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Finally fired after 6 years (reddit.com)
41 points by silkodyssey on June 6, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 32 comments

This is blogspam of a Reddit post. Original post: https://www.reddit.com/r/cscareerquestions/comments/4km3yc/f...

They fired the only guy who automated all his tasks, and did it so well nobody noticed for 6 years. They are idiots. They should have assigned him to automate the hell out of everybody else's tasks and gain tons of additional work-hours for free. This reminds me of that guy several years back who outsourced all his tasks to China and was employee of the month again and again. They also found out via IT dept, checking his strange VPN traffic. And again, fired the one guy who would be a perfect Outsource Lead. Oh well, the bots are coming, automation will rule them all, and those companies who are devoted to lines of code and employee keystrokes... Well, they will become obsolete.

I've heard that factories will rotate lazy people around the factory floor because the method that requires the least amount of effort to achieve the needed result. Then the company can teach the lazy person's method to their less lazy/less creative employees.

Perhaps the story is apocryphal, but I think there is a grain of truth in the story. Managed properly, laziness can benefit the company. The problem you run in to is that lazy individuals are difficult to manage properly. A company isn't going to realize the benefits from a lazy individual if they aren't permitted to find their own solution to problems, and the shortcuts lazy individuals take can be dangerous depending on what shortcuts they are taking.

I wouldn't want to work for a company that is willing to fire someone for not doing anything for six years because you wrote a script that did basically everything. It implies they value the effort pertaining to my work rather than the actual output, which is insane. That just reeks of terrible management.

That being said, I don't want to imply that all lazy people make great employees. I've definitely worked with people who were just completely unwilling to do anything but the bare minimum, if they did any work at all. I don't think individuals who actively avoid all work without coming up with an alternative are of much use to any organization.

I heard there are four types of people who work for you. In order (from most preferred to least preferred) are:

1) The smart and lazy---they'll find the easiest way to do the job (or automate it).

2) The dumb and hardworking---you an tell them what to do and they'll do it exactly how you tell them to.

3) The dumb and lazy---they won't help, but they won't necessarily hurt either (just the bottom line).

4) The smart and the hardworking---terrible combination.

I actually have experience with the fourth type of person. Twenty years ago I was doing some consulting work for a bank and had to convert a printed training manual into HTML (mid 90s). The person helping me was very smart and hardworking. I'm smart, but a bit lazy. I had to argue with the person not to dive into one process (linking each word in the text to an entry on the glossary page) because it would take hours to do by hand (around 100 files, perhaps 100 vocabulary words). We actually argued longer than I took for me to code up the solution (using lex---we were working on a Unix system).

This is attributed to Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord, a German general in WW1 and WW2.


Heh. Funny that it's a different order, but the smart and lazy are still at the top.

I'm definitely smart and lazy. My previous manager was very smart and very hardworking. It was a hilarious nightmare. We both really liked each other as people, and respected each other's work, but our work styles were so completely at odds. Once she knew how to do something, she absolutely did not want to change how that process worked. On the other hand, I would change a process because I figured out a way to cut 15 minutes off a weeks worth of work.

There's a running joke at work that under no circumstances should someone complain to me about a problem, because I will drop everything to discover the cause of the problem, and then 2 days later the entire process will be rewritten. Everyone else thinks I'm working myself to the bone, but I'm rewriting processes that used to take several days to complete so they only take a couple of hours, and the computer does most of the work without input. In my mind its perfectly lazy, because it means I don't have to walk anyone through the procedure or fix any problems caused by humans gumming up the works.

Plus, it feels so good to say "What does the text next to the button say?" When someone calls to ask what they should do next.

I have a theory that most programmers are lazy, because a certain kind of lazy person goes "I'm sure there is a better way of doing this." and then that person goes on to figure out how. The only problem is that sometimes that type of person can get sucked into learning a new framework when they could have used the less efficient framework in the first place and already have been done.

I think this is on the management as much as the employee. I'd hope employees look for more work to do as opposed to just taking a paycheck.

Instead of asking what else he can do, or provide more value or grow into more responsibility, he sat on his hands and played League all day?

I'm disappointed it took them 6 years to act on it.

Well he was 22 at the time, so that makes a bit more sense.

Honestly I've had times on one of my jobs where I just had to kill time all day and I hated it. It's one of the reason I later decided to leave.

We've all had times where we're not fully invested in our work. Sometimes even weeks, maybe months in extreme circumstances. 6 years is absurdly bad. I can't imagine the management getting off lightly here either.

Either his manager needs some serious training (or a new job) or he just fell through the cracks and ended up in a position where no one was in charge of him and no one realized it.

I feel mostly sorry, not jealous for this guy. Even though he plays it cool, I'm sure he lived in constant fear of being discovered for six years and being speechless any questioning.

Plus.. I actually enjoy coding. I wouldn't even want to automate my job. I know that in the past I've wanted ways to escape working, but now that I'm a developer I couldn't imagine finding ways not to work (I guess except for browsing HN)

if he did nothing but play league of legends for 6 years how good is he at it?


Does he play, or does he just write bots to play for him?

Dude has 200k in the bank. If he's found motivation, he can just do a masters course. That will teach him a few things and get him back in the coding saddle, and give a plausible reason for why he's looking for work afterwards.

What's scary is the people who actually have been coding for several years and still don't know how to do it. No version control, no idea what common patterns are, ridiculously complex spaghetti code. We all know them.

Why the hell didn't he freelance or try to start a small business on the side. He could have made double or triple the money!

Also, I wonder how IT eventually found out.

You may have missed the part about him being lazy.

I find it hard to be sympathetic. Why is he sad? 6 years of playing video games on someone else's dollar is fantastic. Be glad it lasted more than 3 months. People who slog away for 50-60 hours a week on drudge work still find time for self-improvement. If you want to get kudos for automating your job away, tell your boss and their boss. That's how you get promoted.

I'm not sure if I should ask this - but any guesses on which company OP was working for?

"I got a job at a company in the Bay Area, CA that was completely unknown 7 years ago but is now incredibly well known. It is actually quite hard to get a job here now, from what I hear."

I'm not from the Bay Area, so I can't think of a company (other than Facebook) that fits that profile.

I consider myself smart and lazy as well. Cut down the time required by predecessor to do the work from 8hrs to 2hrs. But was lucky my boss realized that as well gave me more responsibilities and a promotion few months into the job. Though we have regular arguments about me streamlining other peoples work as she does want to change herself.

I guess the biggest question here is - does OP even want to be a programmer? Maybe they'd rather do something else in life.. but e.g. for me, it's been my goal of the past two years (which I'm finally s/realizing/achieving/)

If he can automate his work, milk it for the weekly paycheck, and do it well enough to stay around for six years, more power to him. He made his laziness pay off.

Least amount of non-automated work for the most amount of pay off, I respect it.

"Now we had a chance to meet this young man, and boy that's just a straight shooter with upper management written all over him."

> doing Quality Assurance work

So I am guessing if he was actually a developer to begin with his job would have been a bit harder to automate.

Speaking as a QA Engineer myself, QA is as rigorous and important to the software lifecycle as development.

The continual disrespect for QA engineers is somewhat frustrating.

The point I was making is you don't become a tennis player by kicking a football.

From the Reddit post:

> I got a job as a software developer working mostly on testing software, so mostly QA work. However I actually had to write some code as well. After around 8 months I had basically automated my own job by writing some programs to do it all for me.

It certainly doesn't look like a manual QA job.

The part that surprises me is that the tests didn't change for six years. Surely after 6 years something about a codebase changes (the build infrastructure changes, a new platform shows up, the API changes, etc.) that even black-box testing would have to adapt. Did the company not care that much about the accuracy of the tests?

This sounds like a management issue more than anything else. The guy screwed up, but how did no one catch on for 6 years? How did he not have someone managing him making sure he had enough work?

Seems like he 'fell through the cracks' of startup culture. The company grew so fast that he was just there and no one questioned it after a while and no one was in charge of him.

Or someone was and they need retraining/firing.

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