Matt enjoyed teaching. He mentored junior devs and interns with no technological backgrounds, and helped them to be experienced programmers. He believed that employers should hire based on attitude and then train employees up on skills.

That was before he met Derrick.

Matt wasn’t entirely clear on how Derrick became an junior dev at their company. Maybe he was pushed by his parents or grandparents to get into that “new tech field”, or maybe he was someone’s son, or a family friend of an executive.

To say that Derrick lacks technical experience is an understatement. Matt’s seen Amish farmers at the local market with a better understanding of programming. He proudly uses an antique flip phone, because that way the government can’t track him. The company uses two factor authentication via an app, and bought him a phone which supports the app. He leaves the phone at his desk and only uses it to log in. He writes code in Notepad where possible, because it’s installed on every computer and anything else is just excess.

Worst, Derrick was mostly good natured and wanted to help, but didn’t understand why he needed mentoring and guidance.

Most recently, Matt was trying to introduce Derrick to the life of being “full stack”, which is to say- getting data from the back end and building a report on the front end. In this case, it was a marketing report for tracking clicks related to a marketing campaign.

It’s been rough going. While reviewing a recent changeset, Matt spotted a problem and messaged Derrick on Slack. “Hey, Derrick, that new module you just delivered? You added a bunch of count fields, but you’ve made them all text fields. Can you change them to be numeric? They’re counts, so they can’t be anything else.”

“Sure, Matt,” Derrick replied, “but hey, not to get down on your mentoring, but you really ought to specify these things precisely.”

Matt nearly choked on his coffee, internally screaming, “are you serious?” Matt cursed to himself and then gave himself 15 minutes to cool down, before replying back.

“Sorry, Derrick,” Matt typed, “but I forget you may not be aware of the standards that are employed…” Matt typed everywhere, but decided to be more subtle, and replaced it with, “…here. But usually, if something is a type of number, we keep it as that numeric type. Sometimes this is an integer, a float, a decimal. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me. For now, can you change the text field to integers? We are counting clicks, so those are integers.”

“Yeah, okay,” Derrick responded. “I’ll make them numbers.”

An hour later, Derrick submitted another changeset.

“Hey, Derrick,” Matt messaged again, “Those count fields you set as numbers. They seem to be floating point numbers. Could you change them to integers? They’re counts. Some of the summaries are showing rounding errors- 4.99999997, etc.”

“Yeah, sure thing, Matt,” Derrick replied. “But hey, you really ought to specify these things precisely.”

In a fit of restraint, Matt did not quote his earlier message requesting that Derrick use integers. Matt knew he could count on many things, but the one thing he couldn’t count on was Derrick.

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