Jaemo’s farewell

Another one bites the dust.

I hate it when friends leave, even if it’s just to go to another company in the city. And with James’ departure, it hits a little more. Not just because I saw a lot of my older self in him, not just because he was one of our Sr. developers, or even just because he single-handedly put an end to reply-alls in the building for a long time.

It’s probably because this place will be a lot quieter without him.

I still remember when James started. He was a young, brash, loud, and potentially brilliant developer. Which meant that certain people on the team immediately hated him. Why? Because James rocked the boat by refusing to fall in line. Unlike those of us who chose to go against doctrine in a more passive manner, James was much more vocal. Where others use subtlety, James used subterfuge. When others whispered, James cracked a whip.

Very early on, James single-handedly took on the issue of people replying to companywide emails with trivial points, often engaging everyone in a conversation that no-one truly cared about. James’ approach? The most effective weapon in his arsenal: comedic, sometimes outright mocking images. They did an exceedingly good job at putting replies to an end. James’ first image was beautifully simple: a small boy, praying at the side of a bed (presumably before he went to sleep). The caption read: “Please God, make it stop.”

James’ second reply was to a CEO’s email. I suggested that he might want to back off until he at least passed his probationary period.

I saw a lot of myself in James, only amplified a few times. The brashness of youth, the self-realization of brillance, the demands of excellence. James has yet to reach the age I was when I started (though he is close now), and I wonder if he will mellow over the years in the way I have calmed down. (Those of you who knew me as a teenager/early 20-something will no doubt find that hard to believe.)

I had hoped we could hang onto James, but after three-ish years it’s hard to hang onto veterans. That’s the nature of our industry — a couple years here, a couple years there, and the process goes on. The loss of experience and knowledge is often hard to deal with. It hurts every time we lose a long-term employee. We’ve seen this loss many times over, and we’ll see it again and again — the nature of our business.

Amy. Luke. Adam. Mark. Dave. Jaime. Christine. Andrew. Jude. Scott. Angie. Pat. Carl. Rich. Vlad. Neil. Tamara. Bill. Myles. Damon. Ed. Cory. Jules. Reid. Darren. Nancy. Rob. Jen. Graham. Dave (a different one). And that’sonly just those I can easily remember. I missed recording most of the departures over the last year due to my blogging inactivity. (There’s a thousand reasons for that, none of which have any real validity when it comes down to the fact that I just didn’t do what I should have been doing.) So for all of you who have left who wonder where your farewell is … I can only apologize.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming anyone for this. Ours is a hard industry, and it’s hard to stay here for long without the desire to move on. That’s assuming, of course, that the pressures of the job don’t get to you first. Client demands are often a hard thing, and they can wear you down. Even in the lower echelons, where client contact rarely happens, the trickle-down effect can be quite pronounced.

I suppose after a while you become immune to the pressure. Or you find a way of dealing with it. Or you go insane. Heck, there’s really only four options, and if you don’t decide to move on, you succumb to each of the other three over time … though the order in which each of them gets you is different from person to person. I think I’ve almost reached the “immune” stage. Or at least, I hope I’ve almost reached it.

So James is gone. Unlike Scott or Jude, though, he’s still in town. So it’s not so bad. And Mike has returned after his effective exile of about four years ago. Rudy’s going soon, so that’s something else to contend with.

Times they are a changin’. For better or for worse, that’s how life goes. It sucks when friends aren’t as readily accessible as they were before, but at least — if nothing else — the internet does make communication significantly easier.

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