Marines are taught not walk atop a ridge where they may be silhouetted against the sky and easily targeted by the enemy. When a Marine was raising too much hell and pissing off his superiors, he would be told to “get off the skyline.” Keep his head down. Lay low for awhile.

I had to get off the skyline.

I couldn’t overplay my hand on with Charlie. I would have to work within the system and either marginalize him, or pen-fuck him (another term from the Corps that means to write some one up) until he was gone.

In the meantime, I got busy. I had to write so much code, so fast, that Mr. Whiteboard would have no choice but to let me have my way.

I started with the open ticket report. Was there even an “open-ticket report?” The only way I could see what my team was working on was to query the crappy e-Ticket application that Mr. Coffee has written. “Application” was glorifying it – it was a bunch of screens cobbled together, with no flow, no standards, a hack of biblical proportions. You would click on a link in the InfoNet, and a screen would pop up with a bunch of fields. You couldn’t tell if you were supposed to start entering your ticket, or search for an open ticket, or get up and walk down to Starbucks. It was that bad.

I hate programs that suck. I especially hate programmers that write programs that stuck. I was starting to hate Mr. Coffee, because the more I used his crappy, illogical, convoluted e-Ticket “application”, the more I hated it. I can understand if a developer is new to development and not quite sure how to design a user interface. I can understand if a developer is in over his head. But I can tell if a developer just doesn’t give a fuck. E-Ticket had “fuck-it” written all over it.

I called Mr. Coffee into my cube.

“I’m trying to run some queries to find all the open tickets.”

“Yeah, sure, no problem.” Mr. Coffee was always so damn agreeable. “Just select that drop down, fill in that field, and click search.”

I followed his instructions. I got some bogus results, tickets from the network department.

“Oh, yeah, sure, you just need to enter ‘AppDev’,” he explained. I followed his instructions and got all the open-tickets. For everybody. Even though I had selected Charlie from the “Assigned To” drop-down.

“Umm, What’s up with that?”

“Oh, yeah, sure, I know. There’s a bug. I gotta look into that.”

I looked at him, nodding. Hard to get pissed at such a pleasant fellow.

“Isn’t there some sort of report that goes out to the supervisors with the open tickets?” I had seen such a report in one of the meetings.

“Yeah, sure, you should be getting it. All the supervisors get it.”

That didn’t surprise me. I had been there a month and there were still people who did not know what I did at TCTSRN. It’s not like Mr. Whiteboard sent out a memo. Pussy.

“Well, who runs those reports?”

“Yeah, sure, I’ll call her. Sure, no prob, can I see your phone?” He had a habit of starting every sentence with an affirmation.

He called the girl in charge of the reporting and handed me the phone. “You’re not on the distribution list. It’s for supervisors only,” she said. She was nice. Competent. Articulate. And white. Could I get her on my team, I wondered? I felt an urge to get some diversity on my staff. A white female would go far in tipping that equation away from 75% Asian males.

“I am a supervisor.”

“I thought so. Just have Mr. Coffee put in a request to put you on the distribution list.”

I hung up. “She said something about putting me on a distribution list.”

“Oh, yeah, sure, no problem.”

Man, he was agreeable. I was starting to like having a yes-man. Not starting to like Mr. Coffee, just the idea of having someone constantly agreeing with you. “So let’s see what open tickets you’re working on.”

“Sure, no problem. Just check that box, change that drop-down, and push that button,” he said, pointing to my monitor. At least he knew how to work the site he had written. That’s the true sign of a bad developer – their programs make sense only to them.

The page reloaded and pulled up about four open tickets assigned to him. I noticed one that was about three months old, opened by Mr. Bill. The CIO.

“What’s the story with this one?”

“Oh, yeah, sure. It’s some project planner page that I did for Mr. Bill. Yeah, it only works on my system. Not sure why…yeah, not really sure.”

“Only on your system?”

“Yeah, only my system. Yeah, don’t know what’s going on with that page.”

“Can I take a look at it? Do you have the link?”

“Yes, no prob, sure.” He rattled off the URL. I keyed it in and a black page loaded, slowly. That was odd. It was like there was an image that was being loaded, or some reference that was out of whack.

I viewed the source. I found the problem in the third line.

“Your stylesheet path is pointed to your machine name. Every time the page loads it tries to connect to your PC and load the stylesheet. Since the server doesn’t have access to you system, the page hangs.”

“Oh, yeah, sure, no problem. I can fix that. Wow, yes, I’ll get right on it.” He was nodding and smiling. Bobblehead.

I nodded with him. We sat there, nodding together. Agreeing.

I wanted to see how agreeable he was.

“What would you say if I asked you to shove this Logitech G7 Laser Mouse up your ass?” I asked as I held up my mouse.

“Yeah, sure, uh, no problem…”

I made that last part up.

But how does one actually get a hard-coded reference to a stylesheet in a page in the first place? God, did he even view the source? And what was Mr. Bill thinking, waiting three months to get a page to work on his very special InfoNet. This is what he was talking about that day he called me up to his office. The shear incompetence, the slough, the lackadaisical approach to all things related to “Application Development”. He probably thought Mr. Whiteboard’s developers were idiots, and I agreed. I started to hate Mr. Coffee again.

“Ok, let’s get that page fixed and close out that ticket. And please get me on that distribution list.”

“No problem, sure. I’ll get right on it.” He backed out of my cube, grinning, his head still bobbing.

I realized I was going to have to start coming in on the weekends.

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