Thoughts about leaving TownNews.com


Effective June 19, I am resigning my position w/ TownNews.com as their WordPress Architect for their Rayos publishing platform.

I liked the job. The work was substantive. Most of the people were nice enough.

When I started in October 2019, I came into a software-in-transition. TN had acquired the Rayos platform from GTXcel, and my job was to embed w/ the GTX team, learn the software/workflow, and leverage that w/ my pre-existing knowledge of WP and make the transition to the new infrastructure.

Suffice to say early on I was useless. GTX was using a combination of Pantheon and AWS hosting w/ Bamboo deployments and a local dev environment based on Mac specific shell scripts for docker. Thing was super duper fucked. Every customer had their own installation/files for WP/Rayos. Some clients were on AWS, some were on Pantheon, and there was no unified management, you just had to use one other other depending on the customer.

that baggage didn’t transition w/ the software

Most people at GTX were kind, funny even. There was one person in-particular who I clashed with some, but that baggage didn’t transition w/ the software. So a team of people who worked on this prior, is what I was to replace. Their systems person, their lead dev, their contract dev, frontline dev. I was replacing them.

Documentation consisted of a bunch of half ass tossed together and unorganized confluence pages. Which by the way, fuck you Atlassian, confluence is about the most bogged down shitty interface. Actually the entire Atlassian suite is total trash. Bitbucket is OK. I hope you don’t fuck it up also.

Anyways, so as I am learning the Rayos software, I am also learning their dev workflow. After I get productive, I start handling some features/bug tickets and participate more. Right about then, we start ramping up talk about moving to TN infrastructure. So I have to learn TN’s protocols and procedures.

Writing it out like that in one sentence makes it sound like not a big deal, but when you go into an entirely new environment, new logins, VPN, processes, username variations, new email inbox, new addresses, it gets overwhelming. That is all ancillary to the actual work itself.

WordPress dev at TN is about the most convoluted thing you could concoct. I don’t want to go into details because it doesn’t matter, but it is made extremely difficult to work in WP typical dev workflows. Need to work in the DB? Hope you like terminal. Need to clone a live site to replicate an issue? Good fuckin luck. That was a process in itself.

fuck yes get me outta here for a bit

I was able to grow accustomed to these processes and even got into a good flow when COVID-19 hit and everything shut down. On the call with the CEO talking about mandatory 2 week furloughs and thinking to myself “fuck yes get me outta here for a bit”. Right after the call, I messaged my manager and asked if I could go immediately. Ultimately I was given a choice between taking the furlough or taking a 15% pay cut until the end of June. I talked w/ wife about it, and opted for the pay cut. It seemed, at the time, less disruptive.

So projects continued to pile up, new bugs, new fires. I interviewed and selected a new dev hire to join us. Got him up to speed and honestly he was about the best hire in terms of being “useful fast”, that I could have hoped. After he started,some batch import processing that we had a contractor handling fell on my lap when TN decided not to renew thier contract. During this mess we also interviewed and hired another dev to join the team. Got them up and going pretty quick. Then the first new hire got furloughed. Two weeks where it was me, a part time contractor, and a green as Barney’s nutsack new hire.

Stress was building up. I wasn’t sleeping very well. Was working weekends to catch up when I needed to. Working off hours to keep up emails and other work.

We have/had a part time PM who would show up a few times a week, bark off orders, redirect priorities, and then disappear into the void. We also have product people, systems, and my manager all barking their orders as required. I could handle the full time order-barkers, but the intermittent jolting by the part time PM caused more stress than I cared to deal with.

picture of text
The exact moment I decided to quit.

Can you believe the nerve of this person. I am balancing a huge project, my own specific dev tasks, QA, releases, incoming issues, training new people, and reporting to management, and this part time fuckin nobody has the fuckin gall to tell me it is unacceptable to miss ONE FUCKING CALL?

The bases were loaded, and this was a slow pitch right down the middle.

bout done w/ this shit

Unknown to her, I had brought my concerns about her being part time to my superiors in the past. Not in a “get her in trouble” way, but a “can you give her more hours” kind of way. I identified that this was an issue previously. When she said what she said above, I had a moment of clarity, where I realized that it was her behavior/work-style that was causing me stress.

Fast forward and I am already working at a new position. Same money, and FAR, FAR, FAR less stress. When I had a video call w/ the CEO of TownNews to attempt to retain me, I specifically mentioned the stress that her intermittent presence caused me, and the jarring redirecting of priorities. I mentioned how in a previous meeting, about priorities, that she didn’t fucking attend, that it was a problem and affecting me.

Well, fuck it. Fuck it and fuck them. I am lucky enough that I can be picky about where I work, and I while I was really trying to do this different, to hang on and go against my inclination to walk away from things I didn’t like, it was obvious that she wasn’t going to leave or change, so I decided I needed to.

It’s funny, almost immediately after announcing this and making it final, I noticed a marked decline in my avg blood pressure. I feel happier, I feel unbound. I don’t hate work, I don’t dread the start of the work week.

There is no conclusion to this, just, I gave notice, quit, and got a new job that I like.

The end.