Friday, 5 August 2011

The End of the World as We Know It

I wasn't concerned about finding a new job after I was done with Fjord Systems. Chucky had been hassling me for a resume; they needed someone like me at his new gig. Two of Fjord Systems' rivals had also approached me. I was pretty sure I could find work without any trouble, and I had my entire three month notice period to do it in.

About two weeks later, a Global Financial Crisis was declared and suddenly all of those opportunities went away. But it was October, and I was tired, and I still wanted to see the product out the door.

First thing I did was tell the team that I was no longer available after hours, and I was not working any more overtime. The immediate ramifications of this were that I was not going to conference into development meetings and I would not be returning to Sweden for the company 'conference'. The conference was a marketing gimmick; a holiday party that would last a week and would see customers from all over the globe descend on the offices in Sweden. I also knew, from the previous year, that almost nobody would be doing any work whatsoever for the entire month of December and half of January. I that wanted to leave quietly.

My work was pretty much done. Chucky had finished the drivers before he left, and I had finished integrating them when I gave my notice. Mostly my job consisted of writing unit tests and fixing bugs that arose because Anders starting messing around with the drivers. His changes were minor and really served only to break the interface or the unit tests. I suspect that this was a way of taking credit for Chucky's work by putting somebody else's name all over the version control system, but I stopped caring. Chucky had agreed to do any urgent maintenance that was needed in his drivers for six months  after his resignation (he did not give the required three months' notice), but there weren't any issues beyond the new ones Anders introduced, and then demanded that I fix in the interface. I complained the first time, but after that I gave up. They were minor changes. Many of the changes simply showed that the team had not understood the design as I had laid it out for them, but the software still worked well enough... it just meant that many of the features I had written sat dormant.

About a month later Martin sent me an email saying that he wanted to talk to me. He said he'd been trying to call me on my office line, but I never answered. I had been turning the phone off after 6pm, and there was no voicemail set up. I had said in my letter of resignation that I would no longer be available after hours. It took Martin six weeks before he thought to email me.

We arranged a time and I got on the phone with him, but I found that I wasn't really listening to whatever it was he was filling my ear with. I sat there remembering him making fun of my friends behind their backs, and I wondered what he'd said about me. I told him that I was tired of the work. I told him that I'd already done this same project when I had worked at ATB Software, and that the team's refusal to honour their promises meant that this product would not be as good as the one I had worked on two years prior. Even if it had been, it wasn't the work I had signed up to do. That work had departed when Jacob had been let go.

The product was released in January. It was substantially better than the prior version, since the new design, even compromised as it was, was at least cleanly-written and fairly efficient. The drivers worked and integrated into the software seamlessly. Despite my reservations, the UI team produced a very nice
new front end for the application from scratch and the product looked quite polished. Certainly, it presented a much shinier facade than the product I had built at ATB Software...

But it just wasn't as good. My product for ATB still rated in the top three of its kind when it came to performance and efficacy, and the new product from Fjord Systems stayed well below it.

But that wasn't my problem. I had quit my job at the middle of the biggest economic downturn in decades, and I was feeling fine.

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