Interview with the Vampirefodder

I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been trying to interview people in my department as a way to boost morale. I’ve done 11 interviews so far, and have a couple more lined up. I don’t think I’m a particularly outgoing person, and I am not a huge fan of talking to people that I don’t know, but I’ve found the whole experience enjoyable so far.

At first, I had a set list of questions that I was asking everyone, which is probably why my first interview was a disaster, but after a few interviews, I learned from my mistake, and rather than trying to force answers to those questions, I tried to let the conversation evolve naturally. I found out that one of my co-workers used to be an actor back in his home country, and another used to be involved in street fighting. One came to Australia as a refugee, and another plays in a band.

I’ve been publishing the interviews on our team wiki, and the intention was for our department head to send out some links to them in his monthly newsletter. Well, I think his monthly newsletter is no longer a thing, so I think only a couple of people have been reading them. Oh well, not a big deal.

I have been trying to use my newfound knowledge for the forces of good though. One person told me that he had a race coming up, and that he really likes puppies. He works in a different city to me, so I asked a co-worker I know from that office to print a picture of a puppy with the words, “Good luck for your race this weekend!” and put it on his desk. He told me (after my co-worker dobbed me in) that it made him smile, and he thinks it’s what helped him win that weekend – which I don’t think is true, but was nice of him to say.

I’ve been trying to treat it as a “For me it was Tuesday” thing, but in a positive way, not a “I killed your dad” way. If I can do something in a few minutes, that would cheer someone up for a whole day, then why not do it?

My entire motivation for doing these interviews is because there are so many people in my department, but most people only talk to others in their team. It’s not just that there are a ton of fascinating people in the team, but there are some problems that are being encountered in multiple teams, and rather than learning from the mistakes one team has made, each team will try their own solutions, and often make the same mistakes themselves.

In the project I’m currently working on, I’ve been putting together a solution design document, and I had it reviewed by developers from two of the other teams. In a one hour discussion, we managed to simply the solution so much that rather than the two releases that were planned, I believe we can achieve all of the goals w are trying to solve with one solution. The developers on my team would never have thought of that alone as we’re too close to the current system.

That all sounds good in theory, and I’ve explained my motivations to everyone who has asked, and yet I’ve found that some people are saying that the only reason I’m doing this is to suck up to the department manager. I guess the fact that I’ve also become the unofficial head of the floor’s social committee and in charge of the Friday afternoon food and drinks doesn’t help that impression. And that I’m the reason we can’t have alcohol on the floor (because I made the mistake of actually checking with the legal team whether we were allowed to, and was told no, instead of just doing it anyway and pretending I didn’t know any better).

I know it’s silly, but it makes me so dejected, because I feel like I just wanted to do something nice, and people are questioning my motives or complaining that it’s not good enough. To add to that, we just found out that we’re merging with another team (in the same department) and their boss is going to be our boss. I have not heard good things, but I should at least keep an open mind and judge for myself rather than rely on hearsay. Then I found out the actual social committee was being cut, and I feel like that’s just going to add extra pressure to the unofficial social committee I’m on (which really only started because a few people wanted to make cheesecake!).

Sorry for going on a rant. I’ve kinda lost interest in the social committee stuff, but I am still interested in the interviews, so I will continue with that. I’m also just going to continue with the things I actually enjoy doing, rather than trying to do what I think will make others happy. I got the idea of doing some experiments in the office, so that’s my new goal. The results of my first experiment should be ready tomorrow!

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