I’ve adapted a common saying from the poker world for my coder life: if you can’t spot the freak on the review project in fifteen minutes, it’s you.
Heck, usually, I only need one minute.
I was staffed on a project two weeks ago with a seemingly normal group of 12 people. I started to squirm. This can’t be right…there has to be one…and it can’t be me! It JUST CAN’T! About nine minutes in, I decided it was going to be the old guy or the beardy guy. They were totally the freaks. And then, I heard it. A voice. A super super annoying voice. “No, you have to fill out the time sheets with the pink back and hand them in.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. My suspicions were confirmed very soon after that. One woman started saying how she was glad to have gotten this job at my agency because her last agency made them “check in” their cellphones at cubby holes in the front at the beginning of the day and you could collect them at the end of the day. I was horrified.
However, annoying voice said “Oh, it’s not so bad. You can get it periodically during the day if you tell them ahead there might be an emergency.”
Annoying voice spent the rest of the day constantly chirping in her two cents in this manner. If the team lead said there wasn’t a quota, she would add “well, there might be one added later. That happened on a case I worked on before.”
If someone raised their hand to ask for help with the computers, she had to be all “well, you should try to hit F5. I was on a project once where my computer did that.”
OH. MY. GAWD. S.T.F.U.
As the review continued, I began to physically react whenever I heard her voice. Which sucked because she never stopped talking.
Thankfully, I had the volume dial on my ipod and the first season of Mad Men to save me. Plus, that project was mercifully brief. A week later, I was onto a whole nother gig where I could…
I heard it. Walking toward me. Talking to my boss. They were coming straight for the room. NOOOOOOOOO!!!!
Not only was she back. She was Team Lead now. Whatever. My blessed ipod would save me. And then my boss asked me to be second lead on the project. I had to pay attention. I had to listen. To her. That first day was fine, the power went to my head and helped alleviate my irritation.
The next day…well…
We had to have the morning check-in meeting with the boss. I was only second lead, so I mostly tuned out. I doodled and tapped my pen on my notepad. But my boss kept making an effort to “include” me.
“Summers, come around here and look at this.” He was showing me how to create searches in the system to look for key terms. “You probably shouldn’t have to do this because I’ve already created and saved all the ones you guys should need and Rebecca is lead and she knows, but just in case.”
I rolled my eyes in my mind. In case what? She’s assassinated? Please.
I smiled and nodded and worried about the upcoming Mets game.
The walk back was filled with more nonstop chatter than usual. Zen noise cancellation mode: Activate. I didn’t live with my mom for 25 years without learning a thing or two. But then I saw a look on her face and realized she had asked a question…
“Have you done this before?”
“Team lead? You know, all the emailing stuff? Tom is really mad at me because I didn’t attach the end of day report to my email last night. I thought I did, but it didn’t attach and now they’re all mad.”
“Nah, I haven’t done it before.”
She starts blathering on about all the stuff it entails, I tune out and head back to my desk. I’m on “Second level review” which basically means double checking all the stuff the coders are doing. As we reach the end, the better coders get moved to second level and the others are sent home. At around noon, people started saying they had reached the end. That was weird. This was supposed to last all weekend. It was only Friday.
Our boss was gone because of the Jewish holiday, so Rebecca decided to just move everyone over to second level. Including that shifty Asian guy I had my eye on. With so many people doing second level, we were done with the whole project by 6:30 Friday. Again. Weird.
The coders start grumbling.
“They told us we’d have four days. This is ridiculous.”
Rebecca tells them “well, sorry, you guys went too fast.” She laughs nervously and heads out to get some water.
This black guy comes to my desk “What is this, sistah? Is this for real? We just gon get two days?”
I shrug. “I guess.”
“That’s boolshit!” He slams his hand down on my desk.
Dude. I give him the side eye of life.
“I’m not leaving till 7:30.” He storms off.
He comes back twenty minutes later and sits at the computer staring at the monitor.
When Rebecca comes back, I tell her what he said and point him out.
“Well, I don’t know what to do.”
I give her the side eye of life.
Whatever. Not my problem.
I’m just vice president.
Around 8 o’clock, the phone rings. It’s our boss “checking in.”
Rebecca tells him the review is over and that she sent everyone home and told them not to come back.
All I hear is indistinct yelling from the other end. She is responding with monosyllables. I see her tapping frantically at keys.
Other coders start getting ready to leave, she signals for them to stop. I still hear yelling.
“No, okay. I’ll call you back.”
She’s visibly shaking.
“Was he mad that we finished so fast?” I asked as she placed the phone back in the cradle.
“We’re not done. There’s another 15,000 documents to review. I have to get everyone back. I don’t know what to do.”
“What happened? Why’d you think we were done?”
“Well, the coders said there weren’t anymore documents, so I just thought…” she trailed off.
“Well, what’s going to happen now?”
It was a Friday night. On Easter weekend.
“I don’t know. He said I had to make sure people would come back. I don’t know what to do. And he said we were really behind and…”
The tears started to fall.
“Okay, look. Six of us are still here, we can keep reviewing for a few more hours. Get Sam to email everyone, it should be fine, they were planning to work and couldn’t have changed their plans that quickly.”
“I don’t know what to do,” she repeated.
“CALL. SAM. We will keep reviewing.”
The remaining coders took off their coats and got back on the computers.
Rebecca finally made the call. Our boss called back. More yelling. I took the phone. Rebecca dashed out of the room.
I assured him we were totally still reviewing and would get people back on Saturday. He hung up on me.
The other coders and I, were working away when Rebecca finally came back.
“It’s all just so overwhelming. I’m so tired. With the baby and everything. I’ve never done this before. I’m just a good coder…Thank you so much for stepping in, Dawn. ” blah blah blah. Oh God. Is she…hugging me…make this stop. This must stop.
I was texting F-train through the fiasco and he writes back “You told her your name?! #fail”
Which makes me laugh out loud so hard…wholly breaking the tense silence in the room.
“Um…sorry…my friend sent me a youtube video.” *whistles*
We’re working away when she suddenly freaks out again because we hadn’t gotten permission to work past 9.
“I’m sure it’s fine.”
“No. I didn’t get permission. I’m already on thin ice. No, we should go.”
I shrug. Again. Vice President.
I get in really early on Saturday and I bring donuts for everyone because I am awesome.
People start filing in and I assign them batches as they sit down. Rebecca comes in 30 minutes later. She starts apologizing to each coder individually.
Vice President. Vice President. Vice President.
I continue coding away. She continues her parade of apologizing.
Two hours later our boss comes in. We give him an update. He still seems annoyed, but he’s not yelling anymore.
He says we need to email the associates “Bonnie and Claude” and let them know where we are.
I laugh “It’s like Bonnie and Clyde!” He smiles at me. Good lord, how can I be so adorable?
We go back to the room, Rebecca to send the email, me to code away. I’m super fast, so we actually are back on pace to be done on time.
Forty minutes later, our boss storms into the room and pulls Rebecca out. When she comes back, she’s shaking again and our boss says “Summers, I need to talk to you.”
I’m just Vice President! Why am I getting talked to!?
“She’s a fucking nightmare. She sent that email out to “Bonnie and Clyde”. I can’t take it anymore. I need you to step up.”
But. But… Vice President!
“I didn’t get any training…I…”
“It’s not rocket science. You send out emails and just make sure shit doesn’t completely go to hell.”
“Um…okay. I can not do rocket science, I guess.”
“Well, if you don’t set the place on fire, you can’t do worse.”
Aww shucks, can I get that in writing to mail to other perspective employers?
He pats me on the back and walks me back to the room.
Rebecca asks to talk to him again. He rolls his eyes and she follows him out.
She returns in tears.
I go to the afternoon meeting alone. When I get back, she shows me a list of names that she has handwritten.
“Since we can’t print anything out, I thought I’d write down the names of all the folders so we can keep track.”
Um. Instead of coding documents? Really? REEEAALLLLYYY?
“Ok…great…but you should probably keep coding…” Call me crazy.
But now she was completely shot. Every document she had to come over to me to check and see what I thought about what she thought. I wanted to eat my gun. The gun I do not have. Plus, I was trying to listen to the Rangers game AND do all this new non rocket science work. I had no more patience.
“DUDE. You need to stop…” don’t say spazzing, don’t say spazzing, don’t say spazzing…
God dammit, Dawn!
What? Leave me alone, our mommy didn’t hug us enough when we were little!
“I know, I know. I’m sorry. I just don’t want to mess up anymore.”
“Hey, how about you work on the searches.” Literally, all she had to do was click a hyperlink because our boss had already set it up for us.
Back to my game. I had already missed the first goal.
One minute later she comes back.
“I’m going to save the search and rename it something different just in case it gets messed up, then we don’t lose the original search.”
“Okay, fine, whatever.”
Read: GO THE FUCK AWAY.
Ten minutes later she’s back. Panic face is also back.
“I don’t know what happened. The search isn’t coming up anymore…it got corrupted somehow.”
“So use the original one.”
“Well, I thought I had saved as…but it didn’t save, so…I dunno…can you come look at it.”
She had somehow deleted the searches our boss created and now she was all “can you call him…”
“NO. You call him. Fix this and fix it now.” I can’t with this chick anymore.
“I will. Ok. I’m just so tired. I only slept four hours last night…”
O_O Who’s got two thumbs and doesn’t give a fuck? This guy!
She calls our boss, he calls me. He doesn’t sound mad…exactly. We get the searches fixed. It’s 8 pm, I haven’t gotten my “mandatory one hour break” yet, but I’m terrified to leave Calamity Jane alone. I ask her what she’s doing and she says “working through the searches. I have about 1000 left.”
Okay. She won’t fuck that up again… so I leave.
I get back, nothing bad has happened, we’re through second level reviewing, we are totally gonna finish on time.
Hmm…Jane has been awfully quiet.
“Still the searches, I have about 900 left.”
In three hours? DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDEEEE.
“Um… these have already been coded and double checked. You’re just supposed to be triple checking for glaring things. We don’t have time for you to be doing whatever it is you are doing.”
And I swear, if you cry again, I’m going to give you something to cry about.
I said that part quiet.
I start doing the searches myself. I plot satisfying ways to kill her and dispose of the remains.
At 11:30 everything is done. But she is still the technical team lead, so I need her to tell me what we need to do to finish up.
“Um..well, what they told me…because I actually never…”
“Focus. Are there evaluation forms to fill out? What about the time sheets? Are there emails you need to send?”
“Oh yeah, we have to send them evaluations on all the coders.”
“Okay. Let’s do that.”
The sheet is one page long and has numbers 1-10. Basically, I hate everyone except Beatrice, so I’m all about giving them all ones. But she says that they told her the lowest you should really give is 7, so I’m just running through the form and this chick is all “well, how about an 8 and a half and maybe we should write comments explaining that because I thought she improved throughout the…”
“It’s almost midnight. I would like to go home. Aren’t you tired?”
Suddenly she’s all about thoroughness? Is that a word? If not, I call dibs!
We finalize everything and all I leave for her to do is submit all the coders’ timesheets.
I saw her this morning and she says “I did most of the timesheets, but Beatrice signed in at 9:15, but she put 9:00 on her online form, so I rejected it.”
Dude. Beatrice was our very very very best BY A MILE AND A HALF CODER! She volunteered to stay way after everyone else had left on BOTH nights and this douchnozzle rejects her timesheet over fifteen minutes? I was sooo livid!
Sadly, there’s nothing I could do.
And that’s my awesome story of the day!