I’m not sure if I want to put this up immediately or if it’s even the right thing to do but I gotta talk about it. Today I received some terrible news. A friend that I worked closely with for a good part of career at MapQuest, Mike, passed away recently. I only knew him for a little more than a year but during that time I learned a lot from him. He had been one of those long time survivors of the company back when it went through drastic change. He knew more about the people and processes here than many give him credit for. And he was a funny guy. Real friendly, with a legendary reputation for avoiding the hard stuff, this guy was the most fun to work with. I don’t know if others realize how outgoing he was. It’s funny because the guys here would clown on us because I was always in his cube fixing some Eclipse problem and it looked like I was doing his work for him. He had the notoriety for getting away with stuff and being lazy but from what I saw he really knew how to get stuff done without working hard. You could give him a task and no matter how difficult or impossible it seemed like on the outset he would deliver results in under a day, less than an hour at times.
Developers rarely agree on any approach to a problem and we were no different. I remember discussion Mike and I had regarding test driven design (this guy was the complete antithesis of T.D.D. which made our working together so hilarious) and no matter what I said or thought I knew he could show me a way of approaching the problem from the other side. We never argued about approaches, I trusted him and he trusted me and we made things work (using two completely different philosophies). I made him do some TDD which was fun because I had him tuck what I always thought was monolithic brittle code behind a polished interface. At the same time he watched me struggle and abandon my practices when deadlines got tight. We had discussions where I just knew what I was talking about and would rant for a good twenty minutes until he’d say something as simple as, “why don’t you just compare two values for equality?” That would not only remind me of how arrogant and over engineered my ideas were but how simplistic getting stuff done should always be a priority. There were plenty of other moments where you truly had to be there to understand and I wish I could list them all. The most colorful situations were the Easter eggs we started putting in our mobile app. It got to a point where we were battling to see who could get away with the most crap. I’ll never forget how he had our product manager apologizing for a prank Mike played on him.
I didn’t get to really know Mike personally but he seemed like the kinda guy I could really warm up to. I pray for his family and I’ll miss him.