L’enfer, c’est les stupide de personnes

I have a customer.  He wanted me to hold his hand while he tried some fairly complex SQL code on his own.  When it became evident that he was never going to take the time to learn the db he was taking the data from (and was thereby failing), I told him I could do the work myself as a billable service or he could be on his own.

He chose to accept my work as a billable service.  Fine.

It has since become clear that, if he knows what he wants, he doesn’t wish to tell me.  I have finally resorted to, over and over, asking him to please give me about three mocked-up records from his hypothetical output to demonstrate what he is looking for.  In answer to this (three times so far today) he keeps sending me the code he was working with when he admitted that he didn’t know what he was doing.

How can he possibly believe that offering me code that DOESN’T DO WHAT HE WANTS IT TO DO is going to help me produce code that does?

I think he doesn’t know what he wants, and is afraid to admit it.  I can’t explain his behavior any other way.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

Sisyphus gets an hourly wage

I have been pulled from my duties, many times, by the CEO to create poster-sized Excel spreadsheets showing in graphic technocolor glory the story of a trio of Jobs Gone Awry. He will, in theory, take these posters to court and use them as an instrument to sue the socks off the errant customer.

We keep revising them. Over. And. Over.

And Over.

Each revision has been adding more detail. It started with RFI documents, as-planned dates, and as-built dates. It added in subcontractor documents, correspondence, submittals, release dates…. The last revision called for me to append to each labelled detail (RFI #14) a short explanation of what it implied (Discussion of wombats undermining widget framework footings; ledgedancing subflooring not stuccato enough). For everything. And, in eight hours of focused frenzy, I have done just that, printed out the results, and took them to The Man for review.

“What,” he asked me, pointing to several dots, “is that?”

“Correspondence. Release dates. Submittals. Subcontractor paperwork.”

“Oh. We don’t need that. Delete it and let’s look at what we have left.”

The room became very far away, and all sound but the steadily rising muffled thunder of pulsing blood became a hint of whispering ghosts. My body moved as through crystalline taffy, recording for history a firm, confident smile, a sweep of documents into neat piles, tapped even and paperclipped, and something very like my voice asserted that new documents would be forthcoming.

And I was back in my office. Even my outrage is very far from me. I’m waiting for my pulse to settle before I continue.

Then I’ll roll that beastly rock up the hill again.