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Dizzying Intellect » Thin Line.

Thin Line.

I can’t take it anymore, so I’m going with pseudonyms. My boss doesn’t need one. She can be short-tempered and snappy at times, but (a) it’s usually at other people, (b) she immediately stops when I calmly say “don’t yell at me, I’m trying to help,” which no one else seems to have the testicular fortitude to do, (c) when halfwit DBAs get snarky with me, I can count on her to make them feel like semi-retarded toddlers, and (d) she’s crazy, crazy smart.

Also, she occasionally, un-ironically, calls me “dear,” which, frankly, is more affection than I get from my immediate family. And when G had his stroke, she called me at the emergency vet to check on him (she’s a dog person) and to tell me that she was praying for both of us. And she didn’t laugh at me when I start crying for the first time that day, at hearing that. So, you know.

Anyway. My other colleagues, not so much with the crazy smart.

Tweedledee is the office rattletrap. He’s madly in love with the sound of his own voice. (He’s also the one who cuts his nails at his desk. Retch.) He talks incessantly; very, very loudly; and never lets anyone else get a word in edgewise. He talks to himself louder than I talk to other people, and he does it with alarming regularity. He also talks just as loudly no matter how close you are in proximity to him. In the passenger seat of his minivan, going to an off-site meeting, your hair blows back from the sheer volume. To the best of my knowledge, he’s only been out of the US once, but his trip to Australia many years ago makes him a worldly, seasoned, and politically knowledgeable raconteur in his mind. Pontification, in the dictionary, includes his photo. He will lecture you endlessly on any subject, no matter how much he knows about it, or doesn’t. He tells the same story over and over and over (and over!), to people who sit one cube apart. My only recourse, upon hearing the story for the eighth time, is to tell him that I heard him the first seven times, and physically turn away and go back to my work, when he continues telling the story. And you know how I feel about rudeness. But it’s either that or kill him, and he’s actually a good programmer, so I can’t take the risk.

The good news is that he’s out of the office on vacation right now, so I can save my eardrums from my ipod at top-volume for two weeks. The bad news is that he’s in Europe, because his wife’s on some assignment over there, and he’ll be perfectly insufferable when he gets back.

Tweedledum is the opposite. He’s a pretty nice guy, in an obsequious, smarmy way. He gossips like a woman, which squicks me out, but I only had to snap at him once to make him stop grilling me for drama. And he’s not a bad coder, really, but he’s lazy. Since there’s only four of us, including my boss, however, we can’t afford lazy. It’s not even his fault, really. We all try to compensate for him, because he hasn’t learned anything about the business in the year and a half that he’s been with us. He’ll make three changes to one program over the course of a month, but somehow never actually learn what the program does — it’s almost like an intentional mental blockage, he does it so consistently. So when the third change should take him thirty seconds, it takes him a month — just like the first change did — because he still doesn’t know what tables are affected, what it does, or how it falls into the business process. And half the time, when I move his changes to production, they don’t even compile. No matter how many times we tell him not to delete his emails (they’re all deleted automatically after 45 days), he still does, so he has no record of the last two changes, and how/why they fit into the job stream. And he refuses to take notes, much less save them digitally. Because of this, Tweedledee and I have this weird, compulsive reflex to help with any problem he has, that we’re cc’ed on, just for the sake of time. We need to stop it, because (a) Tweedledum must eventually start absorbing, if only by force, (b) it’s hurting our productivity, (c) taking responsibility for his own slackness will make him work faster and better, and stop yapping about his band (He’s at least 55. Jeez. Grow up.) on the phone, and (d) it’s annoying and annoyance makes me sleep badly.

Today, my boss asked Tweedledum to figure out why a few records were randomly not being sent to accounts receivable, with everything else. In the same email, she asked me to verify the actual receipt records from the vendor, which is much more convoluted, but still only took about 20 minutes, because I know that process well and have it documented cleanly. Five hours later, he came over and asked me if there was anything he could do to help me figure out what was wrong with the AR transactions. And now I need a drink.

I should add here that I don’t hate, or even really dislike, either of them. They just make me bang my head on my desk and wish I had strong anti-psychotic drugs. And maybe one day my books will make them famous? No, not really. So I have to vent. One day I will hopefully retire, and I’d like to do it with my brain mostly intact.

4 Comments

  • By radix, August 6, 2008 @ 9:14 pm

    I’m afraid you lost me….

    slow to code
    doesn’t understand the code being maintained despite 1yr+ working on it
    code doesn’t compile regularly going from dev to prod

    and you called Tweedledum a good coder? What am I missing here?

    I have two general principles for this scenario:
    1) I will teach you to fish but I won’t give you a fish
    2) if I have to do your job, I’m going to take credit for the work

    I feel for ya ’suge, it would be nice if we only had grownups at work.

  • By Tracy, August 7, 2008 @ 8:37 am

    Ok - when you started describing Tweedledum, I figured he was a kid fresh out of college or something. I’ve encountered that attitude (not getting to know things) a lot with new programmers and some of the Indian crews I’ve worked with (thankfully, I’ve also worked with some really awesome Indian programmers, so I can’t complain overall.)

    I just find it personally rewarding to understand the ins and outs of a system, so that you can birddog those problems that much easier. I would hate facing a system completely blind every day. Yuck.

  • By Tanya, August 7, 2008 @ 9:26 am

    I should say, when we’re too busy to help, and he’s forced to do it himself, he’s not a bad coder. (I didn’t say “good,” technically.) The compile issues are actually a symptom of the laziness, not the ability. He’ll make a db change, but since he doesn’t write it down anywhere, he forgets to promote it. That doesn’t work so well.

    And I’m sure I’m not the perfect colleague either. But if so, they can bitch about me on their blogs.

  • By Erica, August 26, 2008 @ 2:38 pm

    I’m still back on dude cutting his nails at his desk. That is a huge pet peeve of mine and there are a frightening number of people who do that in the office.

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