There was a pleading look in his eyes. My manager Tom* was stuck, having promised certain features to a client by a certain deadline, and those features were not delivered yet.
Throughout the project, I had done my best to prudently balance getting features out the door and doing so in the best way I knew how. I had taken shortcuts along the way just to get things done, especially as the deadline loomed, yet it still wasn’t enough. We were going to show the customer our progress on Monday, it was Friday, and it was close but not quite there.
We were in a pickle, to be sure. Looking helpless, unable to pitch in on the coding, Tom felt no option but to ask “Could you work this weekend? I will work with the company to pay overtime. It’s super important.”
My heart sank. I had put him in an impossible position. Of course I would work on the weekend to help get him out of a bind.
I did, putting in a full day on Sunday. My wife ran the vacuum around me as I sat at my desk, headphones on, looking intently at the screen.
Come Monday, the client saw some issues and otherwise was happy enough. The client was none the wiser about the amount of work and stress that went into finishing up the final few tasks.
A few weeks later, it happened again. This time, it was because a different client was looking for something to be done with a quick turnaround. The client was particularly demanding, and spent a lot of money at the company, so it made sense to want to please them. There was the same look, the same request, the same result.
It wasn’t the last time.
Although infrequent, each time it happened I grew a bit more jaded. When we caught up on a Monday after such a weekend, my manager talked about going to his weekend home and taking the boat out on the lake. I thought about about the commute and how I left for work at 7:30 am after staying up until 11 pm the night before writing code.
The next time I was asked, I said I really preferred not to. The dead air felt solid. I was frozen within the moment. After the moment passed, nothing happened. Tom understood, and although it didn’t solve the immediate issue of the client deadline, eventually some schedules were rearranged, and I got more help on the project.
*Name changed to protect the innocent