February 28, 2002
[This brain fart has been put on hold so that I may keep my job. That, and I'm still fuming about it more than 15 hours later. I'll make an announcement on one of my updates when the coast is clear.]
Update: Now it can be told.
Basically, I was working on a third-party program that we'd created the layout for. It's, quite frankly, a pain in the ass due to how limited it is and how convoluted it can be. But there was no deadline that I knew of, so I wasn't really getting stressed about it. If 5:00 rolled around and I was stumped, I just left to take a fresh look the next day.
Then I found out Wednesday night that John wanted to take it with him Thursday afternoon. Gee, that woulda been nice to know on Monday. So I'm there late, trying to fix this one last bug. One of my coworkers, a senior programmer who knows more about Windows-style .ini files, took a look and found a global variable that might be causing the bug. We flipped it, and the bug was fixed.
And it created another bug. It was late, and the thing was just in demo form, since the client using this software was still getting us information for it. I proposed a quick fix that would invlove "hiding" a button behind a part of the program. When that part went away and nothing happened (the new bug) the button would appear, telling the user to click it to continue. Ugly, for sure, but the best idea I had at the time.
The department head checked in to see how things were going as I was telling the designers about the new bug. We walked over, looked at the program, and talked options. At the time I only saw two: Leave it as-is and apply the band-aid so we could look at the thing later, or revert to the old bug and work around it. The first option had the advantage of being in place; the second option had the advantage of being more transparent.
(Sorry I'm not giving more detail here, but I'm erring on the side of too little information.)
She said my two options were unacceptable, and began lecturing me -- in public -- about the need for professionalism. Lectured. Publicly. For being unprofessional. Does anyone else see the hypocrisy in that? Anyway, I've received the lecture before, in public before, and this time I'd had enough. I backed up a few inches, motioned to the screen, and told her to program away.
Needless to say, she wasn't happy with that at all.
We step into a conference room -- the first time in the history of the company that someone was bitched out in private, I think -- and had a conversation that basically boils down to:
"Your attitude and sarcasm won't cut it here!"
"Then show me some goddamn respect!"
"Do your job!"
"Let me do my job!"
As we left the room, she assured me the incident would be "documented", which I took to mean she'd see John first thing in the morning and tell him to fire me. And when I got to work the next day, guess who was in John's anteroom.
I went back to the group, who seemed resigned to one of two less than optimal solutions, and we discussed pros and cons for a few minutes. Then something in my brain clicked and I saw a way to solve the problem.
A couple experiments with the .ini file later, I had something that worked, or was at least ready to be tested.
So, I was incorrect -- there was a better solution. But I still think that when I told my department head that I could see two options, it's her job to accept that. I've shown several times that I'm willing to work something through to completion, so it's not like I was just trying to get out of something.
I don't know how well I've described what I've started referring to as The Argument, or just how tired I was of being treated like I'm incompetent, or really of anything here. All I know is, she finally pushed me too far, and I was within about five seconds of quitting.
I stayed, but not for long.