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one week in
singapore sunset
amw
Hello and welcome to another boring weekly update about my job. It's only been a week and i am straight back in the shackles. Work just completely saps all of my energy and motivation to do anything. It's the weekend, and this weekend it's a little sunnier than last weekend - adventure weather! - but i can't be fucked.

Last week's arrogant coworker problem might be on the path to improvement. It turns out i am not the only one who has found S's behavior concerning and reported it up the chain. On Wednesday morning my boss had a one-on-one with him and Thursday he seemed to have adjusted his attitude somewhat. He's still an arrogant jackass - that won't change overnight - but he seems to at least be trying to soften his abrasiveness. We'll see if it holds.

Here's the issue, though. We are a startup. But we are a startup where the CEO has set a goal to hire a fucking Cecil B. DeMille army of 码农 (code peasants) by Spring Festival. What that means is we need a senior team to set up some structure so that new guys can onboard and get up to speed quickly. Unfortunately S is absolutely not the right person to do that job. So on Monday two junior guys turned up for their first day and there was no one around to support them.

Don't get me wrong, S thought he had an idea of how to onboard. That is, install all their software up-front so they do not have to do anything themselves, rock up to work at 11am (they were in at 9), draw some diagrams on the whiteboard, send them off to implement a fix, then 4 hours later come back to tell them he had already solved the problem so they should just throw away what they did and look at his code instead.

So, basically, the exact opposite of how in my opinion you should onboard new guys.

Meanwhile S has not documented any of the tools he mandated, has not set up any kind of structure for task management, did not implement a formal workflow for committing code [sharing changes back with the rest of the team], and does not have a guideline for code review or testing or anything. My strong suspicion is that this is because S has never worked at a company that follows software engineering best practices. His last job was CTO of some software outsourcing company, where he likely just tended to a box of mushrooms.

Mushroom management is exactly the wrong way to build a culture of innovation. And it most assuredly does not engage your guys or make them loyal, high-output workers.

In short, what this company needed was someone with real management experience to set up an onboarding plan ahead of hiring any juniors. I.e. they needed me or the CTO to set this up. But it turns out the juniors were snap hired after only interviewing with S (not the CTO) and - hilariously - one of them cannot even speak English. Since S does not speak any Chinese (despite living here for 7 years) i have absolutely no idea what they "discussed" on the interview. I think S just wanted some guys to boss around to make himself feel more important.

But, you know, it's a startup. Everything is a chaos at the beginning, right? There is too much work to do and not enough guys to do it. People need to wear many hats, including hats that don't fit. So maybe you get a self-important nong hiring juniors too early. Unfortunately juniors do not have enough workplace experience to understand which processes still need to be established, so that has fallen on me.

This week, instead of working on technical stuff, i have been helping the CTO set up a development workflow, i have created some new readme documents, i have set up pages with English and Chinese translations of common technical terms... And i have been trying to sneak some mentoring in between S's ham-fisted attempts. His training philosophy appears to be: tell the guys to solve a problem that is totally out of their depth, then come back later with a solution and explain why everything they did was wrong. Facepalm.

It's challenging, because i am mentoring three juniors (something i am good at and enjoy), and i am setting up onboarding docs and workflows for software teams in general (something i am also good at and enjoy), but meanwhile i have ceded the technical direction to S... And because of his lack of deep technical knowledge, i know that's going to hobble our velocity in the long run. Fine - that would be part of the learning experience if i had set a junior or mid-level guy to do this, but he's supposed to be a senior! Sigh. I need to try to softly guide him in the right direction while still allowing him to believe that he is the grand architect of all architects, God's gift to programming, bla bla bla. Which is painful when even some fundamentals i am teaching the new guys are beyond him.

So, you know. I thought the challenges of a startup were going to be specifically technical challenges. How do we get all the infrastructure set up to compete with the (very) big players in this industry when we only have a small team? But it seems before we can even get to that stage of technical innovation, there's going to be a lot of education around basic workflow stuff that wouldn't have been necessary if we had just started with 2 or 3 senior team players in the first place.

Good news is - again - the CTO recognizes this. All this stuff i am spewing in my journal is a more raw version of the things he has also shared with me (unprompted) on our one-on-ones. So i know he has his head screwed on and that he understands my frustration. It seems like this is a problem of unfortunate timing. If i had started 2 weeks earlier and the other guys 2 weeks later, then a lot of stuff would have already been sorted out up-front. Even if S came on as a so-called "senior architect" at least i would have established the workflows to guide him in direction that would be more aligned with what the CTO wants.

But, you know. Such is life. The CTO already rolled back the idea of having a dedicated architect and made it very clear to the guys that he's the boss and it's a flat hierarchy until we establish more formal roles. I suspect if he grows the team over here i will be tapped as a team lead or engineering manager, which is fine with me. I just hope that the team growth happens in a more sensible way going forward. We really need to beef out the senior layer to try help level up S and get him actually performing the way he thinks he is performing in his head. And we need more people on the ground who can reinforce the CTO's vision and communicate it well in Chinese.

Fuck, okay, so i applied for a job of architect, got bumped down to developer on my contract, but really i am now doing the job of a manager. Good times.

It's frustrating. It's challenging. But i'm new, so i'm up for it. I still want to make this company kick ass. I want to make little robots that zoom around doing stuff, damnit.

Meanwhile, my work permit is renewed and on Monday i have the appointment to file my resident permit renewal. Comfortably ahead of December 31, so even if i am missing some paperwork on Monday 还来得及 - i've still got time. That's the real good news of the week. Immigration pressure decreases, work pressure increases.

I need a vacation!
Tags:

how do you deal with arrogant coworkers?
singapore sunset
amw
Thursday i started my new job, and what should have been a day of setting up my computer and relaxing into the gig turned into a string of unnecessary battles with a raging tool.

Here is the problem. This job advertized in English for an architect. I applied, and was completely honest about my strengths and weaknesses.

I have almost 20 years in software development and i have worked in all kinds of industries from healthcare to manufacturing to e-commerce to supply chain management. I have been both a team lead and a line developer, and i have been deeply involved in business process change, training, mentoring, interviewing and onboarding. I take my job extremely seriously, and when i am in the office i am constantly trying to find ways to improve my productivity, as well as that of my colleagues. In short, i totally know my shit.

But, also, i know there are guys who are far more skilled than me technically. Guys with PhDs and mountains of research papers. Guys who deeply understand the science and mathematics of coding. So i explain that in my interviews too. While it was clear that the CTO could see past that, it was also very clear that the CEO could not. When i mentioned i wasn't familiar with some of the buzzwords the CEO wants to use to sell our products, he sounded dejected, while still acknowledging the skills i do have and the contribution i could make.

I got the job offer as a senior developer. Hey, whatever. It's a small company. In my opinion it's kind of silly to hire an architect at this early stage anyways - especially when there is already an accomplished CTO in place.

What i didn't expect was that i would show up for work to find out that in the interim they have hired an architect (oh, i'm sorry, he's not just a lowly architect, he's a "senior architect") who has no PhD, no masters, no professional certifications, less years of experience in the field than me and - as i discovered within 5 minutes of talking to him - an attitude that would have him immediately fired from most jobs in the west.

S is the epitome of arrogance. In just two days of working with him i have seen him interrupt conversations in which he was not involved, grab both the mouse and entire laptops out of people's hands (including mine) to "show you how to do it properly", tell me to change my computer's colors/theme so that he can read it more easily, order another developer to go fetch him an eraser, order a coworker to stay behind at work even as she was one foot out the door because he has an extremely important topic to discuss "in 10 minutes"... I mean, it's just flabbergasting.

Friday he stormed into the office after 3pm because i don't know why he wasn't there all morning, interrupted another conversation i was having with a coworker, then abused me for committing some code yesterday. That is, fixing a bug in his code, which was not compiling and did not run on anyone's computer except his own. Then he had the nerve to tell me that i was wrong, and that one of the files i committed should never have been committed because that's not the architecture he designed. And. Like. Without getting into the nitty gritty, this file is considered a fundamental file that pretty much every software project in the whole world includes to help describe its configuration.

And that is far from the only thing wrong with the project that S "created" 7 days ago. The project runs on a version of Java that has been officially discontinued since 2015. It does not follow directory structure guidelines that were standardized in the Java world back in 2004. It uses an ancient framework that most of my peers in the industry associate with banks and airlines - that is to say, the two most user-unfriendly, heavyweight and bugged enterprise softwares that there is. It uses a proprietary front-end that costs money to license, and i am 99% sure he has not notified the CTO that including this front-end would require us to either eat the cost or tack on a significant surcharge for our customers. The reason i am so sure he hasn't notified the CTO of potential licensing issues is because if you open up the code he "wrote" that is all proudly copyrighted to him and dated as being created 7 days ago... it includes thousands of lines that are unused, where you can see that it has literally been lifted directly from another (banking) project.

Now, i know that arrogant people tend to be incompetent and insecure about the fact that they are incompetent. But knowing that they are pathetic individuals doesn't make them any easier to deal with. Especially when they are as aggressive and physically intimidating as this guy - he's Pakistani (not Chinese) and built like a linebacker. There were a few moments where his invasion of my personal space left me literally trembling and just a hair away from punching him squarely in the jaw.

What boggles me is that he got hired at all.

I had a 1-on-1 with my boss, the CTO, and before i even brought up any of this stuff he mentioned the issue of S. He says it's a challenge to get him to understand that we are a startup and that means every developer on the team - junior and senior alike - are all reporting to the CTO and that we should be working together, not directing traffic. When i shared my discomfort with my boss (who is in the US, so he hasn't seen any of the bad behavior first-hand), he was appalled. Then he tactfully revealed that he and the CEO have had some disagreements about this hire. I think i can piece together the rest. CEO thought i was too humble and not architect material. CEO thinks this raging douche canoe can talk a good game so he should be an architect.

Right. Fucking, whatever. I don't care about job titles. But i do care about my mental health, and the quality of life at work. At my last job there were (at least) three people who were exactly like S. Two French managers and one Indian manager. Completely incompetent. Constantly trying to one-up you on literally every topic - technical or not. Always shuffling the blame elsewhere when their team failed to deliver. Always treating their team like garbage - yelling at them, ordering them around, forcing them to do overtime and so on. I mean, what is this, a fucking slave galley?

And then it struck me that this aligns perfectly with my experience of expats in China. Incompetent fucks who could never make it in their own country come to China, and because there is a certain type of Chinese person who likes to shower praise on foreigners, that feeds the ego of these clowns. So, basking in their newfound celebrity, they join foreign companies as "China experts" where they get to lead a team of 码农 (code peasants), who are happy to have the slightly higher salaries and much higher prestige offered by working for a foreign company. Meanwhile the self-proclaimed China experts rake in fat salaries, live like kings and never bother to learn a single word of the language.

I mean, it's no wonder you end up with underperforming developers who build shoddy products. If they just sit there and eat all the shit these flop bosses feed them, no doubt they either grow to hate the software industry, or foreign bosses, or both.

It's infuriating.

But what i have learned in the last day of reading various articles about how to deal with arrogant coworkers, if you let them infuriate you, then these assholes have already won. You know you are better than them. Smarter. More personable. Trying to point out why you are right and they are wrong is only going to cause them to get even more defensive, and double-down on their bald-faced lying.

(To wit: S spent 20 minutes trying to convince me that you can buy a wide selection of ground coffee at any Walmart in China, despite the fact that he rarely drinks coffee, i am a 3-4 cup a day addict, i have been in China dealing with this coffee problem for 18 months and i literally live in the same building as a Walmart that only sells instant.)

According to the internets, the best way to deal with an arrogant coworker is to minimize contact with them, timebox your meetings, remain assertive about your personal space but generally just kind of nod and let them "win" battles. It occurred to me that the nodding and letting them "win" while privately considering them idiots is exactly the strategy of my Chinese coworkers, so perhaps i have something to learn from them. The other strategy is to keep marketing your own success to the bosses so that the praise will start to come your way. The theory is that when an arrogant person sees someone they consider to be more powerful than them praise you, the arrogant person will start to see you as someone to brown-nose instead of someone to bamboozle.

Although, dear lord, you would think that a manager seeking to build a high-performing team would just kick this kind of person out on his ass on day one. People like that should get therapy and learn to deal with their own insecurities before wreaking havoc on a collaborative workplace.

Then again, i guess a lot of people don't care about competence and only care about confidence. Witness the ongoing - baffling - popularity of the current American president, for one.

If anyone reading has tips of how to deal with a coworker like this, i'd greatly appreciate it.

I dunno, man. I mean, this company was supposed to be fun. A way to escape mediocrity and work for a passionate team. It's a good sign that even being 7500 miles away my boss is already aware of the problem, but... he's 7500 miles away. My boss said he wants me to start work on a different project where i can have my own team and make sure it's done right, but i don't know if i will be happy working on a good project for a good boss when in the very same room there is a dictatorial amateur abusing everyone around him.

But maybe that's just the shit i need to put up with until my Chinese gets fluent enough to get hired into a Chinese firm where there are no self-important expats.

Fuck, i hate expats in China. Seriously.

Let's give this a few months and see how it goes. Once i get my resident permit extended, i can breathe a bit easier.

Also. God fucking damnit. Robots! I should focus on the robots.
Tags: ,

Friday to Saturday, Nanning → Shenzhen
singapore sunset
amw
Friday morning after leaving Weizhou Island i tried to set it up so i could skip Beihai and get all the way back to Nanning for a final day of relaxation. From the ferry terminal i jumped in a taxi and went straight to the bus station.

Catching buses in China is much less painful than catching trains. You walk into the bus station, show your passport, hand over some cash, get a ticket. In this case i was shooting for the 12:30 bus, but i arrived at 11:55 and got a ticket on the 12:00 instead. I put my baggage through the scanner and jumped on the greyhound and that was that.

The other great thing about catching the bus is no tunnels. You can sightsee all the way.

But, since it was raining, i finished up my first LJ travelogue instead.

-o-

Coming into Nanning felt like coming home. I jumped on a share bike and lazily cruised down to the center of the city. It's the kind of shallow incline you wouldn't notice on foot, but just enough to make you sweat cycling up and glide cycling down.

I checked in, took my shoes off, posted another LJ entry and then laced back up again for a walk. I headed to the south bank to see where all the music was coming from.



Turns out someone in the Nanning parks office is into psychedelic projections, because against the bridges and along the embankment were the kinds of displays i haven't seen anywhere since going to outdoor raves/hippie parties in the 90s. The music was blasting out of hidden speakers and echoed all up and down the river. It was Chinese folk songs this time.

Nanning is clearly at an earlier stage of development than Shenzhen - and for the better. All along the river you could walk right down to the water without being blocked by any fences or called back by overzealous security guards. People were fishing and chilling and canoodling on the rocks. An entrance to the riverwalk had been bricked off for some unknown reason, so people just clambered over the railing a bit further up, risking a very high fall. Speaking of railings, on the bridges they only go waist-high so walking across you can lean on the edge and look clear at the skyline with the wind in your hair.

I fear all of this will change in the coming years. First will come the no fishing signs and suicide barriers. Then will come the persnickety patrols. Finally all the street vendors and other "low end population" will be ejected from their homes near the water. The city will end up safer and cleaner, but it will lose something too.

I crossed the river a few bends down and headed under the bridge in search of a share bike. Instead i found a late night 烧烤 (BBQ) joint just getting started, so i sat down and ordered a couple of beers. They didn't have anything specifically Guangxi, so i ordered some usual faves like tofu skin, eggplant and greens.

I should describe the eggplant you get at 烧烤 joints. They split an eggplant down the middle and then grill or roast it till it's soft. Then they pile on a thick layer of minced garlic and grill it some more. It comes to the table looking like a bit like a fish - blackened skin down, garlic-encrusted flesh up. You just go in with chopsticks and tear off strings one at a time. If they cooked it right, the consistency is almost like melted cheese. It's delicious. And, because Guangxi, they also added a bunch of fresh chilis, which was awesome.

After pigging out under the bridge, i continued up to the roadside joint i had visited on Monday and had another beer while listening to Chinese pop music and watching some guys play dice games. I finished up with a loop through the night market, where i picked up a serve of toffee-dipped sweet potato and half a pound of fresh guava and pineapple tossed in chili. I headed back to the hotel to enjoy my haul.

-o-

Saturday i lazed in bed till the last possible moment. At noon I headed into the western-style shopping street i had found the Tuesday before, and tried a local coffee shop. I hadn't noticed before, but there were like a billion fucking bubble tea places around there. That part of Nanning is definitely the most Taiwan-looking place i have seen anywhere outside of Taiwan.

After coffee and a sweet bun, i took a share bike to a big patch of green i saw on my map called 五象岭森林公园 - Five Elephant Ridge Forest Park. I like elephants, and i like ridges, and i like the number 5, so i thought it would be cool.

On the way i stopped into a bustling hole in the wall where they were making the local speciality 老友面 - old friends noodle. Unfortunately in all the time i was in Nanning i couldn't find anywhere that would make a vege version of this, and here was no exception. I don't mind to eat a little meat if it's a special occasion, but i just didn't feel in the mood that morning, so i asked if they could make me a vege dish instead. The 老板 was happy to oblige, so i sat on a plastic stool and had some tea and talked to the kids while i waited for my fried noodle.

-o-

The ride out to the mountain was longer than i expected. The weather was overcast and cool, and i followed the riverside road, wondering if just over the levee was another waterfront path for joggers and fishermen. Something to find out next time.

I jumped off my Mobike right at the invisible border of the official usage area - after getting hit by a fine twice i'm getting more savvy about checking before i cycle out to distant locations - and then continued on foot. I had to ask a few people, but eventually i found an entrance to the park.

It was a great urban park. Just like the river, it wasn't over-developed. No trash cans. No signs. No stairs. Just some dirt paths looping through the forest and up into the hills. There was even a little pond in the middle that wasn't fenced off either.



Up the top i found something that looked a bit like a fire watch tower. It might have been a weather station. I spied a forester tinkering with his trike so went over to ask for directions. He pointed me back the way i came, but i told him i wanted to have a bit more fun than that. After some pressing, he said turning left up ahead would take me on a long route and leave me stuck on the wrong side of the city, but going right would be okay.

That path led me down the back side of the hill and into a polluted creek that i suspect might have been the thing the park worker was reluctant to point me toward. But fluorescent-colored water and piles of trash aside, it was still a lovely spot. They'll clean it up sooner or later.

Each side of the valley had graves hidden amongst the trees, which i guess is the feng shui way to bury your ancestors. Although, you know, even though there is Tomb-Sweeping Day here, i don't think i've ever seen a swept tomb on my walks. I wonder if their descendants are still in the region, or even still alive?

Anywho, it was a great little 2 hour hike. What made it even better is when i popped back into civilization, i looked up a public transport solution to the train station, waited 5 minutes, then hopped on a bus for 2 kuai that took me right there. This is also my experience of public transport in Shenzhen - walk off in any direction you please, and when you get tired guaranteed within 10 minutes you will find a bus that takes you exactly where you want to end up.

Dudes. Nanning is now officially my favorite Chinese city. It didn't have all the great street food of Guiyang, but i also didn't have to walk up 6 flights of stairs to get to my hotel room either. It's in the Goldilocks zone of gentrification/urban development. Since it's "only" 4-5 hours away, i could make it a weekend holiday destination that'd be a cheaper trip than my other favorite city in the region (Kaohsiung).

-o-

You see, that's the thing. This little journey has reminded me of a few things.

Number one, my apartment has a tiny bed, no broadband and a bathroom where i cannot stretch my arms without hitting a wall. From time to time it's nice to sprawl in a giant bed, get online without tethering and have a shower without leaving the toilet seat soaked for the rest of the day.

Number two, traveling with a day pack is fucking awesome. I didn't take my intercontinental pack on this trip, i just took a schoolbag with my Kindle, tablet, water bottle, flip-flops, toiletries, underwear and shirts. No spare shoes, no spare pants, no spare sweater. Every time i left my hotel, i took everything with me. I could jump on a share bike and just go. A day spent hiking with all my stuff didn't mean collapsing in a heap at the end. It felt so free.

Number three, i can fucking speak Chinese now. I thought i could a year ago, but i couldn't. This time traveling i could not only make myself vaguely understood, i could have simple conversations and solve problems without resorting to a translation app or frustrating everyone around me. It makes life so much more enjoyable.

Number four, having a local bank card means having access to mobile payments. At home i prefer to pay cash because i know exactly how much things are going to cost in advance and i can easily break large bills at the grocery store anyway. On the road, being able to flash your QR code while your wallet is safely tucked away in your pack is a revelation.

Number five, even though high speed rail requires more planning than i like, it also puts several decent-sized cities within striking range for a weekend trip. Notably, cities where even if i order the exact same dish as i would in Shenzhen, the locals actually put chili on it. As my taxi driver said when i arrived back here "yeah, us Cantonese, we are scared of spicy".

Perhaps i should go on trips more often.

Then again, my taxi driver also said "i'd never go back to my 老家". His 老家 (old home) was some small town in Guangdong. "Shenzhen is my home now. It's much more convenient, they have everything here." Well, he wasn't lying.

The most notable "everything" they have here is work. Tomorrow it's time for chores. Thursday is back to reality.

Wednesday to Friday, Weizhou Island
singapore sunset
amw
The boat ride to Weizhou was uneventful. I checked my map when i got to the island and saw it was about 5km to my hotel, so i skipped the touts in tuk tuks and golf carts and decided to walk. I had about an hour before sunset and figured it'd be okay.

What i didn't realize, when i saw that the island was about 5km in diameter, was that inside that small space are a dozen rural villages. The whole island is a national park, but it's still a place where people live and work. Okay, fine. Rural villages means never being more than a stone's throw from civilization. Cool, right?

Wrong. Fucking small-hold farming means chickens and dogs and water buffalo wander free. I am a city kid. I am fucking terrified of chickens and dogs and water buffalo. Snakes, scorpions, geckos, i don't give a shit. You live them alone, they'll leave you alone. Rats, possums, cockroaches? Whatever, they only come out at night and only want your trash anyways. But farm animals just stand there in the middle of the road staring at you, daring you to walk past. They're slaves, and every human that walks past is the face of their oppression. I don't trust farm animals one bit.



But, i made it, yanno. It was dark by the time i popped out at a little fish market on the south side of the island. There was lots of commotion and excitement and people were happy to point me to my hotel.

-o-

It was the wrong fucking hotel. On Booking.com I had seen the English name something-something summer hotel, and on my Chinese map i only found one hotel with the character 夏 (summer), and the photos looked the same... but it was not the same.

After some exasperated discussion with the owner of the wrong hotel, i called the contact number of the hotel i had booked. In hindsight i now think it was never a real hotel. The room photos seemed cribbed, and the address was non-existent. The owner was in Beihai, and his wife - Y - was at her other job which i still don't know what it was.

I had to take a fucking tuk tuk literally all the way back to where i started. And then squat in the dark watching some kids play basketball until Y arrived, led me through some back alleys and had me sit in the lobby with another guest while she cleaned a room.

Now, i think if i hadn't been to Croatia during the off-season with my dad a few years back, i would have broken down completely. I was in a hotel right on the other side of the island from where i wanted to be, with only one other guest in the place, an electric jug half-full of mold, no restaurants nearby and no towel. But, then i thought back to that trip to Croatia, and what i've seen of southern Italy and the Med in general during the off-season, and how anyway these family-owned places are always a Fawlty-esque shit-show... I decided to just roll with it.

I bought some peanuts and beer and rice crackers from the kiosk across the road, then sat down to share passionfruit tea and jujubes with Y, some local friend or family member living in the place, and the other guest. I couldn't follow all of their conversation, but they were hitting on the standard Chinese topics of finding a partner, finding a job, and deciding whether it was better to live in the big city (more opportunities, but too expensive and too much stress) or come back to the village.

I turned in early, happy to at least have a warm bed.

-o-

The next morning i texted Y to ask where i could get coffee. She had already left for work, but told me "near the church". Weizhou Island was once a target for missionaries, so there are two old churches on the island, both of which survived the Cultural Revolution. I struck out on foot, across the dam and between the banana trees.

It should be noted that chickens and dogs and water buffalo are less scary in the light of day. Or perhaps i was just getting used to it.

My map led me through some really janky roads that in places were literally just a dirt path wide enough to drive an ox. It also took me right through the middle of small villages with people choring and smoking and pottering.



I was thrilled to pop out near the church and immediately see a sign for coffee.

I was much less thrilled when i found that the café was apparently not open because fucking off-season. In fact, most of the shops weren't open. By this point i was about to lose it. Hungry and tired and no fucking coffee, i wanted to cry.

And then i met a laowai. Again, no point being coy because there are literally only two on the whole island. He's a retired American who decided to settle down in the country and open a restaurant. Since they just moved locations the restaurant isn't officially reopened yet, but he took pity on me and brewed me a real coffee.

But first this Tony Bourdain lookin' guy gave me a few shots of rum.

My day got a lot better.

We chatted for a while. He's a nice guy, living retirement the way it should be done - kicked back on a tropical island, making food, drinking booze, listening to tunes, taking walks on the beach, playing with his dogs, hanging with his wife and chatting to any foreigner that walks by. But i still wanted to see that beach, so i bid adieu and said i'd be back for dinner.

I made a bee-line to the beachfront stalls where i bought an incredibly expensive and mediocre 凉面. Fucking off-season. Then i headed south, at peace with the fact that i would just live off sweet tea for the rest of the day.



The beach was beautiful and almost completely deserted. I walked all the way down the island, to the point where the beach switches from sand to volcanic rock and coral. I switched to flip-flops and waded through the water. I took photos.



At the top around the multi-colored rocks there were a few villagers selling bananas and coral and snacks to the odd tourist group. I bought a deep-fried sweet potato 饼 and chomped my way happily back through the banana trees to the smaller church.



Something that S had explained to me is that on this island the "villages" are no joke. Each village has its own name and its own plaque explaining the ancestry. Each village has a different chief and their own tiny culture of 150-200 people.

I mean, it's fucking ridiculous. The villages are literally only a half mile from one another. But as i walked through the island i started to see what he meant. Each village has its own vibe. Some are richer and some are poorer. Some are piled high with trash and other ones have street lights and a general store.



Of course, the villages by the churches are rich, because that's where the tourists go.

I got stranded at one point, stuck on a stretch of road with a herd of goats just standing there staring at me. I have now added goats to my list of farm animals that are fucking terrifying. I just stood there waiting for a motorbike to come past, then i waved the guy over and said i was scared and could i go with him. He laughed and said i needn't worry. When he gunned his engine, the goats ran.

I walked very quickly past that farm.



Eventually night fell, and i ended up back at S's place, where his wife prepared a goddamn San Francisco style sourdough soup bowl with Irish beef stew inside. I tell you what. That's the first real bread i've eaten since i left Europe, and it was fucking good. I almost cried after the first bite. And beef stew! Man, i eat non-vegan more or less once a month, and this was one hell of a treat. Possibly even better than a pork bun. I drank a lot of his different infused rums. Banana rum. Cherry rum. Durian rum. Peach rum. Fuck yeah.

You know rum is my favorite hard liquor, right?

I told him i'd order a few bottles when i got back to Shenzhen, then took an expensive tuk tuk home.

-o-

Friday morning i decided to take the first ferry back to the mainland. There was actually more of the island i hadn't yet seen, but i was hankering for a proper shower and a coffee not given in pity. I may return some day, in sunnier weather and with a more comfortable booking.

I was pleased to find that inside the departure hall there was a little Hong Kong chain serving 车仔面 (curry noodle) and black coffee. A nice way to send me off.

Tags: ,

Tuesday/Wednesday, Nanning → Beihai
singapore sunset
amw
Tuesday morning i decided to head down to Beihai to get some beach bumming in. But first i had to find a coffee shop.

Nanning is the capital of Guangxi and it has several million people living there, but it's still not quite developed in the way tier one cities are. What that means is coffee is hard to find. I settled for Starbucks in the middle of a western-style shopping street. While i tended to my addiction, i watched a mom pop her kid in a mecha and let him drive around the mall "shooting" people. It was pretty amusing watching this kid completely fail at driving with two joysticks. I think a few people were annoyed that he almost ran them over, but most folks thought it was hilarious. At one point he got it so stuck that mom had to jump on the front and navigate it back out in the open space, like she was teaching a giant robot how to dance.

Kids entertainment aside, these sorts of places don't usually have good or cheap food, so i shouldered my pack and took a trusty share bike on the 10km uphill push to the bus station.

Biking in Nanning makes you feel boss as hell. It's actually not a cycling city at all - it's a moped city. Every road has at least one full lane dedicated to mopeds, and sometimes they take over two or more. Unlike in Taiwan, almost every moped is electric. That means no sound, no stink. When the light goes green and the whole pack takes off, forcing cars to pull over or fall back, you feel like a member of a badass silent biker gang.

It's funny. Although Shenzhen has a lot of bikes and mopeds and unicycles and self-balancing whatever-the-fucks, we're always stuck on the sidewalks and in greenways - the roads proper are still owned by buses and cars. They're mostly quiet and electric, sure, but it was definitely refreshing to be in a city where bikes are number one.

I picked up a ticket at the bus station and then sat there, crestfallen, because i had already gone through security and there was nowhere to get decent food in the departure hall. I ended up getting a sweet bun and then shuffled onto the greyhound heading south.

-o-

Rural Guangxi is nice. I guess everyone knows the mountain end of Guangxi - up north where they have the steep karst mountains, rice terraces, all those classic South China vistas... but in the south it's just rolling hills of eucalyptus (?) occasionally punctuated by a small-hold with a rice paddy and a cabbage patch.

Something i have probably mentioned before is that i am not a big fan of trees and mountains. I like the countryside, but there's a certain type of countryside that i find really oppressive. That is, very thick forest and very tall mountains. They block out the sun, trigger my anxiety and make me feel like there is an axe murderer hiding in every shadow. Yosemite? Yeah, fuck Yosemite. Fuck the mountains around Sichuan province too. I know, i know, they're pretty. There are awesome waterfalls. People come from all over the world to be humbled by the vistas. I'm glad i've seen them too, i guess? But i find it uncomfortable. I much prefer the desert, the plains, dunes and badlands and lonely peaks you can climb and see for miles.

So the hills in southern Guangxi were more to my taste. The undergrowth is not too dense. The trees are tall and slim and only have a little foliage. There's a little bamboo, not much. At ground level is scrub and prairie grass. There were so few people around that you could likely get lost in the hills and hollers quicksmart, but the empty space, the red earth and dusty evergreens gave it pleasant, welcoming feeling.

Well, right up until the rain.

At some point we dropped down into a more populated area, nearer to the coast and with more farms and villages. The sunny skies had turned gray, and drizzle appeared on the windows. The view outside got more colorful: purple rhododendron, red bottle bush, pink apple (?) blossom, yellow and red and salmon wildflowers curling around the roadside powerlines and fence posts.

The colors should have made me happy, but knowing my seaside holiday was going to be damp kinda bummed me out.

-o-

We pulled into a Beihai bus station about 10km from my hotel just as the skies really opened up. There is no subway in Beihai. The buses run with spectacular irregularity. I know it's a "small" town of only around a million people, but i have gotten used to Chinese public transport infrastructure shitting all over the rest of the world. Well, friends, Beihai felt like i was stuck somewhere in smalltown USA. Public transport is trash, taxis are virtually non-existent, and the ride touts wanted me to hop on the back of their gas-powered motorcycles. Yeah, Beihai is loud and stinky. The roads are wide. The buildings are a hundred miles away from each other. And the only way to get there is to burn fossil fuels like nobody's business. It actually made me physically ill.

And then, like the holy fucking grail, i spotted a single share bike. It wasn't a Mobike or ofo (the two big names in tier one cities), but i was able to use Alipay to unlock it. Zoom zoom zoom. I pedaled away from the touts, trying to take comfort in my eco-friendly superiority complex.

But, yeah, really i just got fucking wet.

It took me ages to find the hotel. The address on Booking.com was completely wrong. The address when i looked it up in another (local) app was also fairly unhelpful. I checked in, sad and bedraggled, dropped my bag and then went to search for food.

Because, you see, at this point night had fallen and i had only eaten a sticky bun all day.

I found a 重庆小面 place and chowed down gratefully on that spicy noodle. They even tossed in a tea egg for free, which normally i'd be like eh, no vegan no likey, but i was starving. And tea eggs taste pretty good in a spicy soup.

A bit further along i found a 老街 aka old street. Chinese old streets are a lot like European old towns - full of shambling tourists and stores selling overpriced tat. Unlike European old towns, most Chinese old streets are not old at all. Everything is brand new, but it's designed to look old. I actually don't mind that kind of whimsical architecture, but every now and then it's nice to see a real old street, and lordy - the Beihai old street delivered.



Of course, it's still full of stores selling useless shit. Mostly 越南特产 - Vietnamese specialities. Because, i guess, in the past Beihai took in a lot of ethnic Chinese Vietnamese refugees. In Nanning, the lingua franca is Mandarin - perhaps because they're at a meeting point of Zhuang, south-west Han, Cantonese Han and a smattering of other minorities. But people in Beihai speak a weird Cantonese/Vietnamese pidgin. It sounds like a North American chinatown.

Anyway, between all the Vietnamese trinkets and grilled seafood, i found a pub. There was no one there because it was Tuesday night and raining. Beihai is a domestic holiday destination and December is off-season. I didn't care, i wanted beer.

I sucked down a few and chatted a bit to the (Chinese) bar tender. Later on the owner showed up, which i suspect was deliberately arranged to give me someone to talk to. He was a Dutch retiree.

Normally i try to be a little more vague about the people i meet to protect their privacy, but in a town this small it's not really worth being coy. If you go, i guarantee you will find exactly the same pub i did and meet exactly the same guy.

We chatted a bit... and although he was a superficially friendly publican, it didn't surprise me when he started talking about how Europe has been overrun by Moroccans and Turks and Pakistanis and it's not safe for nice European women to walk around on their own any more.

I am so fucking tired of hearing racist tirades from European expats in China. They are literally the exact people i was trying to get away from after Brexit in the first place. I really don't understand how you can be an immigrant and be so anti-immigrant. Even more bizarre is when i specifically explain why i think Brexit was awful, and why i hate the growing nationalism in Europe, these guys think i am agreeing with them! Because in their minds it's not the white supremacists who are the oppressors, it's the swarms of brown people forcing their sharia law down the throats of innocent, open-minded Europeans.

I mean, i can't even.

Another person popped in a bit later on, an Austrian entrepreneur from Beijing who was looking at Beihai to open another branch of his school, but i was really done by this point. I biked home and went to sleep cold, wet and pissed off at the town.

-o-

Wednesday morning the weather had cleared a little bit, so i decided to take a ferry to Weizhou Island. It had been another slow morning where i detoured to Starbucks for a coffee and then hunted around for some breakfast that didn't suck. I grabbed a mushroom vege bao, then started biking toward the port. On the side of the road there was a lady selling roast sweet potato, so i grabbed one of those too and nibbled away at each red light.

By the time i got to the port my mood had improved considerably. I booked a ticket and then went a bit further down the road to the Roman ruins.

See, something about China, as well as building Chinese old towns, they also love to build Roman old towns and Greek old towns and fairytale castles. If you like Vegas, the themed neighborhoods of China will definitely delight you. But Beihai has accidentally taken it to the next level with a huge, unfinished Roman bath house right on the water front. Its run-down parking lot is ringed by overgrown statues and columns. It's amazing. It's like it went so far in the direction of fake that it came back around to authentic again.



After exploring the ruins, i paddled in the sea, took some photos of the fishing junks, then sat down under an umbrella and drank out of a coconut. Yes, finally, i was on holiday again.

Tags: ,

Monday, Shenzhen → Nanning
singapore sunset
amw
Mom always told me that before going on holiday you should clean. Sunday i wiped all the kitchen surfaces and scrubbed the floor too. I also swept the front/bed room. That felt like enough cleaning, so i picked up some supplies from Walmart, watched TV and flopped into bed.

Monday morning i made coffee and cooked myself a proper breakfast. I was up early but dawdled a bit because holiday, damnit. I started to regret that laziness on the subway when i realized i'd only make it to the station about 40 minutes before my scheduled departure.

The problem with traveling on Chinese railways as a foreigner is that you cannot just scan your ID and pick up the ticket - you must go to the counter to show your passport. And the lines at the ticket counter are always at least half an hour long. After you get the ticket, you still need to go through the standard passport/ID check and airport-style security to get into the departure hall. So, even if you booked your ticket on the internet, you need to arrive at least an hour in advance.

I didn't have an hour. After a couple of expats took pity on me and let me in front of them on the (very short) line for tickets on the new Hong Kong to Guangzhou line, i apologized profusely to the guy for being in the wrong line, got my tickets anyway and sprinted through security and to my platform.

I missed the train. By about 2 minutes. It was still in the station, but they close the platforms 5 minutes before departure time. It means the trains run like clockwork. It also means if you are a tiny bit late, the frustration is increased, as you watch other passengers at the bottom of the escalator sucking on their last smokes before jumping aboard.

Well, such is life. What surprised me was when i went to the change ticket line (back through security and another 30 minute wait), they nodded like this happens all the time and switched my ticket to a later train, no charge. I don't know if i got the foreigner special, but i guess if they overbook trains here like planes, this is all factored in.

-o-

Leaving the Pearl River Delta feels like popping out of Mega City One. Although the PRD has the odd mountain and rural vista, the skyscrapers and factories are always just there on the horizon.

At some point, though, it all gives way to acres of small-holds. Still very little is mechanized in Chinese agriculture. Harvest season is over, but there was still the occasional guy in a straw hat pottering about. You don't see much from the bullet train, just glimpses between the many tunnels.



Sometimes you see something really great.

-o-

I arrived in Nanning around sunset. They're a big enough city to have a subway, so i went through the familiar buy a token, security check, jam into a car ritual that will soon be my Shenzhen routine. After booking into my hotel i headed across the river to a nearby night market.

I was very hungry by this point, and was hoping to find some kind of Guangxi specialities, or at least a guy who could make me a properly spicy 凉面, something they struggle with in Shenzhen Luohu district. Unfortunately, although the night market was as fun as any other, the food was similar to every other too. Tentacles on sticks. Bugs in chili. Snail type things. Oysters. Stinky tofu. Bubble tea. Hotdogs. Fried chicken. Donuts. The lighting was nice, so i took a rare photo with people in it to capture the mood.



Eventually i found a guy serving something that i've both never tried before and also wanted to eat. He called it 茶, which means tea, but it looked more like soup. Into the soup was tossed a bunch of cereal like puffed rice and barley and crispy beans. It was bland, but very comforting. I picked up some soft spicy tofu afterwards then continued on into the city.

-o-

It turns out Nanning has a river running through it, and the city is developing it as a leisure space. On the south side there is a big park, but i didn't make it over there because i had more fun just walking along the north bank watching the light shows and listening to the music.



They were playing a weird mix of country and adult contemporary and 80s pop that would make no sense overseas, but in China it fits. There weren't many people about, being Monday, but there were a lot of 烧烤 (BBQ) and 大排档 (outdoor eating spots) open and blasting tunes or showing soccer on TV. I ducked into an empty one and ordered a beer, chattering now and then with the 老板 who was skewering stuff to grill later on.

After the break i decided to jump on a share bike and zoom around the city a bit. I set up some bars as checkpoints, but they turned out to be those late night karaoke spots where you need to buy six packs and go with friends, so i cycled back to the hotel and collapsed into a bed far bigger and more comfortable than my one at home.
Tags: ,

Fuck this, i'm going on holiday. 🌴🥥🍹
singapore sunset
amw
My last day of work was Thursday but - predictably - they had messed up my termination certificate in a way that meant my work permit wouldn't be transferable for several weeks. So i had to go back in again on Friday to sign the amended version. This kind of messed up my holiday plans, because i was thinking of taking Friday to relax, then Saturday starting my little jaunt around the PRD.

Did i tell you guys about that? I had an idea of taking a bike around the PRD: Shenzhen, Dongguan, Guangzhou, Foshan, Zhongshan, Zhuhai. Maybe have a look at Macau, then take the new bridge across to Hong Kong, eat a pork bun and come home. My original plan was to rent a bike, but then I started thinking how free it would feel to just ride a sharebike to the city limits, walk across to the next city, then get another sharebike over there. It would be a full-on urban adventure through mostly factories and skyscrapers with the odd mountain trail, but i think it would be cool.

Anyway, because my plans got messed on Friday, i needed to take Saturday to relax instead. I spent all day in pyjama pants playing computer games. I ordered in. I drank pineapple beer. Et cetera. Then... this morning it started to rain. Not the awesome South China rain where everything gets steamy and it looks like ninjas are going to flip out of the alleyways. The shitty European rain where it's cold and droopy and everything looks grim.

So i looked at the map and tried to figure out where to go instead. The band stretches along the coast from Hainan to Fujian, a giant horizontal middle finger across my plans to do anything in the PRD for the next week.

I'm engaging my backup option. Sit on the beach and get drunk. There are very few beaches in China, but I looked back at some of the destinations i had considered when i first came here and i remember Beihai being on the list. That's a coastal city of about a million in between Hainan and the Vietnam border. I think it's considered a bit of an armpit, but those are usually my favorite places to get drunk. The important thing is it's far enough west that the rain bands aren't there, and it has a beach, and an island, and bars.

There are buses that go there direct from Shenzhen, but i figured i would lazily take the high speed rail to Nanning and see if they have any good eats up there. If nothing else it'd be a chance to wander around another internationally unknown Chinese city, which i always enjoy.

I'm mostly worried about the timing. One day to get to Nanning. One day to Beihai. If i want to overnight on Weizhou island, that's another day. One or two days back. It seems like a viable agenda for this pitiful little week-long break - about half traveling and half eating/drinking/exploring. Unfortunately, I might need to sprint back to Shenzhen on Friday for more work permit shit. (That's why my original plan was to stay in the PRD and not go 500+ miles away.)

Honestly, I am almost ready to just throw up my hands and say fuck it. Let me have a week on holiday and I will deal with whatever bureaucracy next next Monday. I so very much need a tiny little moment of my life where I feel like I am free again.

Today I booked a ticket one way to Guangxi province. No hotels. No connecting bus. No plans besides arriving in Nanning. Maybe I will go to Beihai. Maybe I won't. Maybe I will go to the Vietnam border and wave at the tourists on their way to Ha Long Bay. Maybe I'll come back via Yangjiang, they have a beach too. Or go by Zhuhai, cross that new bridge and get a pork bun despite the rain. Sitting down in a Hong Kong pub does sound cozy. After 10 months chained to a desk I just want to have one week where I get to wander around aimlessly.

I really miss that. I miss just not having any plans and going wherever.
Tags:

a happy work update
singapore sunset
amw
Today i had my "first day" at the new gig. I popped into my new office while the CTO was in town so we could catch up face to face before i start in December (by which point he'll be back in the US).

You guys. I missed Americans.

My current company is French-owned. The entire executive team is French, and they are all based in France or Hong Kong, two places well-known for being more than a little snooty. I know national stereotypes are just that, but... there is some truth to them.

Lordy, what a breath of fresh air it was to walk into an office with a CTO straight out of Silicon Valley talking growth and disruption. It was so nice to not be the only person in the room calling some piece of tech "cool". Americans are nothing if not enthusiastic.

I saw some joke on LinkedIn a while back which was graphing the quality of a product against the way different people talk about it. The Silicon Valley guy's line immediately ramps up to "awesome", the English guy's line slowly trundles its way to "quite good", but the German guy's line just stays flat at the bottom - everything is scheiße.

Having worked with both Germans and French now, i think the Germans tend to say everything is shit because they want it to be better, whereas the French just enjoy being pessimistic.

The thing is, i realized after this current job that i want to be in a workplace where people try to lift each other up. I want that Silicon Valley culture of fun and feedback and praise. Or, at least, i want something closer to it than what i have now. Of course i'm at work to work, and the work is the point, but i kind of miss having guys in the office who are just fucking pumped about whatever it is we are doing. I miss being part of a team that cares.

So thank you, America, for being fucking pumped.

The CEO is an American who's been in China forever and knows how to run a company here. The local sales guy is a German who moved to China back when i was still in high school. Being a sales guy, he's rather un-German. They both have that grizzled expat look that reminds me a bit of my dad. The CTO is a bushy-tailed Stanford guy. Aside from HR there's only 3 other people in the company right now. It's about as startup as it gets.

My real first day will be in December. They are pushing hard to get me on as early as possible because right now the only other dev is a junior guy who doesn't speak great English and could probably use my guidance. I said i do want to take a break in between jobs - not least because i still need to organize my work permit status - but just coming in today, going through the onboarding deck and having lunch with the guys got me excited to see where it's going.

Of course all jobs are exciting to start with...

What's really neat is that it's located in one of the new areas. It's walking distance from SUSTech, which is a brand new research university aiming to be something like MIT. The area is being developed with more greenspace and outdoor dining than the Hong Kong-style developments in my neck of the woods. That makes me happy. I guess at some point it will be gentrified enough to support 27 Starbucks and a Louis Vuitton, but right now it still has plastic stool joints and laundry hanging in the alleyways and a Taiwan-style convenience store that sells cigarettes and betel nuts and real coffee for 5 kuai a cup.

The HR person apologized that the office is way out in the burbs, in a converted factory, next door to a KTV. I dunno. I think i will be okay taking the el train to an area where i can get coffee for under a buck, sit next to the creek at lunch and see some mountains around me. Also, there are bars.

So, you know, so far so good.

🤖
Tags:

in happier news...
singapore sunset
amw
Not sleeping last night kind of ruined my Singles Day morning.

[Just a reminder for those who didn't read my journal last year - 光棍节 means "bare stick festival", which is the anti-Valentines Day. "Bare stick" is a slang term for a single person, and the number 1 looks like a bare stick, so Singles Day is celebrated on 11-11 each year. I think it's brilliant.]

I decided to spend all day being the best single i could be. I didn't have a shower. I watched wrestling. I played computer games. I ate breakfast at noon. I am not wearing any pants. I have no food left in the fridge but fuck it, i'm ordering in from the Buddhist place. Gonna get me some guilt-free Sichuan spicy fish and Hong Kong char siu, plus black bean bitter melon and steamed rice. I will put pants on to answer the door, and then i shall remove them again and gorge myself.

Also, because Singles Day is also the biggest retail day of the year, i bought a new phone. The screen on my current phone has been smashed for months and any time the weather gets a little humid the ghost in the crack keeps touching "back" which is rather annoying. Also, i can only read articles on the top half. I don't really care about having a smashed phone, but at 20% off (or 8折 as they say here) it seems like a good time to buy. I'm sticking with 红米, the Xiaomi budget line. The 4X was a tough little phone and cheap as chips; I trust the 6 will be more of the same.

Now i will do some flash cards while i wait for my strapping young delivery guy.

i am a zombie.
singapore sunset
amw
It's fucking 6am Sunday morning and i have been tossing and turning unable to sleep for hours because i am stressed out about work.

You know what the worst part is? I quit my job 6 days ago.

But, you know, 30 days notice so here i am.

I should be stressed out about immigration. Because of the timing of my resignation, i have an extremely small window to transfer my work permit from this employer to my future employer and then extend my resident permit before it expires. My current company is doing nothing to make the process easier. I am used to HR trying to make people's exit as smooth as possible to avoid the company getting a bad reputation, but it seems the HR director here does not give a shit. The request to move up my work permit transfer date was denied.

So i might find myself stuck in December with a new job but no permission to work. And then i might be forced to leave the country again, and apply for a work visa from Canada, again. Which is of course completely insane because i live in China, i don't live in Canada. But that's the deal. Unless you have a Chinese spouse, you will only ever be considered a temporary visitor here. Every year you have to renew both your work permit and your resident permit. If you get fired, you have to leave the country. If you quit, you have to leave the country. If you try to switch jobs close to the renewal date, you are fucked. Want to take time off for a break between jobs? You have to leave the country and start over from scratch. Sigh.

Anyway, immigration is not what this post is about, it's about work. A few weeks ago i was selected to be the main developer on some new project: rebranding our app. Yes, our company is changing its name. Of course, this project was not given to an existing team. For some reason that i still don't understand, it was a task force sliced out of several different teams. But we are not a co-located task force and there are no daily status meetings. Although, i am not sure that even having a daily meeting would help because the product/project manager is completely fucking useless.

I told the (former) CTO after my probation period that i do not like working on these big, poorly-defined projects. But what i really didn't like was working under a product/project/people manager who was hopeless in all three roles. And yes, that's two too many slashes. I subsequently got moved to a team that was handling customer escalations and fixing small bugs, which had its own issues, but for the most part it was a relatively painless role.

But now, here i am, back on some big project, under a product/project (still one too many slashes) manager who is hopeless. He does not respond to any of the questions i need answered. He does not set achievable goals. He does not try to limit the scope of the work. He does not prioritize anything. He just holds meetings and then rambles on about how people who are not on the meeting haven't given him any answers yet.

DUDE. It's the goddamn fucking job of a product manager to go out and get the answers! That's the whole job! I don't need to spend an hour sitting down with a product manager hearing them complain about how they can't get answers!

Oh, and get this. At the start of the project he complained that he didn't have enough data to make any decisions, so i spent a week collecting metrics and writing up reports and then... nothing. I know he hasn't read any of the content that i prepared specifically for him because he still asks me questions that i already documented, and he acts shocked when i remind him of an impediment that i already pointed out weeks ago. Like, if you are not reading this content and using it to make decisions, then why the fuck did i spend so much time preparing it?

And, like. I am a fucking software developer, not a technical writer or a business analyst. Writing wiki pages is not really the best use of my time in the first place.

The most frustrating part is that this exact rant could be copy/pasted from the same goddamn experience i was having before i switched to a team where i didn't have to put up with any of this nonsense.

Oh, and here's a cherry on the shit sundae. The PM on this project actually spends a lot of time bitching about my former PM and how incompetent she is. And i am just like, dude. You are both fucking incompetent. You both suck in exactly the same way. You will both drive away talented developers because you spend more time complaining about why you can't do your job than actually doing your job.

See, this is the thing about my work rants. They are here in LiveJournal, or occasionally at after work drinks. When i am in the office i just shut up and do my fucking job, because i am a professional. For sure, i share my impediments and make my feelings clear to my manager, in the optimistic hope that they will try to solve the problems, but then i put my head down and do my best to produce some kind of output in spite of it all. That's what you have to do. You're at work. Fucking work.

Of course, i am human too. There are times when i am particularly frustrated and i lose my temper. It's something i try really hard to limit because i know it creates a toxic environment for the people around me. I don't want to work in a place like that. I thought nobody did. But people like this current PM and my former PM, they don't care. In fact, they actively consider losing their temper a strategy to solve problems.

I was stunned the other day after i shared that QA is experiencing a problem of missing files on the test environment because a previous download from the production environment must have failed. Instead of the PM noting this down and having a quiet word with the necessary parties to get the problem fixed, he told the QA person to email an ops guy and then put him in the CC "so i can scream at him when he doesn't do it". Like, what the fuck kind of attitude is that? Why would i want to work with a person who thinks it's okay to behave like that in a professional environment?

You know, as much as that whole "work should be FUN!" thing can get a bit grating, at least it's not deliberately toxic. The HR teams who push that kind of company culture are at least trying to get people to fake it till they make it. Fuck all those assholes who think it's okay to be an asshole at work. It's not fucking okay.

Fuck, i dunno. Why should i care? I took all the leave that i was still due and shoved it up against my official leaving date so my last day will be November 22. Man, i got less than 10 business days left in the office. Why should i care about this project that i know i won't get done anyway?

I don't know. I don't know why i care. Why i woke up after only 4 hours of sleep and kept going over it all in my head.

This fucking shit destroys me. The other shit, the shit of dealing with mediocre colleagues and a generally uninspiring work life, that was mildly irritating and enough to make me quit. But this kind of stress? Fuck this. Really, fuck this.

I am so tired and i need to cry.

Happy Singles Day.