Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Reality Check

Last February a good friend and co-worker drove me to the emergency room. In a few short minutes I was hooked up to an EKG and having my insides blasted by x-rays. I laid in the hospital room for several hours with no TVs, no computers and no distractions. It allowed me to think.

How did I wind up here? What in my life caused this to happen? Will I make it out alive? Does anybody care? The questions went on and on.

Fortunately, it wasn't a heart attack, but something the doctors call "Microsoft Syndrome". They say they see a lot of patients from the Mother Ship with the same symptoms. They basically told me it was brought on by stress.

When I got out of the ER, instead of going home, I went back to the office. I question that decision to this day. A few co-workers asked if I was okay. Some others didn't say anything. The reaction of my grand-manager (the manager of my manager) was the most telling of all:

"So 'the dog ate your homework' wasn't enough of an excuse to get you out of fixing bugs?"

That's all he said, and that said it all.

I knew he didn't like me. I knew it three days after I was re-orged under him. But he demonstrated a lack of ability to show compassion for another human. He had his favorites, and everybody knew who they were. I was not one of them. It wouldn't have been an issue for me except I had to slave for this guy. And I did for almost three years.

That day was life changing for me. I learned what a heart attack felt like; that my ticker was still in good condition; who my friends were; that working for a person I didn't like, on a product I didn't care for, in a group I couldn't transfer out of was darn near killing me.

Fast forward a year and I'm in a different group and in a different role. I enjoy working with my peers and for my managers. They're smart and they have a great perspective on life. They have their priorties in order.

I know that some of my readers struggle with similar stresses that I went through in my aforementioned organization. For those of you in a similar situation, I offer these final thoughts for you.

Will the late nights and time away from your family and friends be worth it when you're dead? Are you willing to die for the software you write? Will anyone care if you did?