One of the major problems I’ve been dealing with lately has frequently seemed to me to come down either to living in parallel universes that briefly touch or to the tracks of time looping too closely together. When I hear people asking for conflicting things and then repeatedly coming back to the same problem they keep blaming me for (it’s always “Why are things taking so long? Why can’t we release this sooner? Why do we want to make such a strong containment field for a second level mind rotting mold – can’t we just spray the inside of a jam jar with Lysol and call that good?” followed by “Why didn’t you test that? Don’t you always try all four thousand arcane summoning languages when you’re verifying the address validation fields?”), I am not sure if I’m reliving the month of July all over again (same on the inside, gloomy office building, but the outside now features less sun) or if in one universe eveyrone wants something fast, and in the other universe everyone wants things done right, and I’m the one that keeps getting shifted between the two. The alternate is that people want two things that are in conflict and that they’ve never read the really basic stuff about how you can have TIME COST or QUALITY but not all three fixed. IT’S A TRIANGLE PEOPLE AND THE GLOP HAS GOT TO MOVE SOMEWHERE.

So I’m in a world where the glop stops here, on my lap, and I can’t figure what the fuck to do about it because, try as I might, I can’t get locked into one of the universes that is run by sane people and every day when I open the door and walk in I have no idea if it’s going to be normal boss or the one with three heads breathing fire, nerve gas, and electriity (and on the good days I think they eyes might be seeing eldritch beings floating behind me, only they’re actually imaginary as opposed to the real ones I get in Flaming Boss Universe). I have all of the insanity to deal with and it doesn’t want to go away. No wonder I keep having group outings to buy bacon sandwiches: each bite is proof of a better universe existing somewhere, if only in my mouth.

All seemed to be truly lost when I did some simple arithmetic and proved that, basically, now that my left hand man had been sacrificed to Mammon, it was going to be impossible to ever reduce the heaving mass of evil down to something that wouldn’t randomly wipe out the grain harvests of entire nations every time we did an upgrade. My thought was to lock myself into a titanium lined garbage can with a few hundred Jane Plan meals and keep the lid down tight until the Christmas season was over. By that time I figure the universe would have reorganized itself so many times that I might actually emerge into one of the more positive world, possibly one of the ones where people believe in refactoring code AND good bagels are readily available. Or, you know, I could walk into the world in which the government has decided to trade away all workers’ rights legislation in exchange for a handful of magic beans.

And then … it seemed that the god Mammon did speak to me. For lo, the following things did occur:
1. In a bloody duel to the death between lesser mage one (fire breathing) and lesser mage two (Wondertwin Powers Activate!), I used Elixir of Elderflower Tea to placate the second, and was given an audience with Ultimate Lord of Darkness but mis-sold it as a chance to trial run a presentation I was hoping to give to a test conference in two months time. I quickly donned my runic robes, grabbed a +2 magic harp … and darned if the magic harp wasn’t into bebop, JUST LIKE U.L.D.

2. U.L.D. saw that the “if I only had a brain” joke slide was actually a desperate plea for investment in test automation … DISGUISED AS a free improv on “Night in Tunisia.” The room full of big execs was sitting there, nodding their heads, the smoke coming out of the censers waving in harmony … and as I walked out of the room I had two wristbands of artifice placed on me, like Wonder Woman getting her Amazonian birthright restored. The U.L.D. was pleased. Woohoo! And as they say, that and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee, if you can time travel to 1985.

3. The next week I went into a meeting (it’s called “resourcing” but it’s really “putting you off until you give up”), received some electrified darts of disaster from the organizer … which bounced off of my wristbands and embedded themselves into one of my tailing invisible horrors (never know which days those have decided to manifest themselves). The tagged horror followed me back to my desk and stood there, moaning piteously, until I removed the dart. But this gave me an idea. I gathered up all of the spent darts from the previous month’s meetings (it wasn’t difficult to figure out where they were based on the moaning level), then waited until the person who ran said meeting went on vacation the next week. Then 4. I represented my idea, lightly enchanted with an accompanying plate of chocolate chip cookies … and flicked darts into everyone there. My piece de resistance: telling everyone my project would SAVE THE COMPANY MONEY.

By the end of the week, when I tugged the little strings attached to the darts, everyone was nodding their heads like Pinocchio at the puppet show, or the press corps in Kander & Ebb’s Chicago. My project was approved, everyone agreed it was necessary, and with a little bit of magic with colored markers, it had been squeezed onto the schedule for the end of the year. Who would think that when I thought I needed a major alteration to people’s pictures of reality, that all I needed to do was to appeal to greed in order to become the great puppet master? I’ve still got a huge stock of the Jane Plan meals to get me through Christmas, but hey: they’re saving me money, and maybe even helping me slim down. Or they would be if I could keep away from the bacon sandwiches. But life’s too short to make certain sacrifices, especially when it’s your team that starts buying them for you.

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