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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Walking out and reclaiming my freedom

[ This is part four of four. You might want to start at part one. ]

Monday had ended on a positive note. Someone a few hops up the org chart had listened and agreed with me that things were sick and that I would be the cure. Tuesday afternoon, things returned to normal, and by normal I mean horribly bad.

I received a message via IM: can you chat again? Of course, I said, and ran over, excited to hear what would happen next. It was given to me thusly: there is a fundamental cultural problem with that team. They don't "get" testing. No amount of software project work will fix that. Okay, I said, so I've operated in a mode where you build something good, show why it makes a difference, then use that to bring people on board. I will simply repeat that pattern here.

Nope, that wouldn't work. They'd need to hear it from someone they couldn't "escalate past", and that meant the big boss, only he was busy. Of course he's busy. Everyone is always busy. This means nothing can happen for a long time. Then we got to talking about other things, and I didn't realize just what had happened at first, but it started sinking in.

I left work that afternoon in a fog. Just what had happened? Had they really pushed the reset button and returned things to where they were on Friday afternoon? They did. The sickness had spread high enough to where these teams which aren't delivering have the ear of those in charge, and there's no way to get around that. It's like reporting an infestation of zombies in your classroom to the superintendent of schools and finding out he's a zombie, too. Welcome to screwed, population you. I posted an internal buzz, roughly ":-/". For those of you who may have noticed it, now you know why.

As I walked around a nearby shopping center, chocolate ice cream in hand, I noticed people going around doing their thing in the warm afternoon sun. I thought, if I quit, all of this will be mine again. I can set my own schedule and work on my own projects and subtract all of these bozos from my equation. They'll still be making life miserable for each other but they will no longer be able to touch me.

Wednesday morning, I went back in. I knew at some fundamental level that it was not going to be a normal day. I didn't grab my usual drink on the way in through the micro kitchen, and I didn't even lock my purse up as usual. It just sat there on my desk next to my keyboard, with my usual drink conspicuously absent. Nobody noticed, nobody cared. I tried to raise this big boss person on IM. Nothing. I tried to grab my own manager on IM. He was off doing who knows what.

Then this other guy who had been trying to woo me to come over and be his lackey for this other project started shooting messages at me. His tack was "what? nothing happens quickly, stop being wishy-washy". I figured, okay, that was enough. I don't need any more of this.

I had established that it was okay to drop my badge off with our local admin assistant a few days before. It seemed simple enough: park my laptop's combination lock code in a shared repository, power off my machines, drop my badge with said admin, and walk out.

Wednesday, May 18th, that's exactly what I did. I dashed off a quick mail to HR and a few other folks above me in the org chart, dropped off that badge, shot down the stairs and disappeared out the door for the last time.

I tried to fix things. I failed. I deem it an unfixable situation. You may not be part of the solution, but you don't have to be part of the problem, either. By quitting, I stopped being part of the problem. Now I'm working on being part of the solution.

Who's next?