It finally happened. Someone finally said it. I was attending a recent talk by a nameless major speaker in charge of a large Health IT organization. I had to get up and walk out on the speaker. I’m not normally one to get up and walk out on people in a huff, but long ago I made a contract with myself that if anyone uttered 2 fateful words again I was going to get up and walk out. Those two words are:
Yes, that’s it. Two simple words, cut code. It may seem small but those words were first uttered to me over 15 years ago by an obnoxious head hunter for software engineers. This particular head hunter was touting a COBOL job he had that I absolutely did not want: ‘You just get in there in this job and cut code.’ I had just finished 5 grueling years working for IBM as a software engineer and had recently graduated with a Masters degree in Computer Science so when this person referred to what I did as cutting code, it struck a nerve.
Since that time I had thought to myself that if anyone ever referred to writing software as cutting code, I was going to walk out of the room because I would immediately know that the person saying it was an utter doofus who had no understanding of software engineering, its difficulties, power or subtleties. I doubt anyone would refer to what a mathematician does as ‘mixing equations’, a statistican as ‘flinging stats’ or a automotive engineer as ‘stitching cars’. To me it is the same as reading an e-mail IN ALL CAPS WHICH SCREAMS: I’M AN UTTER BEGINNER IN USING A COMPUTER OR E-MAIL! Unfortunately the cut code comment was being said by a Health IT leader in charge of a tens of millions dollar budget.
I’ve unfortunately mentioned my cut code pet peeve to my co-workers at a startup company, Your Doctor Program, I’m involved with. They shortly thereafter started teasing me about it. Slipping ‘cut code’ in to meetings to see what I would do. However, the talk I attended was no laughing matter as I was witnessing what I think is the impending expensive dormancy of an organization that had made remarkable achievements in Health IT.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, I would like for you to join me in my futile quest of walking out on any meeting in which the words ‘cut code’ is used to refer to what software engineers do and they mean it. Thank you, I feel better now.