May 19th, 2020

mom walk

is it big companies or is it just companies?

I am so fucking over my job.

I am so fucking over working at big companies.

As the only person in Shenzhen who has a combination of deep technical knowledge and the ability to speak reasonable Chinese and fluent English, i am pulled into all kinds of projects to be the designated translator for engineers who can barely speak a word of English and are trying to collaborate with teams in Europe who - despite also being full of non-native English speakers - actually do speak English as their business language.

This quarter we have an OKR (some kind of top-level company objective which is linked to cascading objectives down the org chart) to implement a new feature in our product which will improve the accuracy of the results and raise revenue by whatever percent. The industry my company is in is travel-related, which basically means our revenue has been completely and utterly the fuck decimated by coronavirus. Every single metric is in the toilet. Our partners are going bust. Our revenue has cratered. We will never hit our targets. It will take years to get back to where we were in January 2020.

But leadership still wants this feature, because of course they do. Meanwhile a significant chunk of the European staff has been furloughed or gone down to 3 or 4 days a week. Only a handful of people in China have gone to 4 days. Which means we are the office that is executing a bunch of the work, except now on top of the timezone and language barrier problems we already had, there are now even less people to "pick up the phone" in Europe, and even slimmer windows of opportunity to align properly on our goals.

This particular accuracy project was a major clusterfuck from the beginning, because to implement it properly we need to rebuild a huge part of our stack across three different departments. There were no resources available to reimplement the huge part of our stack even if there hadn't been corona, but now there really isn't.

Fortunately i am not a part of the project.

Unfortunately due to being designated translator i keep getting pulled into it. My role is to mediate and settle discussions and do "meeting after the meeting" in Chinese so the Chinese team know what the European team was talking about in English. But i don't have the context, and every time i ask someone to explain the context, no one can give that context, because everyone is talking from the point of view of their own team. There is no leadership over the whole project except for executive leadership who just know about the OKR and don't understand the technical details.

Yesterday i was in work till almost 9pm talking about shit, today i was in work till almost 9pm talking about shit, and still we are coming out of this with an awful Frankenstein solution that fucking sucks. Finally today i figured out exactly what the feature is that we are building - after months of being pulled into these aimless, soul-destroying discussions about specifics. I know i could've done a much better job mediating over the past few weeks if someone had just explained to me in one fucking sentence what the literal one fucking sentence description of the feature was, but no one ever did that.

So now i am finally equipped to deal with this thing, but i was never supposed to even be involved in it. My own team has its own totally separate OKR to work on, and we have plenty of our own problems getting that done.

The sad part is that, from management side, i keep getting told that it's good for my career to be involved in all these different projects and it's exactly what i need to be doing to get a promotion. We have Google-style promotions here where you need to be nominated by two different people from different departments and make a case and show evidence that you are already doing the work. Except... i don't want a fucking promotion!

I definitely don't need the money. I don't need the résumé fodder. I have bounced up and down from senior engineer to line manager over the past 10 years and i have no interest in going into middle management because it just increases the work that i don't enjoy. Budgeting. Staffing. Politics. I have no interest in becoming a principal engineer or "architect" either - jamming arbitrary technologies down the throats of line engineers who know far better what their problems are than these ivory tower douchebags. It's all about influence and persuasion and scratching people's backs and trying to build your own castle and whatever man, i'm glad there are people who like to do that stuff but i fucking hate it.

So why am i bothering? I don't want to be involved in any of this shit. I don't want to be pulled into the middle of arguments between people who don't speak the same language or even live in the same country. Fuck, that's the kind of stuff i could do if i worked at the UN and at least if i worked at the UN i'd feel like i was contributing to the betterment of human society. I don't want to be introduced as a so-called "expert" on a feature that i don't even understand what it is until months after i was getting dragged into random conversations about the nitty gritty. And anyway i already decided i wanted to quit this company after my ass got fucking reprimanded for pointing out that some YouTube fake news a colleague posted was Party propaganda.

I am literally only still working at this job right now because i have no choice. I either keep working here and stay in China until other countries open their borders, or i quit and i have to go back to a passport country where i don't have a house or a support network and where corona is still running wild.

So. Fuck.

I am so over my job.

And, yes, to my favorite Norway-based commenter who said that going down to 4 days a week just meant stuffing my 40+ hour weeks into 4 days instead of 5, while only getting paid for 4, you were totally right.

Fuck!

I think i will call in sick tomorrow.