The (Possibly Pointless) Story

Oct 31 2015 by Bill Kervaski in Humor

A long time ago when I was a lowly programmer for a check printing company we would constantly be hassled by some miserable middle management monkey to fill out a timesheet that actually asked us how many lines of code we had written that week.

Size matters? Maybe, but not in this case. Any good programmer will tell you it's quite easy to spend an entire day (or week) and end up with just a few lines of code.

Sometimes, when we did peer review, I might get my 500 lines of code back reduced to just 50 lines and still completely functional, because, well, that guy was probably smarter than me.

One week, when I was feeling particularly smarter than usual, I reduced a complex mess by one of the old school senior programmers by something like 2000 lines of code. As I recall, he wasn't near as happy about it as I was.

Quite proud of myself, naturally, when it came time to fill out my timesheet, in the spot where it asked how many lines of code I committed that week, I cheerfully wrote -1620 (-2000 plus the 380 lines I did somewhere else).

I turned it in and almost immediately regretted it falling into one of those "what if I sneak back up there after hours and change it" moments knowing I was going to get my backside handed to me the next day.

I walked in that morning sweating bullets and sat uncharacteristically quiet at my desk waiting for the inevitable "meeting" I was going to get called into.

How did it turn out? Well, they got the point I didn't know I was trying to make and that was the last week we had to fill out timesheets. Oh, and I got a raise and a promotion, nice.

True story.