We had a succession of toxic dev leads. The first was a condescending prick; once he was done evangelizing Microsoft products he did zero useful work. Even after he was in hot water he spent days adding capital letters and periods to my tracelogging statements, which only I used. Users obviously didn’t see them.

Given an actual bug to fix it took him five days of otherwise doing nothing to get to it; he put TODOs in the code and added a few insulting comments. It took me 20 minutes t do the actual work, which the browser guy needed to get unblocked.

But his real contribution was serial urgent crises, changes we needed to make at considerable risk and no expressible gain other than coming into conformance with the industry standard, a phrase he used as if it ended all arguments. It certainly didn’t do so for me. He yapped buzzwords all the time and never met a fad too goofy for him. Industry standard! Procedural language! Unit tests!

Each of these urgencies became the only topic of discussion and our questioning the reasons for doing them just led to ever more condescension. He said we were using full IIS.instead of IIS Express, this wasn’t “industry standard,” and all conversations, every bug, every issue, came back to the latest urgent change.

One time I pressed him for an hour for a reason to make one of these changes and wouldn’t let him change the subject. Boy, did he try. I was relentless. Finally. “It’d sure be easier to administer.” This wasn’t true, and we only needed to administer it when we had a new hire, which was maybe once a year. I don’t know how this guy hadn’t had someone track him down and break his jaw for him.

It took the boss over two months of this guy billing hours for being a nuisance to get around to firing him. By then the rest of is didn’t listen to him at all.

The next was a buzzword-spreader too. Technical debt. Branch hygiene. I thought he was a breath of fresh air when he agreed that our 20 moribund and aging branches were indicative of a problem; he was supposed to be a liaison between the main office and we developers. We were a distributed team; the company was in California, the browser guy was in Sydney and I live in Vietnam. He didn’t communicate because he was always butthurt about something or other, so he was a failure at being a liaison. His code was entry level despite claiming ten times my experience in ASP.NET; I had to fix everything he checked in. I don’t mean reformat it, i mean fix shoddy work or new bugs. He was an idiot.

We both quit. He’s still there and replaced me with some gamer who is likely some guy who looks up to this creep. The staging server is showing all kinds of new bugs and the Sydney guy’s work remains unfinished four months later.

But you haven’t seen toxic coworkers until you’ve worked at Microsoft. They stack ranking puts teammates into direct competition with each other.

I only work remotely now. I find the whole industry with its goofy fads to be toxic.

American Software Developer living in Vietnam. Classical musician (guitar, woodwinds), weightlifter, multilingual, misanthrope • XY

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