Condo Chronicles: The American Dream

“So, ladies and gentlemen, congratulations on being condo homeowners at this new address!” proclaimed Raymond. “I’m sure that you’ll enjoy your new home here at Casa de Perros, here in this wonderful ethnic neighborhood of Little Peru. Yes, for those of you who know Spanish, that does translate to ‘House of Dogs’…and, yes, we did know that before we started using it.” Raymond smiled at the few laughs that came his way. “As it turns out, dogs were an important part of the ancient Incan culture in Peru, and the name is a tribute to that heritage.”

In response, a few of the white couples nodded their heads approvingly. The phrase how progressive could be heard a number of times among them.

Raymond continued. “I happen to know quite a bit about Little Peru since I’ve been visiting this neighborhood for decades. Richie and I go way back, having grown up in the next town over. We saw the empty lot on this spot for a long time and talked about how much a bunch of God-loving families would love to live in this upcoming neighborhood. So, Richie rounded up some of his friends from City Hall, and I rounded up a few business friends. Together, we formed a partnership that was able to construct this wonderful building for all of you!”

As some of the other owners politely clapped their hands, I nodded my head approvingly and leaned in close to Rhonda’s ear for a whisper. “The police captain and people from city hall helped to build this place? Man, this place is as legit as it gets.”

“Though, ladies and gentlemen, “ continued Raymond, “you shouldn’t actually ask me any questions about the building work. Richie knows more about that, since his dad used to be in construction. Instead, you can save the more general questions for me, since I’ll be your property manager. Who’s better at managing your property than one of the guys who helped build it, right? And contrary to what you may have heard, not all property managers are thieves. I certainly don’t have it in my heart to steal from blessed families like yourselves. Actually, the real thief that you should watch out for is time. It robs us of everything, doesn’t it?”

As several couples clasped hands and exchanged glances after reflecting on Raymond’s philosophical musing, I noticed one portly white fellow briefly talking with his wife before finally raising his hand. Put your hand down, buddy. We’re not in fifth grade. His attire was reminiscent of hip-hop culture, with enough space in them to be considered large on Biggie Smalls. In fact, they might have actually been worn by Biggie Smalls. I nudged Rhonda. “Ten bucks says that chubby is gonna ask if he can go to the bathroom.”

Rhonda suppressed a laugh as Raymond addressed his questioner. “Yes, sir. Do you have a question?”

“Yeah,” began the inquiring fellow. “I was wondering where we can find our butler?”

Raymond looked perplexed before responding. “Uhhh…your what? What’s your name, sir? Go ahead and introduce yourself.”

“Oh, yeah, no problem,” he said awkwardly, clearing his throat before continuing. “Yo, my name is Mike, and this is my girl Lisa. We was wondering about the butler situation. You feel me?”

“I’m not sure…do you mean the building super?” asked Raymond, with a raised eyebrow.

Mike shook his head. “No, man. You know…the guy at the front desk when you walk into the lobby. Like in those big buildings on the waterfront in Jersey City. You feel me?”

I stepped close to Rhonda, lowering my voice. “I think that 2 Live Chew is talking about a concierge. And I dare you to go feel him.”

I thought that Raymond was having a similar thought (without the need to ‘feel him’), since his countenance suddenly switched from perplexity to comprehension. “Ah, I see,” began Raymond. “I think that I know what you mean…”

“Sorry, everyone! I finally got here!”

Raymond and everyone else turned their heads at the sudden interruption. Quickly approaching our enclosed circle, a dark-haired gentleman headed towards us in a grey police uniform and in knee-high leather boots. His slicked-back hair and his long thin nose made his head particularly aerodynamic and aquiline. His boots made quick clicking sounds as he moved quickly across the cement floor, proceeding with a cadence that would inspire jealousy from any goose-stepping soldier.

“Hold up, fellas! Sorry that I was late. I had to respond to a call from a bar, and my bike’s engine choked up a bit on my way here. That incident at the bar took most of my time. Some loon was yelling at a woman over God knows what…it took me forever to diffuse the situation and get him to shut up…I was this close to shooting him with my Taser!”

I looked at Rhonda questioningly (and somewhat frightfully), and she nodded her head in affirmation. “Yep,” she said, “That’s the cop from the floor below us.”

As the Gestapo-reminiscent officer took a place by Raymond, the latter held out his hand to greet the newcomer. “I’m sorry, sir. You are…?”

“Vinny Rizen,” said the newest guest to the circle, shaking Raymond’s hand in the process. “I just bought my place in the building, too. On the third floor.”

Raymond’s moustache pulled at his lips to sport a broad smile. “God bless you! Welcome then! For a second, I thought that you were one of Richie’s guys. But then I remembered your name in the building’s files. You work in another town, along the waterfront. Right, right…well, good to meet you. We were just about to make introductions between everyone…”

“Stop! Stop! Hold up!”

As Vinny fumbled with his ringing phone, everyone else once again turned to see a figure dashing towards them, frantically waving in a clumsy run.

I sighed. “For fuck’s sake,” I quietly rasped, “when are we actually going to start this thing? At this rate, we should just go ahead and build a goddamn campfire with some tents…I can feel my warmth draining through my shoes, into this cold floor…”

“Tell me about it,” agreed Rhonda. “Wait a minute…I think…yep, that’s the Sikh guy. I talked to him in the lobby that one time. He seems nice…”

The lanky fellow in a dark suit and a blue turban was panting when he finally arrived a few feet away from me and Rhonda. He waved both hands at everyone while he stood catching his breath, shining a warm smile at everyone around us. He was in the midst of scanning the group with a kind gaze when his vision stopped on the penultimate arrival to the group. His amiable pose gave way as his attention focused on Vinny, and his face transformed into a vicious scowl, with his lips curling to form the next word at the motorcycle cop. “YOU!!!”

The hissing tone finally distracted Vinny from his phone, and he raised his head in order to meet the menacing look of the Sikh gentleman. Vinny’s visage also twisted to match the disapproval of his challenger. “Oh, shit…Of all the fuckin’ luck! Not you again!”

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy, muttering bastard on occasion.

Typical Daily Schedule of a Developer

9:00 A.M. Eat breakfast in cubicle/office

9:30 A.M. Attend the daily Scrum meeting

9:31 A.M. Immediately zone out after stating my progress report and fantasize about a fight between a ninja and a pirate for the remaining duration

10:00 A.M. Be visited by fellow developer Steve, who tells you how fellow developer Bob doesn’t have a clue about his job

10:30 A.M. Check out latest source code and begin reviewing the code introduced by the junior developers

10:45 A.M. Weep

10:50 A.M. Fix the mistakes of your junior developers

11:30 A.M. Be visited by fellow developer Bob, who tells you how fellow developer Steve is an imbecile

12:00 P.M. Prepare to eat lunch when a production issue suddenly strikes

12:30 P.M. Attempt to fix the production issue while hungry and in panic, resulting in only more unfolding disasters

2:00 P.M. Eat lunch finally and bitterly

3:00 P.M. Go to meeting about upcoming project A

3:10 P.M. Project manager Mark interrupts the meeting to talk about his new project B and to point out that project A has many flaws

3:20 P.M. Everyone argues at the meeting and threatens to murder each others’ families

3:50 P.M. The meeting is postponed until the next day

4:00 P.M. Finally start to write some code for your own project

5:00 P.M. Your boss asks you to come into his office for a conference call

5:15 P.M. Your boss has a conversation with you, asking if there any obstacles that are delaying your portion of the current project

6:00 P.M. Leave work

7:00 P.M. Prepare to eat a warm dinner when another production issue forces you to remotely log into your system from home

8:30 P.M. Eat a cold dinner between clenched teeth

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

Condo Chronicles: It’s Time to Rumble

“Is this where we’re supposed to meet?!?”

I knew that it was…but that didn’t stop me from posing the question out loud, as a polite way to insinuate that everyone else should hurry the fuck up and get here. I didn’t want me and my wife to be the only ones in this dimly-lit, cool cave. After all, if we were suddenly ambushed by surreptitious ninjas, we’d need more numbers to even the odds. Of course, the chances of being assaulted by a gang of ninjas was pretty close to nil, especially within a Jersey parking garage that faced Manhattan. But hey…stranger things have been known to happen…

“Stop being so impatient! You’re gonna make the both of us irritable.”

Even though I saw her viewpoint, I didn’t say anything in response…mainly since I didn’t want my wife to have the satisfaction of being right. Like any other couple who’s spent more than 5 years together, every disagreement naturally takes on the form of a contest of wills; it’s just the way of things. Standing on the rim of a large pool of light, we continued our vigil. I feel like I’m Bob Woodward waiting for Deep Throat…but with a less noble cause. I kept my eyes trained forward on the doors, while Rhonda kept us abreast of the general news in the world via her phone. In the midst of describing yet another annoying comment on Facebook, she paused her story when we both clearly heard a sound from the shadows in front of us.

She dropped the phone to her side and looked at me. “What was that?”

I squinted at the surrounding darkness. “I think that someone else is here.”

As the figure moved closer towards us, more details about our newcomer could be made out. He was tall with dark hair, and he moved with a certain amount of confidence. Within a few feet of the pool’s rim, I could make out a police uniform.

As a greeting, I yelled out my inquiry. “You’re here for the meeting, too?”

He stopped directly across from us, with just the bottom half of his face was illuminated. Only the tips of his shoes were brave enough to venture out from the shadows. “Yep,” he replies. “I guess that I’m in the right place. Where’s everybody else?”

“They should be here soon,” replied Rhonda quickly.

I gave him a nod and a salute. “Officer O’Bannon, right? Good to know that we’ve got the town’s best police captain on our side. Maybe I could get you to help us with a few parking tickets…?”

“I don’t see why not,” he replied. “What’s a few parking tickets between friends?”

My icebreaker did its magic, and we all chuckled a bit as we waited for the remainder of our plenary gathering. After a few more minutes, other people took their places in the light’s circle, and we soon had the full circumference occupied by various sorts of people. In total, there were somewhere around a few dozen people in the garage now.

I directed a whisper to my side. “You talked to any of these people, yet?”

“No, not really. A few words here and there…but all in all, not much.”

I took a quick look around. “Some of these guys seem like weirdos…but I guess that we’ll just have to make do with the given situation.”

“Stop being so pessimistic,” chided Rhonda. “I bet that everything will work out. Wait…there are some people missing. Who’s not here?”

“Hmmm…I think that the Sikh guy isn’t here yet. And I don’t see the other cop, either.”

“Well,” shrugged Rhonda, “maybe they’ll show up later.”

People politely talked with each other about the weather, and the general murmur continued in the room for several more minutes before a booming voice could be heard from the front of the garage. “Hello, ladies and gentlemen! I’m so glad that so many of you could make it to our meeting! God bless all of you.”

All the heads of our shadowy council turned to look at the figure who approached with a slow, confident pace. As the light removed the darkness covering him, we could see an older gentlemen in a modest suit with expensive shoes walking towards us, and he sported a slight grin under his thin moustache. The expression on his face matched his gait: calm and measured. When he was only a few feet away, he ground his spent cigarette on the back of a small black case and put the butt within its confines.

“I didn’t know that Mr. Vitalona was a smoker,” remarked Rhonda in a low voice.

I shook my head. “Neither did I. He must have some sort of technique for disguising the smell. Tricky devil.”

Mr .Vitalona took his place at the side of Officer O’Bannon with a friendly pat on the back. After they quickly shook hands, Mr. Vitalona turned to face the group that encircled them. “Isn’t it funny to see good and evil shaking hands, everyone? Only in New Jersey! As most of you already know, I am Mr. Vitalona, but since we’re all friends here, I insist that you call me Raymond. Also, I’m standing next to my long-time friend and colleague Richard O’Bannon, but we insist that you call him Richie. Right, Richie? In any case, we’ve got a lot to get done here tonight. So, let’s start now and finally get down to business.”

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy, muttering bastard on occasion.

How to Be the Ultimate Hipster Programmer

  1. Write your code on an archaic typewriter before you scan the pages into actual code files.
  2. Develop an algorithm that will autopilot your steam-powered, brass drone.
  3. Be super exclusive and only drink old, unopened bottles of Mountain Dew Red.
  4. Adorn your cubicle with sultry pictures of a young Grace Hopper.
  5. Now that the company is going out of business, purchase your own RadioShack store and live there with the remaining inventory.

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.