Tunnel Rat posted on November 14, 2006 18:05

Monday morning came and went. As usual, Mr. Whiteboard was nowhere to be found. Wasn’t this a serious issues for him? One of his staff, this golden boy that he had hired to drag his company into the web age, was snooping around his new supervisor’s hard drive. How about a sense of urgency?

Finally, at 3 PM, he called me into his office. Charlie was there, sitting rat-faced in front of his desk.

Mr. Whiteboard gestured for me to close the door and take a set next to Charlie.

“I think Charlie has an explanation for this, uh…, SafeSource thing.” It’s called SourceSafe, but never mind, you non-technical bozo, I wanted to say.

Charlie started showing me some screenshots. He has taken my documents out of one folder in the archives (which resided on his system), and moved them into a new folder that he named “Documentations.” I didn’t remember checking in those files, but the datestamps were three weeks old.

I reasoned that I could have checked them in, maybe to check if SourceSafe was setup correctly. And a reckoned that Charlie probably was doing some rearranging and moved my archives around into a folder that he created. Reasonable enough.

So instead of pleading guilty to the Class-A felony of hacking my hard-drive, he copped to a Class-C misdemeanor of moving my files around without informing me. Not really a firing offense, but one deserving of a reprimand.

What’s the big deal, you anal dweeb, you may be asking yourself.

Well for one, if you are working on a large project with hundreds of files, and you are mapped to specific working folders in the archives, and if someone moves your folders around, you have to spend some time remapping those folders to your working environment. This might have to happen when a few people are standing in your cube wanting to know if how soon you can fix a hellacious production bug. Trust me, you do not want to be squaring away your mappings in such a situation. Been there, done that – it sucks.

Secondly, moving someone’s files around in the archives without telling them is equivalent to bitch-slapping another developer. It’s like saying “Fuck-you, bitch. I can do whatever I want to the code base and not tell you. You’re my bitch!” It’s a complete and utter lack of professional courtesy, which was not Charlie’s strong suit.

I weighed my options. I could counsel Charlie in a nice, measured tone, demonstrating my soft skills to my boss and proving that I could take an awkward situation and use it as an object lesson. But I sensed Mr. Whiteboards attention span seeping out the room. He had no patience for this sort of arbitration.

I punted. “OK, I guess it was a misunderstanding. Next time let me know if you are going to move some files around.”

That should have been the end of it. Mr. Whiteboard was smiling. Not the spastic grin he got when Mr. Bill was around, but a smile of relief that I hadn’t escalated things.

Then Charlie pulled the pin on another grenade.

“O, ah wanded to show you dad I was correct aboud dad email ding.”

Want the fuck was he talking about? My mind did a table scan.



That stuff about send email via SMTP from…?


…a local mail server?

Record located….

Oh, that “email ding.” A few days before, I was having trouble with some code that sent email from a web page. It took me a bit of Googling to find that Microsoft had reworked the Mail namespace and that it took some tweaking to get it to work in some rare cases. No big deal, but one of this glitches that developers in the trenches face every day.

Most programmers get the code to work and move on. I try to document these lessons learned and post them somewhere so that other developers on my team don’t have to waste their time retracing my footsteps. One of the first things I did at T.C.T.S.R.N. was to setup an internal forum site for such purposes, and I had been posting to it.

But I had started to see a pattern. Every time I posted something, Charlie would respond with his own posting, usually a worthless comment like “You could also do it this way…” and maybe have some code that was sort of like mine, but slightly different. Sometime his code had bugs. Sometimes he would just link to another site. But the point was that none of my posts would go unchallenged.

I had gotten tired of this pissing contest. After he posted some bug-ridden code in response to my SMTP mail post, I had sent him an email and told him to knock it off. I suggested he visit a site that held coding contests, that way he could demonstrate his programming genius to the world. I also demanded that he delete his buggy code from the forum before any other developers get confused. He had done neither.

Charlie let the spoon fly.

“My post was basically correct because de nedwork peeble said dad we should not be using our local mail servers to send email.”

Mr. Whiteboard glared at me with a “What the hell is he talking about?” look.

I went ballistic. Here I was, taking the high road and letting this whole sordid version control episode get swept under the rug, when the least that should have happened to Charlie was a written warning, and this feral creature…this underground-dwelling dweeb…this toxic-breathed maggot, was using my graciousness as an opportunity to score geek points in front of our boss. Motherfucker…Cocksucking Piece of Shit…That Little Fucking Shitbird!

I felt my face getting red. I was losing it.

“That code is wrong and you knew it!” I was pissed. I was on full-auto and firing for effect. “I told you to get that bogus code off of the forum! And now you’re trying to turn it into a network issue. This is absurd!”

It was a good thing that the door was closed, because my voice was above the “touchy-feely/let’s respect everyone’s opinion /strive towards a win-win result” level. Fuck win-win. I wanted his ass, the little turd. The nerve of him.

Mr. Whiteboard was reeling. “Uh, uh, what’s this all about?”

Shit. Now I would have to explain the technical details about this crap to my boss, and indulge Charlie in an esoteric debate about the difference between a programming issue and a networking policy. No way, I thought.

“Look, we don’t need to get into it. I setup a forum to exchange technical details and Charlie’s been using it to demonstrate his programming expertise. This is trivial.” I had lost my bearing and was trying to recover. My ears were still ringing from the concussion of Charlie’s grenade. The office seemed small and hot.

My boss was clearly in over his head. A more seasoned guy with a modicum of gonads would told us to knock it off, sternly reminded Charlie of his place in the food chain, and told us to get the hell out of his office. But not Mr. Whiteboard. Pussy.

“Now, um, you guys need to work together. I, uh, don’t want to see anymore of this stuff.” He was doing his best Rodney King impersonation. I expected him to whine “Can’t we just get along?” God, he was a fucking pussy.

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