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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Am I a shrill bitch, or are you just lazy?

Want to make people hate you? Make them go back to work.

Back in my pager monkey days, there came a point where I was effectively keeping a copy of the global state of my service in my head. In short, if something was happening with my service somewhere in the world, you could ask me and I knew about it. "What's going on with your cell in that distant country?", someone might ask. I'd be able to say "oh, they're replacing the servers and we had to move out temporarily". Now repeat this for all of the moving parts, including those which were only planned and those which had already happened.

This was expected behavior for a project lead. Now, I wasn't the project lead, but I wanted to be given that distinction, so I followed someone's advice of "do the job you want and you'll get it". As part of this overall push to officially become the lead for that project, I started running the Monday morning production meetings. This was a weekly thing where all of the pager monkeys and developers would sync up. We'd make sure everyone was on the same page, ask for help with things if necessary, and then go off to do our work.

These meetings historically had a way of taking exactly the time allotted -- one hour -- and sometimes we'd run over and would get kicked out of the room by someone else. I wanted to change that.

One of the changes I made one morning happened in the days when the developers had someone in some distant office who was (supposedly) doing load testing for them. Due to the time zone difference, they didn't get a chance to talk that often.

Anyway, for some reason, they put a block of time where they sync up with this far-away guy smack in the middle of the meeting. As soon as I was running it, I noticed that it was just the devs talking to this guy, and the pager monkeys (myself and my immediate coworkers) were just sitting there poking at our laptops. This was pointless.

I decided to interrupt this little fun-fest and asked if there was anything in this particular part which involved the pager people. They said no, and so I said that this was best left to the end, when we could exit and they could continue without us.

They went with it, but they weren't happy. I never really thought about why this would be the case until recently.

I mean, yes, there's the whole image of me being the shrill bitch who just keeps cracking the whip and moving people along. But still, that kind of perception has to come from somewhere. I wasn't being shrill and I wasn't being condescending or insulting. I was just determined to arrange things such that we could minimize the amount of wasted time, including my own.

It now occurs to me that those who would label me as bitchy or similar (yes, someone actually used the world "prickly" in a peer review of me, and no, I'll never forget it) came to that conclusion because they'd rather sit there eating breakfast while looking at reddit. After all, if they were stuck in a meeting and had no reason to participate, they could zone out. Back up in our shared office, it wasn't so easy.

Obviously I can't be sure of this, but it sounds plausible to me.