Special Skills: Corporate Ankle-Biter

Of my years as a code whore for miscellaneous software joints, I really haven’t kept much at all…

Except, that is, a bottomless contempt and seething hatred toward all that ressemble corporations or corporate culture in all its incarnations. I really hated corporate life. And to be fair, the feeling was shared: most of my bosses hated my guts, more or less silently, and the ones that didn’t, usually shared my hatred of higher ranked execs. HR zombies probably spent entire afternoons mentally rehashing every details of my pink slips, PR bunnies’ smiles would freeze to a near-breaking point whenever their bullshitting activities required any sort of interaction or input from my person.

Never, though, was I ever mean to workmates or people reporting under me: they usually didn’t mind my behaviour in the slightest, enjoyed the show and placed bets, if anything… But anybody with a vested interest in keeping the corporate status quo certainly lost many layers of enamel to teeth-gritting, during my stint in some of these companies…

Nothing too crazy, mind you: no Office Space-style rebellion or anything approaching. Just an overall inability to put up with everyday-life incompetent assholes, whose every breathing minutes is spent looking for ways to cover their ass while doing as little as possible, as well as way too much cynicism for my own good, when it came to reading through upper-management decisions…

They certainly didn’t put up with my annoying presence in some vain hope that I would one day see the light, and stop snickering whenever the CEO gleefully announced that salary raises would be replaced by stock options (by the late 90’s, the snicker had pretty much turned to an inextinguishable cough, but by then, most other employees weren’t wearing their vapid smiles at that kind of news any more either)… The only reason they tolerated such an insufferable prick in their shoe was that they had no choice: when it came down to debug crap at 3 in the morning, or fix a project in time for the impossible deadline sold by some moronic marketoid eager to make his commission – and ready for that to sell Manhattan island to his client with a blowjob by the summer intern thrown in as a gift… when it came down to actually turn a tiny portion of whatever vaporware all these companies were built upon into somewhat concrete products: they found it quite useful to have at least one guy with vague notions of software development. The kind that is done with a computer and real physical electrons, not a whiteboard and lots of cool buzzwords…

Fear not though: for as soon as things got rough for whatever silicon speculator employed me at the time, I was among the first ones to be sent for an extended vacation to Mexico with 2 weeks severance pay and more fake contrived smiles than the day the family buried my aunt Suzie (the one who kept feeding arsenic-laced brownies to her nieces and nephews in hope of reducing the inheritance pool).

If you are now mentally picturing some sort of personal drama resulting in the crushing of my spirits as a young and upcoming computer genius, you seriously need to read the previous paragraphs one more time: the second I realized I no longer had to see most of these asshats faces (the ones I was any likely to miss had already been let go or where following me closely anyway) and that, to top it all, I was given enough to live 6 extra months in whatever tiny Baja California fisherman’s village I was heading to: ecstatic and rapturous are but two of the lighter terms that could be used to convey my emotion on that particular moment.

Need I precise: when faced between a choice of laying off one of the only remaining engineer’s ass (mine, for instance), firing one of the fifty incompetent snake-oil salesmen sharing the floor or even, god forbid, slashing their own indecent salary, the Powers That Be weren’t exactly torn apart by indecision. But whatever minuscule blow to my ego was incurred by this, certainly didn’t last more than the two months it took them to realize that the company that bought their asse(t)s off, really didn’t give two craps about pretty PowerPoint presentations, and was more interested in stupid things like code that worked, and the code-monkey who had written it…

Code monkey, who, incidentally, was thoroughly enjoying Latin America with no plan to come back any time soon, as he happily informed them over the phone. And funnily enough, while I was the one sitting at the beach on that day, I could swear I was hearing heavy drops of sweats, on their side of the line, crashing loudly on the formica conference table.

While I have never looked back to these days, I have worked (exclusively as a contractor) for many other companies ever since, some of them no better in terms of soulless corporatism, and I have learnt to save myself many fruitless troubles by simply keeping my mouth shut, closing my eyes wide open and giving an empty smile, whenever confronted with unspeakable stupidity. With mitigated success so far.

You may be wondering, why this sudden recollection of low-grade Herbert Kornfeld antics?

Well, my point was simply to establish, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I am a royal pain in the ass, with an uncanny ability to go at the slightest itch with a jackhammer and some nitric acid, just to make sure it doesn’t remain unscratched…

And you probably should keep this in mind when reading the next post

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