So I finally resigned from my contracting gig at the manufacturing behemoth . It was a tremendous relief for me. People who hardly ever perused the current code base insisted on code stratagems and design patterns that could not make any sense to folks who had developed the code or spent lot of time trying to understand and make it work but that is any industry , I suppose which is why the grunts can never understand what the managers are blabbing about and the managers find the grunt too dumb to implement what the managers want .
If you ever wish to see a modern day tower of babel , go to a software shop and watch the manager from higher echelons talking to the developers .
But today , we will only talk about the so called exit interview process . We will call the protagonists B(Business minded) and T(Technology minded) to protect the guilty. I announced the decision to B who was very laid back and said is there anything that he could do to make me stay , I laid out a series of well thought out arguments where I pointed that it would be best if I did leave, both for the company and me . I am not motivated in my current position . I did not move to California just to be a wage slave . There are tools and techniques that I need to learn to make my start up dream come true . Writing programs to control robots and conveyors was not going to do that for me, it was fun early on to learn something new . But today most of it is common place and fairly uninteresting and tedious. Worse I get bored easily , probably a character flaw but one that I have not been able to quell with sheer will power and I have actually found out using willpower in this case is detrimental to my long term growth and attitude . He silently listened and trying to make some weak arguments that I was mistaken but I knew that I had convinced him or perhaps he had always known and was happy that I was leaving . I found out later that perhaps he was not really happy because he did try to impress upon me that he would be willing to match whatever I was making . In the past two years , I had the money talk with him several times and it was consistently made clear to me that Apple was paying below market rates for me because I was a green horn with respect to automation on the west coast. I never bought into his spiel because my boss at Apple never tired of reminding us that all US Apple contractors were paid the same standard rates. I tried to call up T but he was busy with a client.
The next morning T shows up at the office , cheerful and immediately lays into me “Dude , you ruined my evening . I could not sleep at night” . I listened to him smiling and thinking that relationships have done that to me , not jobs!!!! He is a seasoned veteran and he is giving me the soft soap. I am not going to call him on it, this was fun . He lays his laptop down and looks around the lab . “Nobody here huh” . I responded in the affirmative . “Well let us go get some coffee ” , a disagreeable thought but I quietly acquiesced. He has come today in his Mercedes GLE SUV. He usually drives his glorified electric golf cart that we all know as the Nissan Leaf. I was silently wondering if this is another ploy , hint at the amount of money that he is making and perhaps if I changed my mind, I would get a piece of the pie. While we are driving he proceeds to informs me about the new venture that he is getting into; IOT or internet of things . Internet of Things is essentially a scheme where your fridge will order your milk if it is low and many many other such conveniences , in 1999 I was smitten with the idea and Sun Microsystems had released a version of its famed Java language for network devices called Jini , a word play on the word genie . But lately it has become nondescript with our cell phones and the gadgets that Amazon and Google and Apple are releasing but it is a huge untapped market so he is trying to convince me that this latest shiny bauble that he is working on, will indeed be the philosopher’s stone and he will offer me all kinds of options so I could be on easy street once the dust settles by early 2020. “So just give me 6 more months ,after all this is Silicon Valley and jobs are dime a dozen , six more months is not going to change anything” , he is still at his persuasive best. “I have no idea what i want to create but whatever idea that I get , I will seek venture capital funding right away.”, he ends with a triumphant flourish. I silently listen wondering if he has drunk too much of his own Kool aid, he does not have a product in mind but he already has dreams of getting VC funding, I have been in the valley for less than 2 years and I have a very good idea of how hard it is to get funding from VCs . He has also assured me that he will match whatever I am making at my new gig. Just a few months back when I had asked him to bump up my pay packet , he had responded with the statement that my package was very competitive and there was no way that he was going to bump it up but suddenly a competitor snatching me up seems to have awoken his sense of fair play and justice. He also proceeds to tell me that he had talked to one of the head honchos at Apple and they had finally agreed after months of patient negotiation to pay the same rate for me and he was planning to bump up my pay packet anyway at the end of the year but he is perfectly willing to do so right now . He then proceeds to make a philosophical comment about how all deals are done between men , I thought it sounded a bit sexist and started wondering where this was going when he immediately goes on to implicate himself by launching into a lengthy discussion that when he says men, he meant human kind and he has always thought that men and women are equal and his first partner was a woman . There are some folks who have told me that I am easy to read and there are some that have told me that I am impossible to read . The former include my ex wife who could not really read me and the latter includes my sister who also cannot read me but he had somehow picked up on the fact that I had zeroed in on his “men” comment and found it distasteful. I was watching something very interesting ,the tendency of people to pretend they were something that they were not because the truth is either not fashionable or it is distasteful to them. In any case , I let him ramble and my mind wandered away
The roads are crowded as usual , I idly wondered if there was any time of the day where this road had no traffic . I have been there as early as 6 AM and as late as 1 AM , lot of operations and engineering folks burning the candle at both ends . We arrive at the Starbucks and he proceeds to park in a compact parking spot and takes up two spaces because he cannot park like a normal competent driver . I asked him if he wanted to straighten it so that somebody else can park in the second spot , he shrugs and walks away. He buys himself a low fat latte and I get myself a black coffee and we perch ourselves and I cannot help but observe our body language , he has already intruded into my space with his hands folded and his coffee cup on my side of the table and he is doing his damnedest to convince me. A used car salesman!!! that is what this ploy reminds me of. I have already leaned back and slightly tilted my body away from him . So he proceeds to lay out my career path for me , I just need to stick it out for a few more months at Apple and then once he has his flash in the pan idea , I can jump in and use my new fangled internet skills . These are the same skills that I have been trying to get them to adopt for a little while. I listen to him silently . He then proceeds to dangle another carrot in front of me . This one is truly mind blowing . I was speechless and dumbfounded . I could not have been more dumb founded if somebody had told me that I had grown an extra pair of eyes . Then he proceeds slowly to unveil his golden proposal to help me work on the technologies that I had previously mentioned to be of interest to me . “All you need to do is work your 8 hours at Apple, after that you can work on these internet technologies , let me see who dares to tell you otherwise” , he spluttered . I gazed at him in wonder , is he actually listening to himself talk.
He then proceeds “You know , I know you , I know your strengths , I know exactly what roles are suitable for you . I am really puzzled as to why an E-commerce company would want you ” . This is a guy who has never worked outside a very limited window of Automation , never written a device driver , would not know how to craft the simplest of web pages , develop an IOS app or create a database . He tends to be very contemptuous of all of the above because he perceives it as the fiefdom of minds far inferior to his own. Now suddenly he understands web technologies and professes to know what is best for me . Overnight he is my new best friend and knows me better than myself.
I just smile and then he proceeds with more soft soap . “When I come in the morning and see your smiling face , I know that we are golden . The fort is secure “. This one turned out to be a bit of a puzzler for me , I am still puzzling over it as I write this . I am certainly no gladiator , just a mere software engineer working in a lab . What fort is he referring to?
I quietly decline again and tell him that I am seriously burnt out with automation related software and the ongoing personality issues that I have been dealing with for the past two years . He again proceeds to interrupt me ,”That is normal, you are always going to find somebody that you do not like or cannot get along with. Just tell me what is it that I can change so you will stay”.
I again proceeded to inform him that this is something that I do need to clear my mind , I need a new field and a drastic change. I have no desire to continue but I would definitely like to maintain relations . Now it is my turn for the soft soap . “You have given me a tremendous opportunity to learn and grow , both personally and professionally. Not just the technical aspects but the people aspects as well and I will always be grateful for that”.
If that alleviated his agony , I could not tell . He stared at me quietly and then said “Well I guess if you are not going to change your mind, then I guess we better head back to the office”
I gratefully agreed and he dropped me off at the office and wished me a good trip to China which I had agreed to do .
I turned around and walked towards the office in relief , wondering if I should turn around and see if he was still watching me . There is an old superstition among Hindus ;after death we cremate our dead on a funeral pyre, after the pyre is lit and burning, the relatives should walk away without turning around and looking back at the pyre . I felt as though I was walking away from a funeral pyre; of this job; of his hopes; perhaps it is best if I did not turn around and give hope a chance to rear its head in his bosom.