Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bad Karma

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while realize that Karma is a recurring character around here. She is someone I am forced to work closely with and Karma is not her real name. I've given up on trying to communicate with her. My goal is just to survive her. This is hard as she is an excellent button pusher. That goal was tested again yesterday...

The testing actually began acouple weeks ago, but I've been avoiding it until now. You see, Karma has been unhappy at work for...well...as long as I've known her. She hates California. She hates her boss. She hates the company. Why doesn't she leave? Apparently, she can't. Not until she wraps up some mysterious, unspecified dealings. I think she is actually a zombie and is rooted to this spot. Ok. I don't, but it sure would make things easier. At any rate, she is stuck here being miserable and therefore feels it is right to make others miserable. Apparently, some of her hatred of me stems from the fact that I am doing work that she wants to be doing. The fact that I am more qualified to do the work and better at it is irrelevant. She wants to do it and it is unjust that she can't.

A few weeks ago my boss pulled me into his office. Apparently, he has gotten to the heart of Karma's problems. Well, two of them anyway. She had been unhappy about her cube placement and denied an opportunity to move in the past. He finally moved her. She was no longer on a busy corner. People had to work at it to look into her cube, now. The other issue was that she was not getting to do any automation work. She'd been relegated primarily to manual testing. This was just as well, in my book. I spend much of my automation time debugging her scripts and try to make then pass consistently. Anyway, he wanted to talk to me about the other half of her problem. He didn't phrase it this way, but I knew where it was comingfrom. He explained to me that his current budget only allowed for one full time resource for automation. Everyone else was supposed to script when they had the opportunity. Well, my boss had decided to split the 100% oer two people. I was to go from 100% automation to 50% automation and 50% manual. This really meant closer to 0% automation as once you are on a shipping project, it consumes your soul. He explained that she wanted to do automation and I had ben hoping for more laser knowledge. It was win-win. I don't think he really believed that, but the facade allowed him to keep the peace and offered me yet another opportunity to show what a team guy I am.

Of course, I seized the opportunity. I actually do want to get some laser knowledge. And I like to work on the shipping products from time to time. But I don't want her doing scripting. Every time she writes a big script, it means more work for me. I have resolved to show her up in every phase of software quality. Perhaps when they see that she really is not good at any of this, they will ofer her the opportunity to pursue other avenues of employment.

I thought for sure these changes would have cheered her. She got a better cube and she got to inflict some unhappiness on me. She got her way. Twice. In the same week. That had to be uplifting for her, right? No. She hated the cube. It was too close to a laser. And she now had too much work to do and not enough time. And besides, Minh (also not her real name) had gotten a better automation assignment than she had. This was especially galling to her as she had worked with Minh previously and had referred her for this position. "I've created a monster," she intoned fatalistically. Minh is Vietnamese. She is petite. She is demure. She has a great smile. She is many things. Monster is not one of them.

I rolled my eyes and gave up. I headed off to do some testing. Shortly into the testing, it became apparent that our test team was only going to have one laser. We were going to have to work in shifts. Split out hours. Karma immediately placed dibs on the afternoon/evening shift. She planned to come in at 2 and leave whenever. Rather than cause a stink, even though I am more efective in the evening hours, I offered to come in at 6 am so I could maximize usage. So, I would work 6-2, Karma would work 2-10, and Jim (which is his real name) would jump in wherever he could.

Well, that was all fine and dandy until the weekend rolled around. We all had testing we had to do and Karma took an informal poll of who would be around during the weekend. I asked about running the overnight test assigned to me. She told me not to bother. "Jim and I are both coming in over the weekend. The competition for laser time is going to be tough enough as it is." Well, I'm glad she decided that my priority was lower than hers. But I didn't push it. Team player. Remember? So, I worked on stuf from home and got a fair amount accomplished.

Apparently, Jim trumped her for their overlapping portions of the weekend and Karma came in Monday in a huff. He felt that she hadn't been making the most of the laser time she had, so why should he give her more? Fortunately, that didn't impact me at all as our shifts don't have much overlap. At least I didn't think it impacted me.

On Tuesday I discovered the error of my ways. Toward the end of my shift at the height of my cold, Jim and I received a pissy email from her demanding that we set a schedule for the weekend. She wanted to know EXACTLY when the laser was hers. I responded that I thought it might be better to wait until we were closer to the weekend. That way we'd have a beter idea of what tests still needed to be done and whose testing would have priority. Then I gathered my things to go home. It was 3, I had been here nine hours, and I didn't feel well. The lab door burst open and Karma strode in. "Can you come down to Jim's desk so we can take care of the weekend schedule." I told her about my suggestion and that we could address it on Thursday or Friday. "Some of us would like to have our weekend settlede so we can make plans!" she snorted in her huffiest voice. "Well, I can't do it now," I told her, "I was just heading out the door and I don't feel well at all." This was not the right thing to say. "It'll only take five minutes. I need to know whether or not I can make plans. I need to know whether or not I can go to Church!" Apparently, her Church does not offer services multiple times over the weekend. Or else she felt that her schedule would be a handful of one hour blocks, all coinciding with her Church times.

Ah. There it was. I don't think that was her real concern, but she was looking for the martyrdom in the moment. By not doing what she wanted, when she wanted it, I was oppressing her as a Christian. I felt a sudden rush of power. I was an oppressor. I decided to make use of it. "Well, it'll have to wait until tomorrow. I need to be someplace." She stormed out and immediately fired off another email. This one reiterated her point that things had to be taken care of right away.

On my way out, I stopped off to talk to Jim. He couldn't meet right then, because he had another meeting. I told him I'd check in with my wife and give him my availability in the morning. He found that to be more than sufficient. In the morning, I gave him my availability. Karma gave him her preferences. She wanted the prime aftenoon spots on Saturday and Sunday, 2-7 both days. These aren't what you'd call reasonable shifts. Neither Jim nor I could really come in after 7 since we both are in in the morning on Monday. She ended up getting 2-7 Saturday and 4-7 Sunday. I got noon-4 Sunday and Jim took 6am-noon. He also figured he'd come in Saturday evening and try to get some stuff done.

Karma looked at the schedule and said, "Oh, good. I can come in early on Saturday since nobody else is using that slot." So, her strategy was to take times she knew other people wanted and then come in on the open times that nobody wanted! Nice.

The weekend rolled around and Jim decided to come in Saturday around 4 to check some things and see if he could hop on the laser when Karma was done at 7. Problem was, she wasn't there! This ticked Jim off more than a little bit as he could have come in earlier and made it home in time to have dinner with his family. However, she had the laser to herself from 2-7 so, he had waited. This only added to his pique about her poor use of laser time.

I dare not hope it, but could this be the end of Karma?

If you are new to the character and want to see more of her absurd, but true, exploits, check out these tales:

Karma on beauty
Karma on The South
Karma dictates breakfast law
I have fun at Karma's expense re:breakfast
I have more fun re:breakfast
Karma explains acceptable prejudice
Karma hates rice...and Asians