We all dread the day we end up getting dragged, kicking and screaming, out of our core competencies and forced to be a manager. This is one of those stories. — Remy
She'd resisted the call for years. As a senior developer, Makoto knew how the story ended: one day, she'd be drafted into the ranks of the manager, forswearing her true love webdev. She knew she'd eventually succumb, but she'd expected to hold out for a few years before she had to decide if she were willing to change jobs to avoid management.
But when her boss was sacked unexpectedly, mere weeks after the most senior dev quit, she looked around and realized she was holding the short straw. She was the most senior. Even if she didn't put in for the job, she'd be drafted into acting as manager while they filled the position.
This is the story of her first day on the job.
Makoto spent the weekend pulling together a document for their external contractors, who'd been plaguing the old boss with questions night and day— in Spanish, no less. Makoto made sure to document as clearly as she could, but the docs had to be in English; she'd taken Japanese in high school for an easy A. She sent it over first thing Monday morning, hoping to have bought herself a couple of days to wrap up her own projects before the deluge began in earnest.
It seemed at first to be working, but perhaps it just took time for them to translate the change announcement for the team. Just before noon, she received an instant message.
Well, I can just point them to the right page and go to lunch anyway, she thought, bracing herself.
Emilio: I am having error in application.
Makoto: What error are you having?
A minute passed, then another. She was tempted to go to lunch, but the message client kept taunting her, assuring her that Emilio was typing. Surely his question was just long and complicated. She should give him the benefit of the doubt, right?
Emilio: error i am having is: File path is too long
Makoto winced. Oh, that bug … She'd been trying to get rid of the dependencies with the long path names for ages, but for the moment, you had to install at the root of C in order to avoid hitting the Windows character limits.
But I documented that. In bold. In three places!
Makoto: Did you clone the repository to a folder in the root of a drive? As noted in the documentation there are paths contained within that will exceed the windows maximum path length otherwise
Emilio: No i cloned it to
C:Program FilesIntelligent Communications IncClientsAnonymized Company NamePadding for length
Makoto's head hit the desk. She didn't even look up as her fingers flew across the keys. I'll bet he didn't turn on nuget package restore, she thought, or configure IIS correctly.
Makoto: please clone the repository as indicated in the provided documentation, Additionally take careful note of the documented steps required to build the Visual Studio Solution for the first time, as the solution will not build successfully otherwise
Whatever that means. Makoto sighed. Whatever, I'm out, lunchtime.
Two hours later she was back at her desk, belly full, working away happily at her next feature, when the message bar blinked again.
Emilio: I am having error building application.
Makoto: Have you followed the documentation provided to you? Have you made sure to follow the "first time build" section?
Makoto: And has that resolved your issue?
Emilio: Yes. I am having error building application
Makoto: And what error are you having?
Emilio: Yes. I am having error building application.
"Oh piss off," she said aloud, safe in the knowledge that he was located thousands of miles from her office and thus could not hear her.
"That bad?" asked her next-door neighbor, Mike, with a sympathetic smile.
"He'll figure it out, or he won't," she replied grimly. "I can't hold his hand through every little step. When he figures out his question, I'll be happy to answer him."
And, a few minutes later, it seemed he did figure it out:
Emilio: I am having error with namespaces relating to the nuget package. I have not yet performed nuget package restore
The sound of repeated thumps sent Mike scurrying back across the little hallway into Makoto's cube. He took one look at her screen, winced, and went to inform the rest of the team that they'd be taking Makoto out for a beer later to "celebrate her first day as acting manager." That cheered her enough to answer, at least.
Makoto: Please perform the steps indicated in the documentation for first time builds of the solution in order to resolve your error building the application.
Emilio: i will attempt this fix.
Ten minutes passed: just long enough for her to get back to work, but not so long she'd gotten back into flow before her IM lit up again.
Emilio: I am no longer having error build application.
"Halle-frickin-lujah", she muttered, closing the chat window and promptly resolving to forget all about Emilio … for now.
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