At the age of eighteen, David James Starling decided to end his life. He was at such a low that his self-loathing prevented him from choosing a quick and painless death, so like a commuter not prepared to jump in front of the all stations train, he waited patiently for the express.
He thought long and hard about the best way to die, and in the end, he settled on a career in Corporate IT. A slow and painful death, yes, that was what he deserved.
In order to maximise the suffering, Dave decided to try to get through his entire, and hopefully short, career/life without learning anything about technology. He hoped that when finally exposed as a charlatan, the public humiliation would provide the perfect crescendo to his painful and long drawn out suicide. To that end he chose to study biology at university. Partly in the hope that a more practical method of self-elimination would become apparent, and partly as further punishment, since biology was the only thing in life that he actually took any pleasure from. You might wonder how a degree in science would open the door to a career in IT, but that is easy. They will take anyone.
Keen to extend his self-loathing to the wider community, Dave joined a bank.
At twenty-three, Dave decided to step things up and simultaneously also tried to kill himself with alcohol. Although he knew that corporate IT would get him first, he felt it added to the risks and dangers of trying to hold down a job, despite others telling him that it was just an occupational hazard.
Throughout his twenties, his plan was on track. He put on weight, his blood pressure was dangerously high, and his stress levels meant that he was now as statistically likely to die from a heart attack as someone who was actually having a heart attack. His hair was a concern, his lack of exercise clearly showed, and the fact he had no social life outside work meant he would probably stay single for the rest of his short, sad life. He was still committed to his suicide scheme, and it was working.
At thirty-two it finally happened. Dave reached a new level in his plan. They made him an IT Manager.
This is his story.
“Ok Dave, I’ve got some great news for you.”
Dave turned his head sideways, like a parrot, and carefully inspected the man sitting opposite him in the small meeting room. The man was Flux Larson, Dave’s boss for the last two years and an all-round decent bloke, however, something about the way he was prefacing this ‘great news’ made the hairs on the back of Dave’s neck stand up.
“Ok. I’m listening.”
“Congratulations. We are promoting you to manage the team.”
“Oh fuck, why?”
“You are the best developer that we have. You are a natural leader and the rest of the team respect you.”
“Can I say no?”
“Of course you can… if that is how you feel about it.”
“Will there be consequences if I say no?”
“We’ll sack you. Not for saying no obviously, we’ll find some other reason to get rid of you, but I’d give you three months tops.”
“Alright then, I’ll do it.”
“Good man! Well done.”
“It’s not that I want to do it, it’s just that I don’t want to get sacked and I could really use the extra money.”
“Well this is more of a prestige promotion than an actual cash promotion. But don’t worry the cash will come later, I’m sure.”
Dave thought it was time to return his head to the full vertical position.
“Prestige it is then. So, I’ll be the Manager of the Cloud Innovations (non-core) Team. That has a certain ring to it.”
“Well, not actually manager, that’s still my job, you’ll be more like the team leader.”
“Doesn’t the manager lead the team?”
“It’s complicated. You’ll find that, as you climb the greasy pole. Management is a many facetted beast.”
“So if I don’t get any more money, and I don’t get a new job title, what is actually going to change?”
“Your email signature. That’s about it. Plus, you get to boss everyone else in the team around, so that should be nice.” Flux added some strange marching arms to this news which made it seem even weirder.
“I have to admit to feeling slightly underwhelmed by this ‘great news’. What will my new email signature say?”
“Dave Starling, that bit stays the same, and then something like ‘Team Leader – Cloud Innovations (non-core) Team’.”
“Ok, well I’ll take what I can get. I’ll go and change it now.”
“Oh, don’t do that. I’ll have to clear it with Brenda first.”
“You haven’t discussed this with your boss yet?”
“I mentioned it to her at our last catch up. Well the last one that we actually had. I’m not sure if she heard me, she was busy typing on her laptop, but I definitely said it. I remember being so happy that she had finally turned up to a catch up and remembered my name. Also this time she didn’t spend the whole thirty minutes on the phone to one of her peers doing that fake laugh.”
“The one she uses when she talks to someone she obviously hates?”
“Yes, that one.”
Dave paused briefly to take in the situation before continuing. “Now that I’m heading down the management path, I know I’ll get lots of training…”
Flux burst out laughing and then said, “Oh, sorry, carry on.” and waved his hand for Dave to finish.
“I know I’ll get lots of training and will end up fully understanding IT Management, but there is one question that I wanted to ask first.”
“What does Brenda actually do?”
Flux paused for a second. “Fucked if I know. Meetings and shit I suppose. She is always very busy.”
“Yeah but when you are busy, isn’t there a point at which you have completed what you are busy on and there is something to show for it?”
“You’d think so, wouldn’t you? Doesn’t seem to work that way. Busy, busy, busy. Goes off to one of her many offsites or branch visits or even two weeks holiday and it doesn’t seem to make a fuck of difference.”
Dave was not particularly sure how managers should behave, he had only been one for the last couple of minutes and it didn’t sound like that was even guaranteed yet, but he was pretty sure you were supposed to provide some verification for those below you, that whatever management might actually be about, it did serve some sort of purpose.
Dave tried to be positive. He broke the Fourth Wall and bypassed the author to talk directly to the reader “Well, if this blog does okay.” he smiled, “Maybe there will be a sequel where I am a senior manager and I can find out what they do?”
Flux interrupted him. “Not much chance of that. Everything else he’s written has been complete crap.”
Dave looked disappointed (not as disappointed as me, but still pretty glum). “So, in summary. I get to do your job for you (no, I won’t ask what you are going to do) and I don’t get paid more but I do get to add two words to my email signature. Is that it?”
“It’s a shit sandwich Dave, with no ketchup, but that’s how we all get started in management.”
“What does everyone else in the team think about it?”
“They will be fine.”
“They don’t know do they?”
“Well I’m sure they can all see it coming.”
Dave looked out of the meeting room window to where the rest of the team sat. Resplendent in tee shirts and jeans, with coffee cups everywhere and a bunch of sticky notes stuck on a wall. Dave watched a man in an XXXXL tee shirt who was eating a banana. He bit into the banana while staring at his screen and then stopped, transfixed by what he was seeing and with the banana half bitten in his mouth. He looked like he would never move again and as Dave stared in wonder at the evolution of the first single-tasking human, he saw one of the sticky notes fall from the wall.
Dave looked at the scene and then looked back at Flux.
“Fair point.” said Flux, “I’ll talk to them about it.”
And that is how David James Starling became an IT Manager.