Next Step?

At the last 440 dinner, I confessed my grand plan for quitting my team. I figured after the effort I put into making that James Bond parody movie for the dev who left (who I will now nickname Sean), I feel like there is a lot of pressure on me to make my own farewell quite memorable. Especially as a lot of the farewell speeches since then have had some variation of, “Well, I didn’t make you a movie, but here are some kind words about you.” I haven’t really been motivated to write another movie, and my trial subscription for Adobe Premiere has run out, so I thought maybe I’d write a parody song instead. I’ve been playing around with the Faith Hill song “Breathe (YouTube link)”, and have a fair chunk of it written. The only problem is that I don’t sing. Or play the guitar like Santana (YouTube link).

So I told the other 440ers that I needed to learn to sing and play the guitar before quitting my team. Uni Paul replied, “Aren’t you just creating more obstacles for yourself to avoid quitting?”

There’s a little game going on between me and Michael in the office at the moment. I told him that I’ve always wanted to be a detective. Unrelated to that, he started behaving differently in the office, and when I asked him about it, he said that I should use my detective skills to find out. So over a couple of weeks, I would make guesses and he would give me new clues. I felt like I wasn’t really making any progress, and I figured a detective would interview witnesses, so I thought maybe I should do the same. So I asked one of Michael’s co-workers if they knew what was behind the change in behaviour, and he told me he had also asked Michael, and gave the response that Michael told him (which I later found out to be incorrect, so I’m back to square one point five).

During that conversation, he said to me that he believes that Michael is bored at work, and is far too smart to be working where he is. I took a look at his LinkedIn profile, and it’s pretty damn impressive. I was also tempted to stalk his Github contribution activity, but I asked Grad Daniel, and he said that’s borderline stalker behaviour, so I thought that wouldn’t be a good idea.

As I was sitting there trying to think of ways to confirm what I’d just been told, it hit me. All the bake-offs, my random food generator behaviour, the little games / things I do around the office. Am I also bored? To be honest, the thing that I am working on now is making me incredibly miserable. I dread going in to work as it is what I have to look forward to. I spent 3 days writing unit tests for it, and got most of them passing yesterday, however, there are a couple that won’t pass because I uncovered a bug in the API. One of many that I’ve encountered so far, and it’s just so disheartening. I’ve resolved myself to just putting my head down, ignoring all distractions and getting it done, so that I can move on to something else, but I’m starting to see that the distractions are what has been keeping me sane over the past couple of weeks, and I don’t know how long I can continue this.

Which brings me to the bombshell: Sean is back. He has joined another team in the same company, a couple of floors away, but he came down and visited my team on Tuesday, which was nice. Unfortunately, I had my head down trying to finish this piece of work, so I didn’t really say much to him other than, “Welcome back”. I was away on training today, but last night, a teammate sent me an SMS saying that we had a compliance module due today, and I didn’t remember doing it, so I went into the office before training to get it done (turns out past me had done it back in May). As I was there, I saw an email from Sean saying, “Sorry we didn’t get to chat the other day, how about we meet for coffee when you’re back?”

Sean’s current boss is my former boss, and I heard from Albert that they’re looking to hire developers. A part of me is super excited. I would love to work with Sean again, as every day had some surprise in store, and I learned so much from him. He’s the kind of developer who is genuinely enthusiastic about what he does, and his energy is so contagious that I couldn’t help being enthusiastic about improving my own skills when he was around.

Another part of me feels like maybe I’ve outgrown him. I’ll admit that I struggled when he was gone. Like someone who is learning to walk unassisted after relying on crutches for so long, I kept walking over to his desk, only to remember that he wasn’t there anymore. But over time, I learned to cope. It started out with a simple, WWSD? – What Would Sean Do? I had so many imaginary conversations with Sean when puzzling out ideas, which was a really helpful method for trying to think about potential design flaws. I’m pretty sure the people on my team were sick of hearing, “If Sean was still here, he’d say ________”.

I haven’t replied to Sean’s email yet, of course I’m going to catch up with him, but I kinda don’t know what we’d talk about, and if he wants to talk to me about leaving my team, I want to prepare myself. My old boss knows how much I admire Sean. In fact, as soon as I heard the news that he was returning, the first thing I did was message my old boss to confirm whether it was true or not.

As a side note, I didn’t want to leave another unsolved case up in the air, so I simply asked Michael why someone as talented as him would stay. He replied that he and his wife had just had a child. If he didn’t need a reliable form of income, he’d probably have left already. Not really an issue for me at the moment. I told him that I feared tricking someone into hiring me, only to find out I didn’t have the required skills, and letting my new team down. At least I know that I’m capable of doing my current job. I occasionally see Michael in the kitchen reading things like Taoist monk scriptures or The Three Musketeers, so when he said to me he was going to give me some advice from a wise man, I was expecting a koan or something like that.

Instead, he said, “If you only do what you can do, you’ll never be better than what you are.” I was pondering those words when he added, “As said by Master Shifu, from Kung Fu Panda 3.” I burst out laughing, and the thoughtful moment was gone. I guess I probably should reflect on it though, and decide if I really am ready to move on.

On the plus side, I realised that someone I did my mentor training with is in a band, and he said he’d be happy to play the guitar for me, so all I need to do now is learn to sing…

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