Joel was one of the good guys. And there are precious few of
them in the world.
It's probably 15 years since we first met. He was the big hitter
brought in to do a job. I was a relative rookie.
He was an American who had travelled the world. I was your typical
Brit. But we were both into sport and beer and racks of ribs and
lots of things... How many Americans do you know who really feel at
home in a scuzzy London pub talking about football (both gridiron
and soccer) and how baseball and cricket have got much more in
common than you might think.
Joel was a hacker. In the days when being a hacker was something to
be proud of. When writing the code to get the job done was the most
important thing. And Joel wrote some damn fine code. And the reason
we got on so well was because I could see that. And say to him:
"That's pretty neat. But have you thought about this..."
And we'd kick it around. And next week the code would be tweaked,
and we'd be thinking about the next refinement.
But corporate culture doesn't take kindly to "mavericks".
Joel and I used to rage against management-speak, all buzz-word
phrases and no real action. Why spend half of your life in meetings
when you could have been using the time actually making things
The best thing Joel ever did was leave. I don't know if he ever
knew what a special moment it was to me when he, the "old
hand" sought counsel from me, "the rookie". And I
think he took great delight in screwing every last penny out of his
redundancy package. You know how much your employer loves you when
your company car is a 10-year-old Peugeot...
Joel had nothing left to prove to anyone. He'd been there and done
that several times over. Which is more than most of the
bean-counters in suits could ever say. So he cashed it all in. Sold
up, and moved back to America. Bought himself a few hundred acres
in Washington state and had the rest of his life to look forward
to. His life. Lived the way he wanted. Free from having to be
wage-slave or a salary-man.
But fate can be a cruel task-master. Just when he had got to where
he wanted to be, he was suddenly snatched from us. Precious little
warning. But ever the hardened professional right to the end. He
hung on in there until he knew that we knew.
Joel, may your God take good care of you. And your wife. And your
Peace. And respect.
To a fine upstanding man.