Story Time: the re-write

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

The Setup

As a recent college grad after the dot-com boom and bust the notion of “being from California” evoked mystery, as if what was about to happen would be a story I would tell constantly. I certainly haven’t told it more than half a dozen times. But one of those managers would end up being the best boss I have ever had, still to this day. We will call him Bob (obviously not his name).

An Invitation

Soon after both my friend and I were invited to join Bob’s re-write team. With that, I got a hefty raise that made me very happy. There were enough of us at this point that we commandeered a conference room and put all of us in there. Once we were all in, we’d lock the door. No one could bother us. With all the headphones I bet we couldn’t even hear anyone knock on the door.

What About Everyone Else?

I remember at one point Bob standing up at a company all hands to explain our project. He put himself on the line for us. I don’t remember what was said, but I remember being impressed and defended. He was our line of defense, both in terms of shielding us from interference and giving us the credibility and buy-in to do what we were there to do.


The following Monday we were informed that Bob had been fired. The CEO did not inform us, a member of our own team did. And now that person was technically in charge. Now is where a lawyer would object and call this hearsay. But all I can do is recount what was told to us. Apparently the CEO had confronted him about us and the project. Apparently we were enjoying ourselves too much. Apparently things weren’t going fast enough. Metaphors like “the pirates are running the ship” and “inmates running the asylum” were used (that last one had been used once before, but not by the CEO). In his very California way Bob tried to re-assure the CEO that everything was great and there was nothing to worry about. The CEO became more adamant. Bob quit on the spot, gave him his key to the office, and walked out.

The Other Shoe

We continued working on the project. We had gotten out of the conference room as we had been planning on expanding into new office space downstairs right when Bob quit/was fired. It was a lot more comfortable. It was now August. One morning a few of us were asked into an office. We were getting fired. Three of us. The least tenured developers. All from the re-write project. I was told I was “combative,” and I am pretty sure they were referencing the fact that I wasn’t going to use a half a dozen modal windows. We said our goodbyes and were asked to leave immediately. We told the rest of the team we’d go into town to a restaurant and they would come meet us for lunch. We had become a team, and it was sad to leave. My friend was still there, and stayed there for at least another year. They shut down the project after they fired the three of us. It worked out for the best, there is no doubt about that.

Is There a Conclusion?

There are tons of holes to this story. That is, I think, the biggest take-away. The utter lack of making proper use of a good, productive, team. The hard part is, usually, creating that team. In my opinion, we had it. And then it was all gone.

Solving Problems & Saving Time through Software and Crushing Entropy. Twitter: @EngineerJohnO