I saw things start to break down barely two years into the industry; I started in 1988, Microsoft a year later, and within a year after that had an officemate, who babbled in Hindi loud enough to hear in India without a phone, all day.
OK, there were a lot of questionable practices; where in my first year at MS we had one meeting per week, suddenly we had them almost daily. Now? Several every day. There was an argument to be made, a wildly dishonest argument but not completely absurd, that groups (“teams” are for football) needed a lot of communication.
The scrum morning standup strained credibility to the snapping point, requiring us to drive in rush hour traffic to attend a going-through-the-motions status update that could have been done in email. So what had been a 30 minute drive became a 90 minute slog, arriving weary and irritable just to listen to developers say they were working on the same thing as yesterday, and with a new nomenclature that had me clenching my fists under the table.
Adults read novels, novellas, short stories. “Stories” are for children.
Still, one could make an exceedingly improbable case that we needed to meet to coordinate, though I had done it in email for 20 years.
But with pair programming there was no even remotely credible justification at all, except one: sadism. You did it twice; I did it once. For three hours. And eleven years later the memory was still attacking me every single day, biting down on my knuckles and reminding myself I would never do it again. My pairing partner was a lickspittle, an obedient corporate piece of shit whom I absolutely could not stand. I quit the next day with some words for my manager that would have had security escort me out of the building if I wasn’t already leaving, the two halves on my cardkey on my manager’s desk.
It was years before here on Medium I heard from another writer that her Wall Street days had left her with PTSD and her description was unmistakable the same as my experience; a memory that would not fade, anxiety and stress. And this was after a single three-hour session, though the fact that this son of a bitch came to my office ready to do it all day after I had told him I couldn’t do it anymore had at least as much to do with it as the PP session itself.
Hip to hip with a guy I despised for three hours. I desired distance like a man lost in the desert desires water.
The industry has gone to shit. Agile, scrum, TDD, XP, all complete fucking garbage.
“Our productivity is very poor, let’s hold a four hour meeting and discuss it.” Morons. Focus and concentration are unsocial isolation, the answer is more testing. Morons.
But I’m out. I haven’t worked onsite since August 2010 and never will again. My advocacy for a return to uninterrupted work is strictly in writing. Were I onsite and finding myself in a “sprint retrospective” spending two hours discussing what we just learned about teamwork, I’d end up in a mental institution or maybe in prison. I did one most onsite job after the PP episode at Microsoft and then I left the country.