When I first met Cumulus, they were working out of a borderline-sketchy kind of warehouse space they had outgrown long before I showed up.
My job was to “make things better.” Initially, this had a lot to do with boxes and taking out garbage. I threw out a pile of flattened boxes about three feet high early on. The boxes had been stacked and tossed and shoved into a massive pile that consumed the small loft that hovered over the space. These people have no idea how dangerously close they came to becoming an episode of Hoarders.
Despite the mess, they are very good people. I’d been there only a short time when, one day, the bottom fell out of a box of stuff I was moving. Instantly I was surrounded by people who had everything picked up before I’d even registered what happened. One of them was on the phone the entire time and never missed a beat, I think he even made a sale. They were halfway back to their desks before I managed to say “thank you.”
I am not an engineer, but I am married to one, which is almost the same thing. (That last sentence exists only to make the engineers laugh.) So I am not fazed when a new hire tells me he was at his previous job for “roughly” 7.62 years, or when I walk into the kitchen to find a completely disassembled coffee grinder and two slightly guilty looking engineers.
Did you know it takes 30 lbs. of pressure to correctly pack espresso? I do, because the CEO of Cumulus mentioned it while explaining how to use the steampunk work of art that is our espresso machine. I’m not much of an espresso drinker, and I know his opinion of me dimmed slightly at this news. It took an even bigger hit when I purchased a drip coffee machine for the rest of the mildly-disappointing hires.
The only thing about the Cumulus engineers that has been a terrible disappointment to me has to do with the lunch tables. I have never met an engineer that could tolerate a wobbly chair or table. When we moved out of the sketchy warehouse, we bought some new furniture. I was thrilled when I saw that our new tables had feet you could adjust because I knew I wouldn’t be finding stacks of sugar packets stuffed under any of them. Here’s the devastating part: My engineers don’t care! We’ve got wobbly tables all over the place! The only conclusion that makes any sense to me is that they are so incredibly focused on making our software rock, they are suppressing their natural instincts.
Once I was sitting at my desk when one of the engineers returned from a walk. This particular engineer isn’t really a walker. He was clearly churning on some very prickly problem. I asked how things were going. He came over to me, leaned forward slightly, pointed at his head and said, “ten years ago, more hair, and no grey.” He shook his head ruefully and walked away. This was not a man with time for wobbly tables.
Now about the biz people…