Thursday, August 18, 2011

Very Close Quarters:

“Rich” was one of the best directors I ever worked for. He had a hard-driving type-A personality, and he expected a lot from us. But he was always open about what he was trying to do, including the why and the how of it.

Rich and “Dave”, one of the programmers in his group, drove to work together, a commute of about an hour each way. They covered about 25 miles of limited access parkway, and 15 miles of a nerve-wracking heavily trafficked two-lane road.

We wondered what it was like for Dave to be cooped up, hours each day, with his director. Dave did not report directly to Rich, but rather to one of the managers who worked for him. All that time together gave Dave direct access to Rich’s ear, or else it gave Rich wonderful opportunities to chew Dave out over anything.

Years later I ran into Dave and I asked him: what was it like, carpooling with Rich?

“I thought I was gonna die,” he said. He looked at my shocked face and explained.

“Rich had a radar detector. He set his cruise control fifteen miles over the speed limit. Whenever the detector went off, he slammed the brakes and dropped our speed to thirty. I expected to get rear-ended every time.”

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