Thursday, October 17, 2013

India Indians

I feel like this is an odd thing to blog about, particularly after such a long absence from this site, but you know . . . the heart blog what the heart blogs.

I'd like to relate this odd part of my job that brings me inexplicable joy. Every week, our software updates. Developers used to write just a handful of what we call release notes about these updates, and clients and employees were mad they weren't getting more information before things in the software would change. So I was assigned to get the developers to write more release notes, and to shift the paradigm internally that the release notes do not always stink.

To accomplish this, I bribe everyone. I bribe the developers every week with a $10 gift card to whoever writes the "best" release notes (a subjective designation, to be sure, decided entirely by me. No complaints yet but I'm sure they'll come . . .).  And, I bribe every other employee in the company with a fun-sized Snickers.

It didn't start that way. My original idea was to hide a little easter egg somewhere in the email (these easter eggs would take the form of a line of text, hidden amongst all the developer-written release notes, that people would only see if they were earnestly reading the release notes then stumbled across a phrase, movie quote, song lyric, something, that wasn't a release note). Then, people would come to my desk, tell me the easter egg and a release note that stood out to them (cool new feature, useful new update, etc.) and I would give them this piece of candy.

And I get it, you know? We're all adults, this all has a general haze of condescension that I really didn't intend but when you offer employees a fun-sized carrot . . . not everyone will be thrilled. I didn't expect everyone in the company to come running for candy.

Having said that, the response has been pretty positive. The unexpected part was the other offices in the company (Provo, Dallas, India) got fairly upset they weren't included. To get a fun-size candy bar. . . . Yes. You read that correctly. All the same, I was glad they wanted to participate and I recruited some candy-disher-outers in the other offices to be proxy for me.

I love getting emails from salespeople we have on the road, in their own regions. I love getting emails from people down the hall from me, not interested in candy and too lazy to come talk to me, but still wanting to participate. I love the boisterous messages from employees in Dallas. But by far, the absolute best part of all of this, has been responses from employees in India.

First of all, they have the most employees in their offices, so they send the most emails. I think if I were to do a ratio of responses to employees though, I would also find that they have more people per capita responding than anywhere else. People drinkin' my Kool-Aid will always warm my heart.

Then there's the fact that most people around the Utah offices have seen me or have sent me other emails about documentation at some point. Our offices in India only employ developers and QA specialists. I have no contact with anyone in India because they're really not looking for client-facing documentation. And yet their emails are always so nice! As if we're friends already. And naturally I respond in the same way because I wish we were friends already.

And finally, I love the language barrier. I'm sorry, but I really do. Last week the easter egg was the button combination you have to push on a controller (or arcade cabinet) to throw the special move in the video game, Super Street Fighter, called the Hadouken. Down, down-forward, forward, punch. One developer in India sent me an explanation about how one of the software updates tied in with Japanese culture and how that was the easter egg. Obviously I've done a terrible job of explaining the game, but it was also rad to get this random, close reading analysis of a release note of all things.

The past two weeks I've just happened to be working late on Thursday evenings. I start to see email responses from India pour in, due to the time difference, and gleefully respond to every single one, along with telling my candy proxy every name so they are "approved" to get whatever sweet treat is being provided over there. Tonight, I brought home my work laptop to do more work but ended up shelving it and watching YouTube from my bed, along with chatting a friend and catching up on Tumblr.

I forgot that I kept open my work email though and slowly I started seeing the first of the India email responses land in my inbox. At first I thought maybe I would quickly sign out and wait for tomorrow to deal with them all, but then someone started chatting me from India, about the game and the candy and the release notes. With a sigh and a smile, I began writing down how many people had emailed, forwarding their names on, and responding to their emails. For "working" on a Thursday night, it sure was a blast, for just a few seconds per email, to connect with the other side of the world, to create new relationships, to feel like we have some kind of report even though we'll probably never ever meet.

This really has no point. This was also probably one of the more boring posts I've ever written. I just love emailing my friends in India. I used to have no desire to travel there, but if maybe I got to travel their for work, it would be more appealing . . .

1 comment:

Caitlan said...

I loved this. And I love that you bribe your coworkers... I may take a leaf from your book.