August 29, 2004
I’ve been going through kind of a low point at work, feeling a little bit underappreciated and paranoid. On Thursday night I was super irked because I had to do emergency fixes at the last minute until 1AM through no fault of my own; then on Friday I had to come in at 6AM to push. I can report that it is cold and dark at 6AM, and even McDonald’s is not open.
But then the whole day turned out beautiful. First, not one but three different people brought donuts because we were working so early. I grabbed my sleeping bag for a nap under my desk and felt much less swimmy. Then we pushed our feature, which was kind of trivial but people were having a lot of fun with it. Finally in the afternoon we headed over to a semi-spontaneous engineering BBQ at our VP’s house overlooking the Bay. Our host mixed up a cauldron of frozen Pantydroppers (pink lemonade and vodka and dry ice); I hauled over a huge bowl of homemade galbi and some beer; release daddy grilled up a big bag of sausages; QA contributed handmade tamales and chips and salsa; one of our webdevs threw in some meat on a stick and another made not one but two batches of her famous ice cream (double-chocolate and raspberry, yum) plus some mini-cheesecakes. We fed the scraps to the dogs that were running around, and basically just enjoyed the afternoon together.
I was standing there thinking: you know, most eng teams I know couldn’t cooperatively make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without getting tangled up in stupid arguments (“I like chunky”, “I insist on creamy”, “Wheat!”, “White!”, “Strawberry jam is the Right Thing”, “Grape jelly is Worse but Better”). My team can push a time-sensitive feature out the door without a hitch and then throw a potluck party for 25 people without batting an eyelash. All of a sudden I let go of my petty resentments and just felt lucky to be part of a real team qua team. It’s really just as great as everyone says — and much more rare.