I woke up to a rainstorm but by the time i dragged myself out of bed after noon, the ground was dry and the sun was teasing the odd ray. I went up to a nearby Starbucks, which is still the only convenient place i have found to buy bags of real coffee beans, then went next door for a 凉粉 (liáng fěn). Depending what part of China you are from, 凉粉 can mean a spicy mung bean jelly noodle, or a bowl of grass jelly, or (in this case) a clear mystery jelly topped with dragonfruit and raisins and peanuts and 山楂 (shān zhā) hawthorn and sugar syrup.
On the way back to the grocery store i decided to climb the closest mountain to my house. It's only about a 10 minute walk, barely even a hill. It's interesting because the peak is lower than some of the buildings in the neighborhood, so you don't really notice it's there from street level. Still, it gives you enough perspective to look around and imagine what this place would have been like 30 years ago before all the highrises went up. Creek, lake, trees, just some foothills between Tanglang and Yangtai mountains.
The news this week has been showing pictures of Hong Kong's Yuen Long suburb. That's what my hood looks like too, which is why the protests and beatings there feel closer to home than the stuff happening down in Central.
I kept seeing phantom spiders in the forest. Some light post-traumatic flashbacks to walking through that web the other week. The signs saying "beware of snakes" didn't help.
Anyway, yeah. Today's weather. The thunder has been rolling for several hours. Every now and then there is a cool gust of wind. Otherwise it's oppressively hot and humid. The clouds are brimming with water and spilling over occasionally, but it's not quite raining.
I love it.
It's like those moments when you are on the edge of something, but it's not happening. Hypomania feels this way. I miss that feeling. So do drugs, in that dizzying yawn before they kick in. Or when you are about to take a bus to somewhere you never went before. Anything could happen. The anticipation is everything. The destination is never as good.
Work is work. There are a lot of frustrating things about it. My line manager is alright but middle management and the head of our department are both hopeless. I suspected this going in and it's why i made the choice to join a different department, but due to internal politics i somehow ended up in this one anyway. Oh well. It's work.
Every now and then i get a reminder that no matter how bad it gets here, the last job was worse.
A few weeks back i went out with C. He sent me a message saying he wanted to meet me in person to talk about "something that isn't gay stuff". (He is still mostly closeted, single and unsure of how to meet men. I am the only LGBT person he knows.)
He told me that when he quit the last company, he went on to once again work with S, the useless architect who had been fired for incompetence. C knew that i considered S a complete shyster with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The guy knew very little about tech, he was supremely arrogant, and he treated everyone around him like garbage. So C was embarrassed to tell me that they had been working together again.
But it turns out the past few months have been a disaster. S managed to find a company owned by some local bigwig with a fist full of fat government contracts and no software team. S promised the world, but (once again) barely coded anything and threw together a shoddy system with ancient technology that he got two juniors to build for him. He also used the juniors to translate for him, because he can't speak any Chinese. How the fuck did he get the job? Fuck. Welcome to China, where in certain circles hiring an expensive foreign mascot can still make your company seem more prestigious.
Anyway, C also admitted that while we were all still working at the same company, S kept C and the two other juniors late after work until i left, then set up a private meeting with them to say that i was a lazy moron who knew nothing at all. C explained that for weeks they had a private WeChat group where S ridiculed everything i did in the office, and where he told them that in the senior dev meetings i had been abusing them behind their backs. (Not true.) Get this. The group was called "[CompanyName] Friends". S played up their good friendship and cast me as some kind of vindictive, two-faced bitch.
Like, i can't even. I had no idea any of this was going on, and perhaps it explains why some of them were reluctant to accept my feedback and coaching even after S had been fired.
Anyway, C said at the time he felt caught in the middle because he thought we were both good engineers. But after working together for three months he started to realize that S has no idea what he is doing. S bamboozles everyone around him with jargon and nonsense to cover up the fact he is incompetent, and everyone just goes along with it. It's infuriating to me that people don't instantly see through his charade, but what can you do? They have to figure it out for themselves.
I would have been fine for the story to end there, but it didn't. Because a month or two ago, S just disappeared. Like. Completely. He told the boss he needed to do a visa thing and then there was radio silence. No WeChat. No email. No phone calls. Nothing. C explained that he started getting worried, and that even though he had realized S was an incompetent engineer, he still considered him a friend. After weeks of not responding to daily texts, S finally replied that he was in the hospital with a heart condition and that's why he couldn't come back to work.
Note that this heart condition story was what he told C. The owner of the company had still received no contact at all. Meanwhile both C and the other junior engineer were just showing up to the office for 10 hours a day, then going home. Not doing a jot of work but still getting paid, which is something that happens in depressingly too many companies (especially in China). Without S to boss the guys around... nobody did anything. And that started driving C nuts.
So just before our dinner, C checked in on LinkedIn and lo and behold S is now miraculously cured of his heart condition. He is working another job at another company, once again as a "senior software architect". C finally broke down and - against the astoundingly poor advice of his fellow junior engineer - spoke to the big boss about the situation, since presumably S was now collecting two paychecks, one of them for a job he hadn't shown up to for months.
Hearing the story basically confirmed every suspicion i had about S from the first day i met him. Poor C was crushed that his "friend" had betrayed him - and their company - so shamelessly. I didn't say "i told you so". I tried to perk C up by saying this was an opportunity, because now even though he is a junior he gets the chance to build a system from the ground up at his new employer, to really take ownership and learn some stuff. I'm not sure he's mature or independent enough to make the most of it, though.
Anyway, so that's the story of S.
Meanwhile my other colleague L - who is still working at the old place - this week shared that she is shut out of meetings while the male employees with more years of experience but far less technical skill plan the new architecture. The other day a colleague yelled and screamed at her for having a different opinion on how to build the system and now the new CTO is saying to everyone that she isn't able to follow instructions and that she is a troublemaker. I am trying to point out that she is being gaslighted because her opinion was correct, and that even if her opinion had been incorrect there is never an excuse to yell at colleagues or for managers to publicly humiliate their staff... It's exactly the same toxic shit that made me sick working there. But L feels like she has no other options because she comes from a poor village and did not go to a prestigious university and she's a woman so no one will ever take her seriously anyway.
I really hope i can get through to her that she's better than that. She deserves to work at a company that will help build her into the kickass dev i know she can be. She is already better than everyone else working at that dump.
C deserves better than he got too.
It seems Shenzhen can be a city of shattered dreams for young Chinese guys who busted their ass through school but didn't have the money and connections or the luck to land a position at a job where they aren't treated like shit.
What makes me really mad is that so many shitheads and sociopaths are making bank on the backs of the people who work hard and get nothing. And then i realize the current top dogs in the UK and America are exactly that too. So, basically, the whole world is fucked.