In memoriam...

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 happen.
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 daughter.
Peace. And respect.
To a fine upstanding man.


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