Thursday, October 9, 2008

Anatomy of an Ass Clown

Anatomy of an Ass Clown

Brad Maunikey had been summoned yet again to his boss's office. Bad enough that he had been banished to a floor where there were no other coders, but for some reason, his boss, Carp felt compelled to summon him regularly for conversations that could easily be accomplished via email. A little out of breath from the stairs, Brad poked his head into Carp's door and noticed that the office was empty.

"Yeah, right, summon me and take off. What an ass clown!" he offered to the empty office. Brad walked over and took a chair next to the windows in Carp's office. While Carp had some windows, it was still a crappy office. The furniture was that old particle board stuff whose edges were worn and chipped. The so-called guest chairs were old secretary chairs that should have been discarded and probably had been.

"Hey Brad, thanks for coming up." Jack Carp said as he walked through the door and swung his large frame around the edge of the desk.

"Sure. What's up Jack?" Brad returned.

At that moment, Carp's computer jangled indicating that he had an incoming text message. It was one of Carp's big things. Everyone on Carp's team was on an instant message system so he could get hold of you at any moment. "Hang on a sec, this is important." Carp turned his attention away from Brad as he started conversing with one of the other members of his team.

Brad worked for a company called IPSO as a software developer. While Brad loved writing code, this particular gig was fairly pathetic. He was only working at IPSO because one of his good friends, Paul Bently was a major shareholder in the company and had requested that he help out. Apparently Carp felt this was some sort of breach and was dead set on making Brad's life miserable. Well, it was working. If not for the request, he would have bailed on these clowns within a couple of months. As it was, he had stuck it out for an entire year and no amount of loyalty was worth this junk.

Carp finally looked up from his computer and turned his attention to Brad. Jack Carp was dressed in dark khakis and a poorly fitting, long sleeved polo shirt. Brad recognized this particular outfit as one of Carp's standard uniforms. Brad felt a little pity for Carp as he noticed the sweat stains building up under his arms. This guy had a serious sweat problem and when he felt pressure it got worse. This particular shirt must be his "go-to" when he expected a bad day, as there was evidence of previous bad days. Brad was almost mesmerized staring at the stains thinking that it was something like the rings of a tree.

"Alright Brad, so here's the thing. I am scrapping your project." Carp let his words hang in the air for a moment.

"Crap, Jack, you've got to be kidding. We're almost done! Have you seen the testing?" Brad could barely contain himself. He and his team had worked on this project for almost a year and they were nearly ready to start showing it to the product teams.

"Yeah, I've seen the testing. As you well know you are getting a lot of false positives. We just can't afford to keep spending money on a system that doesn't work." Jack Carp, whilefocused on Brad, was rubbing the palms of his hands on his khakis.

"You've got to be kidding me Jack. Why do you think they are false positives?" Brad's head was starting to spin. This was crap and he knew it, but what was Jack trying to do? Sure Jack was an ass-clown but until now he had simply been a joke, ineffective and pompous.

"Brad, we have verified with Triton-2 that your project is kicking out tons of bad data. Look, its over. I know it is hard to take, but let it go."

IPSO as a company provided software to credit card companies. The Triton-2 program was IPSO's flagship but venerable fraud detection system. The technology used to run Triton-2 was written in the late 80s and was ancient by software standards. Brad's project was to rewrite the current system using modern technology. Easy enough, just take the behemoth, figure out how it works and start slinging code. Triton-2 was considered to be the "best-of-breed" software in its class. This project was to simply update the technology, no creative work required. The company was so confident in the Triton-2 program that they called Brad's project Triton-3. Software companies as a rule aren't overly creative with their project names, but this was boring even by those standards."

Come on, we just got the results of the test back and haven't had a chance to figure out what the problems are. All we need is a couple of weeks with the data and we will know what is going on." Brad was annoyed at his pleading tone, but this hurt. He had never had a project yanked from him in the 11th hour. And never with thought that his project was poorly done. Doubt was starting to cloud his mind.

"It ain't gonna happen, this goes all the way up." Carp paused, as if he didn't want to continue. "Look, Brad, there's more. Once you check in your code, I am to escort you to the parking lot."

"Eff you Carp!" Brad was starting to lose it, his head was starting to throb. What had started out as a BS meeting had ended in slaughter. HIS slaughter.

"Cooperate and we won't have to get lawyers involved. We think there may be some irregularities on the project," Carp threatened.

Brad's head was really throbbing now, this was a fricking duck shoot and he was the duck. "You wouldn't, that's crazy!"

"Look Brad, make this easy, just check in your code. I will walk you out and you can say you quit."

It was hard to argue with him. He might be a clown but he was holding all of the cards. What a freaking surprise, this was a crap job anyway. Jack Carp accompanied Brad to his desk and watched over his shoulder as he checked in his remaining code. The good news was that since he was isolated from the other programmers, there was no one near his office that really had any idea what was happening. Brad wondered about the other members of his team. They weren't close friends or anything, but they also didn't deserve to be treated like this. In silence they walked to the door of the building where Brad handed over his security card and desk-key. Carp, in an unusual show of humanity, shoved his hand forward, offering it for a final shake. Looking at Carp's outstretched hand and up into his expectant face, Brad turned on his heel and stepped into the parking lot. Mostly to himself, but still audibly he simply said, "Ass Clown".

As he slipped into his car, Brad just shook his head trying to clear his thoughts, thinking, "that really was just a stupid effing job."

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