05 August, 2010

When the cat's away...

... well, let's face it, if mice were as retarded as Ted E. they'd play regardless of whether the cat was there or not.

Ted took advantage of me being off sick for a few days by restarting his campaign against how I've been managing recurring charging on some things.  This has come up a few times over the last twelve months or so, and several times already this year.  The last time saw The Invertebrate trapped in his office for an hour and a half trying to explain to Ted why (a) why these charges are different, and (b) why they needed to be handled differently (rather than Ted's favoured solution, which is a one-size doesn't-fit-anyone-except-maybe-Godzilla option). The Invertebrate came out thinking he'd made progress, but while we were at a meeting Ted spent the afternoon laboriously composing an email that boiled down to "I don't understand, I disagree, and here's how he can make it consistently fail to work for anyone."

This time around it was more of the same.  Instead of padding out the charging details with meaningless fluff, I've reworked the system slightly indicate the period for which the charge applied. I'm not sure quite what it is about this that bugs Ted, but bug him it very clearly is and he resumed harping while I wasn't around to shoot him down.

Then he went one further and rang my predecessor for some expert advice to bolster his case.  I won't go into all the reasons why this just beggars belief, but it was particularly funny that Ted chose this round of charging as the battleground, because it's one where my predecessor had us operating  in a massive breach of license compliance terms for several years (when I worked it out after I took over, it turns out we'd exceeded our usage by 1,667%).  I don't know what Ted actually told him, but it wouldn't really have mattered: his grasp of how our databse was actually used was only slightly less shaky than his grasp of how it needed to be used.

(And yet he was its principal designer. If you've ever wondered why I spend so much time in the background of the database repairing and modifying things, look no further for an explanation).

Not that this prevented Ted from declaring to The Invertebrate "I asked him because he knows all about how it's meant to work, and how we're supposed to be using it."  My predecessor agreed with Ted that we were definitely making too much work for ourselves, which was all the ammunition Ted needed to stroll into The Invertebrate's office to tell him we were doing things wrong, with a brief detour by the Stress Fiend to tell her:

"I've found a mentor who understands what I'm talking about and agrees with me."

Which, while almost certainly accurate from a technical point of view, didn't quite yield the results he expected.

"I lost it a little bit," The Invertebrate told me the next day, "Actually, I think I might have gone right off at him."  No "might" about it, apparently. According to the Stress Fiend, after the office door opened and Ted fled to lunch, The Invertebrate emerged looking a little sheepish, came over to her and asked:

"Uh, could you hear me yelling out here?"

Ted went home early with a headache, though, which always counts as a win.

The Invertebrate filled me in the next morning, because he'd placed it on the team meeting agenda "to get it behind us properly once and for all".  None of us were particularly looking forward to it, but being yelled at must have given even Ted a hint of where things were going because when the agenda item came around:

"No, no.  I understand now.  It all makes sense to me."

No. I don't believe it, either.

(We've all agreed this means in about two to four weeks it's going to come up again.  I estimate two, The Invertebrate leans optimistically towards four, but either way it's up to him to deal with it when it rears its stupid ugly head again, leaving me to sit quietly and listen for the yells from The Invertebrate's office. And The Invertebrate (hopefully) has learnt a valuable lesson - you need to brutalise Ted on a fairly regular basis if you want him to toe the line even temporarily.  It's not an ideal management style, but when you're not allowed to physically beat staff sometimes you just have to make do.)

Ted's ears pricked up later in the meeting when we mentioned my predecessor was coming over for a meeting this week, but appeared visibly crestfallen to learn his mentor had chosen one of Ted's official off-days for his visit.  Then he tried to find out whether my predecessor was reachable by any kind of instant-messaging client, but as Ted doesn't actually understand what instant messaging actually is, it was very easy to tell him "No, his organisation doesn't use Lotus Sametime" and watch his hopes of discrete consultation with the Master of All Things Licensing collapse.

I suspect he was destined for disappointment, anyway. The Invertebrate was still fuming about when he ran into the Mentor of Ted socially later that evening and "suggested" he not give Ted any further encouragement about how we should do things with systems my predecessor doesn't understand or have any part of.

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