I had lunch recently with a a former co-worker. Nice guy. We used to have laughs and (as I recall) he was a pretty good developer. He's on the hunt for a new gig these days, hoping to capitalize on the hot job market. (Too bad he wasn't a Java developer - I get a lot of those emails.)
Trouble is, he's got this dark cloud following him around. I had forgotten that about him, and was reminded that he wasn't only a "half empty" sort, but that he seemed to be hooked on bitching about the company he worked for. Even after we left our company (they went under) he bitched about it, and about the new one he worked for. The market was bad back then, so he hated that he had to work for a company that didn't really match his tastes. "Leave" I'd say. Can't he'd say. I think he just liked that there was so much to complain about.
That got me thinking about the places that I've worked since landing here in Atlanta some 9 years ago. Most are out of business, which is why we left. Most had a pretty good idea, and some really great people. The business world is just like that. Timing is everything. Marketing has got to be superb. Your product has to reach right to where your target market itches. Luck helps too. They were pretty good companies, and most of them were a lot of fun. Sure, we worked major hours at most since they were startups, but I loved the rush of trying to beat the challenge; to rush trying to do the impossible. Did we fail? Naw - we just ran out of money usually. Like Vince Lombardi - never lost, just ran out of time every now and again.
Maybe this is like the romantic memories of former lovers. We forget about the little things that annoyed us and remember the good times. "Why'd I ever break up with her?" Well, there were good reasons, but mostly we remember the good times.
I remember the late night discussions over a white board nurturing a cup of coffee. I remember the debates over the best approach to solving a problem. I remember the ping pong games, the softball leagues (dead last, generally), and the rollerblading. I remember the Unreal Tournament sessions, blowing your friend's head off. I remember the euphoria when we accomplished what "they" said was impossible.
I feel sorry for my friend. It's much more fun to remember just the good and forget all the dull stuff. Selective memory really comes in handy in this case. How will we remember our current company? There's bound to be problems; but gather up the great things and turn your perspective to how you'll remember it 5 or 10 years from now, and it'll be a pretty good time. Hopefully we won't go out of business. Hopefully we'll actually accomplish the impossible. Hopefully I'll forget the little things that trip up some days. It's all good...