The Setup

Bringing up a screen, I said, “This is the all-important master list of applications the Virginia and Pennsylvania teams have developed, and which we still care about because they’re still in use or will be. This is the central piece. Any time we’re tracking metrics or status, we are doing so against items in this list.”

“Wait a minute,” said CTO Kaede, leaning forward, “why do you have a duplicate list of apps?”

I cocked an eyebrow. “I don’t. This is the only one.”

“No, it’s not,” said Cory, the Director of Engineering. “Chuck and I have been developing a similar app to register all web pages against.”

“Since when?” I asked, frowning. They had been in all of my meetings about this, and my project had started on Cory’s first day a month back. If they started another app that duplicated what I was doing, by definition, it started after mine.

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Randy,” Kaede started, “it’s unacceptable for you to be duplicating their effort. It’s bad enough that your estimate for this project was off, but now you’re wasting time.”

Chuck snickered, adding to my irritation.

“I’m not the one duplicating effort,” I said.

“Yes, you are,” said Cory.

“Oh really? On your very first day at this job, I presented this project to Kaede in front of you. It included a requirements document and designs of screens that included this one. You and Chuck both knew about it, and you are both in every meeting I’ve had about this. You have not invited me to any meeting for any of your projects, and this is the first I’ve heard about it. Even if you and Chuck dreamed up whatever you’re doing after the meeting on your first day, it was still after I started this, and you’re the one duplicating effort.”

“Randy,” started Kaede again, “it doesn’t matter.”

I looked him in the eye, rather coldly, I would imagine. “Well, it sure sounded like it mattered when you were blaming the situation on me a minute ago.” I avoided pointing out that, now that I had proven this was Cory’s and Chuck’s fault, it supposedly didn’t matter anymore. That really pissed me off.

He frowned. “The two of you will have to hash this out. I only want one list. Move on.”

Not failing to notice Chuck grinning, I continued showing the other parts of the app that were in progress. The way development works, coders lay out the screen before writing the code that is triggered when a user interacts with it, so in some cases, the screens were visible but if I clicked on certain things, nothing happened because I hadn’t written the code yet. But they could see how it should work, or if not, I explained it. When I got the metrics screen that tackled the items Cory and I had agreed should be included, Kaede irritably interrupted.

“I said I didn’t want this to include tracking the details of what everyone is doing. Why is this in here?”

Aware of his unhappiness, I said, “After you left the meeting, Cory agreed with me about it being valuable and said I should include it.”

“I did not,” Cory stated, voice hard.

I blinked in surprise and turned with my mouth open. “What?”

“I think it should be included, but I certainly didn’t tell you to do it when Kaede said not to.”

My eyes narrowed. The little punk made me sound insubordinate when I had followed his direction. I knew what he was doing—bowing to Kaede on seeing the reaction. He was throwing me under the bus. “Chuck was there. He heard y–”

Chuck laughed. “I didn’t hear shit.”

I stiffened, then went cold, being no stranger to bullying and being ganged up on. I felt set up and was well aware that Chuck had been hanging out with Cory, mostly because Chuck was incompetent and needed Cory’s help, just like with Jack before. He had a new person whose ass he needed to kiss. Other people were far better at playing these dishonest games than I was ever going to be. And I was sick of it.

Scowling at me, Kaede asked, “Is this part of the screen coded yet?”

Seeing his expression, which I returned, I changed my answer and lied. “Yes.”

Kaede sighed. “Well, then you might as well leave it. But I don’t want you showing any more initiative.” He got up to leave.

I cocked an eyebrow, bothered by the reversal of opinion about me stepping up, which he had encouraged. “Should I delete the app? My initiative led to this project and was clearly a mistake we both regret.”

He sighed and said over one shoulder as he disappeared, “Just finish it. And speed it up.”

With Kaede gone, I glared at Chuck, who laughed and rose along with a smiling Cory. I wanted to punch both of them in the face.