The concept of hell as a place you go during your after life if you are “bad” has been around since the day humans developed the ability to bullshit. Some believe hell is weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, darkness, flames, burning, torments and everlasting punishment. Some others believe it is a low budget courtroom drama where all the bad decisions in your life are played out by actors that don’t look anything like you, and you’re expected to explain your actions. The reasonable among us believe hell exists right here on earth, and we experience it daily. I was at a Starbucks the other day and after waiting in the drive through lane for, like, 4 minutes, they tell me their cold brew machine is down. I had to drive 2 more minutes to another Starbucks to get my fix. You think that other stuff is worse than this agony?
Okay fine, the modern definition of “hell” among us sinners is more like a mild inconvenience than true adversity--a heck, if you will. It is also fair to say that for the past few months, the vast majority of us have been living in heck, and I, for one, am tired of suffering through it quietly.
This global pandemic has forced me to spend entirely way too much time away from work. I have been unwittingly made to spend more time with my child and to get far more involved in his education and frankly, his personal life--learning about his hopes and dreams and hobbies? Seriously. I have been coerced into the unfortunate situation where I have several additional hours a week I usually spend commuting that I now spend walking my dogs and sharing quiet moments with my wife as we both catch up on our many hours of phone reading. I have been exercising more and grumbling less, and find myself in a better mood more often. There is a disturbing amount of positivity around me.
It’s not just at home either! I am experiencing heck at work as well. I am spending a tiny fraction of my time in long meetings now than I used to. The awkward small talks in the kitchenette with whatshisface from that other department have all but vanished. Incidents where someone interrupts me in the middle of debugging an issue, irreversibly breaking my train of thought and costing many more hours of frustration have all but vanished. The monotony of staring at a computer screen, unable to control lighting or temperature or ambient noises has now been replaced with occasional visits from the pets, the child and the wife. That's entirely just too many good things for a reasonable adult to function--no one can be expected to be productive in this kind of environment!
And it gets worse! This epidemic appears to have spread to the rest of my team as well. People are being far more productive than they were before, causing us to deliver projects under budget and ahead of schedule. Can you imagine the precedent this is setting? It’s almost as if the point that software developers work better in remote settings is being made for me with actual facts and tangible results. Meetings are being replaced with Slack conversations and emails that are far better thought out. People are collaborating more and getting along better. Folks being able to work on their own schedules has put them all in far better moods, leading yet again to more productivity. At what point do we draw the line and say, enough is enough!
It's as if despite my best efforts, something useful is coming out of this crisis. Something like this can’t possibly force our hand into using technology that has been available for decades to permanently change how we work for the better. How can we claim to be a part of a functioning society if we can’t even pack people into wide open spaces lined wall to wall in cubicles, with oppressive lighting and a constant hum of background noise? How are people going to contribute to the larger picture if they can’t be present during all the unrelated conversations that happen around them for the times when they might serendipitously add something to the idea? Without an oppressive environment chipping away at their very being, so that they are a partial husk of themselves by the time they make it home at night, how are they expected to grow as the future leaders? This is not the America my moderately well to do parents emigrated to.
It's not enough that we as a species have made it to the top of the food chain, but now we have to think about things having more than one dimension?
"When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don't want your damn lemons, what the hell am I supposed to do with these? Demand to see life's manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons! Do you know who I am? I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down! With the lemons! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that burns your house down!"