An engineer gets back at a boss butting in.
In a past life, I was working for a small company helping to develop a new product.
As with any new products, we had bugs to run down and fix. As the product got
closer to the finish line, the failing scenarios became less frequent and much harder
to track down. The product contained multiple CPU subsystems operating asynchronously
from each other, so in the last stretch, we were chasing problems that would fail
only once in a few hours.
I was in the lab, face down in the scope hood (this predates digital scopes), hoping to
catch a glimpse of the culprit when my boss taps me on the shoulder and asks how’s
it going. As I jump out of my chair, I hear the disk drive go active and see the triggered
light go on, indicating that I just missed the event for which I’d been watching for two hours.
I leaned back in my chair and told him that this design was completely messed up, we
would have to redesign, and it would be three months before we ship anything. With a
look of horror on his face, my boss slinked out of the lab. A couple hours later, he
came in, I was leaning back in my chair and smiling. He asked again how it was going,
and I told him it was a simple bug, fixed with a single wire.
After that, when I was working furiously on a bug, he would look in the window, but not
come in the lab and ask me anything. He knew if he asked me at the wrong time, he
would not get the answer he wanted. Better to ask when I was smiling. I know it was
killing him to wait to find out, but you have to train your boss in proper bug etiquette.