I’m a bad programmer.
I still ended up a bad programmer.
I’m honestly puzzled that it turned out this way. Sometimes I think that maybe I wasn’t meant to be a programmer. But the evidence is mostly against that; even though I discovered programming relatively late (22 years old), I turned out to have so many of the common traits of programmers—a pedantic, nitpicky attitude; a comfort with abstraction; a lifelong interest in computers and technology—that it almost seems like destiny wanted me to be a programmer, and I just screwed it up somehow.
So, fine. I’m a bad programmer. I’d still like to work as a programmer. I don’t have the temperament to be a manager or a sales rep, nor the education to be in marketing. I’m no good at working with my hands, and I’m not the kind of person who’s interested in building up a business. My grades were too mediocre to get me into graduate school (because I took challenging classes as a bad programmer), so I can’t be a professor or a lecturer. So I’d like to work as a programmer. There’s just one problem: I can’t figure out where bad programmers get jobs.
I know they get jobs. The Daily WTF is full of stories about bad programmers who got jobs, and left behind awful code to torment future good programmers. While I feel somewhat bad when I think of all the innocent good programmers I’ll unknowingly torment in the future if I do get a job, I can quash those feelings. My current job involves handling the excrement or vomit of random strangers on a daily basis. To get away from that, I’ll let the howling wails of a few good programmers, seeping across time from the future, fall upon deaf ears in the present.
I tried applying to companies that were looking for good programmers, hoping maybe I could fool someone. So far, no one has been fooled. The irksome thing is, only one company so far has actually outed me as a bad programmer. The rest knocked me out because of years-of-experience requirements which weren’t even on the job ad, or because I don’t know Spring MVC when it wasn’t even on the job ad, or some other thing that wasn’t even on the job ad. If your interview process is able to uncover what an awful programmer I am, I guess I can accept my defeat. But most of these guys didn’t even give me the chance to trick them. It’s pretty annoying; for all they knew, I was a good programmer. For all they knew, I was the best programmer ever. They didn’t bother to find out.
But bad programmers must get jobs. There are too many stories on The Daily WTF. They can’t all be good programmers who just missed their morning coffee the day they wrote that five hundred-line quintuply nested switch statement, or whose dog died the day before they wrote those preprocessor macros to make C look like Pascal. Bad programmers are working somewhere. I need to find out where that is. I need to figure out how to get a job at Bad Programmer Central, writing awful code, using mind-numbing technologies to solve boring problems, coming in to work at nine and leaving at five and giving not a single thought to code except when I’m at the office. These mythical people must exist; they’ve been mentioned too many times on The Daily WTF and Coding Horror and Joel on Software and Scott Hanselman’s blog not to exist. Scott Hanselman attributed something negative (I don’t remember what) to these people on Hanselminutes once. He wouldn’t do that if they didn’t exist, right? That would be like Charlie Rose attributing problems in the Middle East to Bigfoot, right?
So tell me. Tell me where bad programmers get jobs. Because I’m a bad programmer, and I need a job. If you tell me now, I’ll swear never to work at the same company as you. Then you won’t be the one howling with anguish at the awful code I leave behind, and you can feel good about helping out a bad programmer in an hour of darkness.