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Maybe I Wasn’t Clear

December 13th, 2009 · No Comments · Potpourri

This ain’t fiction. This is an update on how Corporate Farris is currently doing.

The cast:

Boss (VP) – Goal-driven guy wants results. He’s “not interested in micro-managing” us, but he does want us to show our work. Figure that one out. Claims to hate meetings. Loves to schedule very long and unnecessary ones.

Larry, Moe, and Shemp – The IT team. I’m not sure which one is me, except that I ain’t Shemp. Shemp is the new guy. Yeah, I started this job two weeks ago, and I am not the new guy.

Foreign Office (R&D) – I’ll lump them all together here, because they have not only been the most consistently helpful player in this torrential rodeo, but I haven’t met enough of them to know who’s really calling the shots.

The Ladies (Sales) – The smiling face of the company. The ones who make the promises that we Stooges must somehow keep. They are, however, fairly forgiving and understanding when I tell them their proposed schedules are unreasonably short.

Scene 1:

Larry and Moe have never installed the company’s product anywhere, and suddenly receive word from on high that the first time we do so will be a new, untested, unreleased version. We’re given the product on a Thursday afternoon and asked to have it installed and tested that afternoon in order to discuss it with R&D Friday morning. When Larry and Moe ask where we should install it, VP says “on our production server.” Larry, Moe, and Shemp look over at R&D with heavy jaws as R&D says exactly what we’re all thinking: “ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY? INSTALL IT ON A CLEAN TEST ENVIRONMENT!”

So we look at the hardware available. It’s ALL production hardware. Thursday morning, R&D agrees to move the meeting to the following Tuesday so that we can sort out resource allocation and run through the installation ourselves a few times. R&D makes it clear that they cannot meet with us Monday, which is totally fine with the Stooges, since we won’t even have it installed until Monday. I spend Thursday and Friday juggling around the least important servers to some hastily converted virtual machines. My team puts in an order for some RAM so we can beef up two existing servers to move all possible non-production machines to virtual machines.

Saturday morning I get the test servers we need for this installation setup on one of those virtual hosts. Then I make the mistake of checking my email. There is a long thread in which Sales asks VP if we can let them use the test servers on Wednesday. No problem there, we’ll have tested it on Monday and discussed it with R&D on Tuesday.

Boss says “Let me see if I can get R&D to meet with the Stooges on Monday instead so that Sales can try it on Tuesday.”


Me: “Maybe I wasn’t clear: We just now got the proper machines to test them. We have never installed this product, one that R&D honestly tells us is very convoluted and difficult to understand. I have spent a large chunk of my weekend preparing so that we can meet these deadlines and follow a very risky 3-day schedule. Now you want to shorten it to a 2-day schedule? No. Setup a meeting on Monday if you want, but I won’t be there. I’ll be getting the shit done rather than talking about it without even knowing what the hell it is I’m supposed to be talking about.”

Boss: “OK.”

In these two short weeks, this has happened over and over again. I have to spell out every detail of every step in order for my already-pushing-it schedules and plans to be trusted or appreciated without someone meddling and thinking they know my job better than I do.

This sounds harsh and bitter I’m sure. But it’s not much different than other jobs. I know I’m not in Hell here, and that international business is flooded with this sort of “get it done yesterday, no matter what you don’t know” attitude. But I cannot and will not allow it to get to me this time.

And not just because they’re not paying me enough to give a shit.

OK, mostly because they’re not paying me enough to give a shit.

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