, on the first line I copy…” *drones on for a few seconds about stuff I can clearly read*

Me: “Wait! Let me interrupt for a moment. I can read the code. In 20 words or less, what does this do?

Coworker: *long pause that tells me he’s having trouble seeing the forest for the trees* “It, um, converts a date that’s a string to three integers: month, day, and year.”

Me: “Ah! Excellent. And by the time you get the string, has it been sanitized? You know, guaranteed to be pairs of digits with a slash in-between, not blanks or words or other garbage?”

Coworker: “Oh, yeah, all the user input is cleaned up.”

Me: “Okay, good.”

(I scribble “sscanf(text, “%02d/%02d/%02d”, &month, &day, &year);” in a blank spot on the page.)

Me: “Throw out everything and replace it with that.”

Coworker: “You’re kidding.”

Me: “Not at all. Use that. It’ll work. Trust me.”

Coworker: *not sure* “Well, okay.”

(Half an hour later he’s back and looking a bit sheepish.)

Coworker: “That worked. Thanks.”

Me: “No problem.”

(It’s been 30 years. Unfortunately, the new generation of programmers is in the same spot.)

Interrupted Development

, , , , , | Right | October 12, 2017

(I’m a developer at a tech startup. I’m working on some analytics for the Business Development team. The CEO and one of the BD managers are in the office with me. The BD team asks the CEO a question about the analytics I’m building. The CEO stops what he’s doing, turns to me, and repeats the question.)

Me: “Yes, I can do that.”

(I go back to work. A few minutes pass.)

Business Dev Team: “Hey, [CEO], can the report give a breakdown by region?”

(Again, the CEO stops what he’s doing, turns to me, and repeats the question.)

Me: “No problem; give me a couple minutes and I’ll have it ready for you.”

(I go back to work. A few minutes pass.)

Business Dev Team: “Hey, [CEO], can we add—”

CEO: “Why do you keep asking me? [My Name] is sitting right there!”

Business Dev Team: “Yeah, but he’s working. I don’t want to keep interrupting him.”

How To Monday On A Saturday

, , , , , , | Working | October 11, 2017

(My former boss is an incredibly high-strung jerk without any kind of time management or people skills. I receive these shrieking voicemails on my personal cell phone one day when she’s on vacation. The first voicemail:)

Boss: “I have been trying to reach you and [Colleague #1] and [Colleague #2] at the office for an hour this morning. How dare you slack off like this?! We have deadlines! Just because I’m away does not mean you get to waltz into work whenever you feel like it! There are important cases that need to be done by the time I get back! If someone doesn’t call me back in the next ten minutes, you are all fired; do you understand me?! Your a** is out on the street, and I will make sure no one hires you! I will have you and [Colleague #1] disciplined by the [Licensing Authority]! YOU WILL NEVER WORK AGAIN!

(Her screams toward the end escalate in volume and shrillness to the point where I can’t keep the phone against my ear. Then, I listen to the second voicemail.)

Boss: “Um, someone here pointed out that it is Saturday. Please ignore the last voicemail. But I expect you to call me as soon as you get in on Monday! We have important deadlines to make, and I’m extending my vacation, so I need you and [Colleagues #1 and #2] to be on the ball!”

(And she wondered why she couldn’t keep even incompetent employees, and why she didn’t have a better reputation in the field.)

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