The Beast roamed the office hallways; always seeing, always watching, always devouring.
My first encounter with the Beast took place a few months after I joined the company. I didn’t recognize it immediately, due to my youth and inexperience. This was, after all, my first job as a programmer.
One Tuesday I needed to leave work early, so I came in at 6 am. My boss was in his office, hunched over a stack of papers. I still remember the twitchy way he stirred his coffee, and the pile of used stir-sticks scattered under his monitor that morning.
Surprised, I said “Oh, hey. You’re here early.”
He raised his eyes wearily, “Been here all night working on last-minute budget changes. Could you shut the door for me? Have a good one.”
What I didn’t see was the Beast in the corner.
A few months later I encountered the Beast again, this time in the office of the VP of IS. It sat in the corner, silently watching. Waiting.
Him: “We need this feature in two weeks.”
Me: “Right, but the estimate is nine weeks…”
“I know, but we have to get it done. You’re not going to let us down, are you?”
“No, but are we being – “
He cut me off, “Are we being realistic? Yes and no. Maybe not according to your schedule, but according to what I need.”
Nodding, I understood.
The Beast had an insatiable appetite. “More, more, more! Faster, faster, faster!” it cried.
I grew used to the demands of the beast – and like an inmate who brags about surviving a particularly brutal prison, I bragged to outsiders about my experiences.
I even came to love the Beast. If others criticized the Beast, I made excuses for it using words like ‘drive’, ‘motivation’, and ‘passion.’
I knew the Beast was hungry, but what I didn’t realize was that it was insane.
And, that I was losing my sanity as well.
Ridiculous delivery schedules.
Crazy, last-minute feature demands.
I didn’t see the Beast’s insanity until I left the company, much like a child doesn’t recognize a dysfunctional family until they go out into the world.
Maybe the Beast’s insanity was necessary to satisfy its appetite. It allowed it to demand whatever measures necessary to feed its never-ending appetite.
Ironically, insanity also meant the Beast would never, ever be satisfied.
I had lost my sanity and was now serving the beast. I couldn’t see all of this until it was too late.
I hope you’re not in the same boat.
Does this Beast live where you work?