Thursday, September 15, 2005

It's quiet. Too quiet.

I know there hasn't been a whole lot going on here lately. Part of that has to do with the fact that I managed to take a week off of work a little while back. It was just a week, but it was a week of peace and quiet. The constant racket of downtown living was replaced by bird song, quiet conversation and the occasional dog bark. I didn't manage to get completely away from the computer or from development, but I was able to put the office aside and get some (well, only a little, really) of my personal work done. And for a few days, there, I actually felt something like healthy.

Then the week of peace ended, and it was time to go back to work. I really didn't understand what the job was doing to me until that first day back. I could feel my chest tightening, my stomach churning, the tension returning to every muscle in my body. My back made its presence known in no uncertain terms. That was all within an hour of returning to the office. Since then, my insomnia has returned. I knew right away that this job is killing me.

So to anyone that was expecting to see me at the 'sphere, I'm afraid I'll probably have to disappoint you. I may need the money to bridge the gap between jobs. I'm not exactly well-positioned for a strategic withdrawal from the working world, and I don't have anything firm lined up yet. Who knows? I may end up flipping burgers or something for a while.

All I know is that I can't stay where I am, locked permanently into R5, doing minimal-touch maintenance on some of the most horrifically poorly architected and designed applications I've ever seen. (There is no way anyone can convince me that four minutes to open a form is either normal or acceptable.) I don't like not being able to fix the fundamental problems because quarterly numbers take precedence over an overall ROI on a proper fix. I don't like being handed projects in mid-stream that have been approved with estimates that are off by an order of magnitude because the time allotted for estimation is insufficient, or where the specification has little or nothing to do with the actual requirements (something that is likely to turn up only in acceptance testing). I don't like nondeterministic development cycles, waiting for weeks or months to have high-priority stuff tested by stakeholders who are too busy already, while my deliverables slip and the slippage is recorded against my performance. I don't like doing an hour of paperwork for every hour of development effort (on my own time, thanks) that is likely to be rejected at some level because I didn't use the magic words. Most of all, I don't like being called a "consultant" when I'm actually just an interchangeable warm body in just another outsourcing centre, distinguishable from my Indian colleagues only by time zone (for which the client pays a small premium).

I'm good at what I do when I'm allowed to do what I'm good at. I've been known to put in 400-hour months to get the job done. I hope that when I put this job behind me I can use my powers for good. I have applications to release to beta and a book to finish, neither of which I've been able to do, what with my soul being sucked dry and all. I look forward to the day when I can solve somebody's real problems after finding out for myself what the problems were in the first place.

And I look forward to meeting some of you some day, if I can ever afford it.


Ben Poole said...

Gah! Many of us have been there Stan, and for what it's worth sympathise. An horrendous waste of talent IMHO ;o) Hope things work out well, and SOON!

Anonymous said...

You've made the right decision.

Ashish Sidapara said...

As Ben pointed out, many of us have gone thru this and its just matter of time and things should be fine.

Karen said...

"Leap, and the net will appear."

Stan Rogers said...

@Ben: I did kind of get the feeling that I was repeating an entry of yours from a couple of years back while I was typing.

Jess said...

Me personally, I define my success by happiness, not money. I'm sure most would agree. At least I hope so. Matt and I took a big financial hit when I went out on my own, but in terms of well-being, it's real cost was priceless.

Besides, so we used to have extra money to go out to dinner... if all we did over dinner was complain about a job, there wasn't much point anyway. :-)

Right when I started, I apologized to him almost daily, for being the cause of our shut-in status. He'd always interrupt me by saying that it was worth it to see the way I changed. Apparently I was a different person (in a good way).

I say quality of life and health over a job any day. I'd definately rather be flipping burgers happily than waking up every morning thinking, "do I really have to get up today?"

(true story: one of my dearest friends swears the best job he ever had was working at the twist-tie factory, making those little paper things you tie bread bags with.)

Anyway, you are GOOD at what you do and the only thing that matters is that you are doing what you truly enjoy.

Stan Rogers said...

That's pretty much the way I look at it, Jess. But there's a difference between "things are a little tight" and "nothing left to sell, no way to borrow and nowhere to live". Having been in the latter position before, I was probably a little more reluctant to let go than I should have been.

Jess said...

I know, I know. In hindsight, I realize I always tend to look at things with a bit of naivety... sorry. I just don't like seeing anyone miserable.

Maybe your teaching license is due for renewal? :-)

Karen said...

One book, one host family per month, for however many months. We agree to put you up for the month, rent-free, you agree to dedicate one chapter to each host family. (Okay, I don't know what the book is about. Who's going to want a chapter titled "Hell and Back" dedicated to them?) This is just a brainstorming effort.

I don't know. You want to write. You want to visit. It just came to me. And I don't even know you (that's probably why it sounds okay. lol).

Stan Rogers said...

Hmmmm... serial freeloading. I hadn't considered that. Thanks, Karen!

Karen said...

Right. That, or cereal freeloading, if you choose the bed and breakfast route. ;-)

Jess said...

Karen, I don't know you, but I appreciate your sense of humor. :-)

What a great idea. Matt and I were actually just talking last night about how amazing it is that every single family has a completely different dynamic...

STAG said...

And you to whom adversity has dealt the final blow,
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go,
Stand to, and put up all your strength of arm and heart and brain,
And, like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again!

Rise Again! Rise again,
Though your heart it be broken and your life about to end.
No matter what you've lost,
Be it a home, a love, a friend,
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again!