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Case 199

Unwitting Accomplice

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Master Banzen was approached by his apprentice Djishin, who said: “The Temple needs a REST library with JSON support. I have located several third-party candidates, but I do not know how to choose among them.”

Banzen seemed taken aback. “Did you not author such a library yourself, and provide it to the Spider Clan?”

“Yes,” said Djishin, “but now it is a stone around my neck. Every week the Spider Clan requests some new feature or files a bug report, claiming the utmost urgency. And whenever anything goes wrong with our webservices I am summoned to investigate whether my code is the culprit! The story is the same for all the other libraries I have provided to our Temple. May I live ten thousand years and never write another!”

That afternoon Banzen went to the abbess Jinyu, saying:

“I wasted years trying to quell Djishin’s desire to write his own frameworks instead of acquiring well-known ones.* Time and again I showed him how his solutions were too ambitious, or too inflexible, or too insecure. Yet in the end he has been swayed not by my teachings, but by the pain of responsibility! Had I let him release his pitiful code to the Temple when he first became my apprentice I’d have saved myself a lifetime’s worth of bother!”

“The prolific developer may appear to enjoy work, yet that is not always so,” said Jinyu. “Everyone has tasks they enjoy and tasks they abhor. Djishin’s fault was that he was too lazy to look for solutions farther away than the tips of his fingers. Your fault was that you never looked past his Outer Industriousness to discover the Inner Laziness from which it came. Thankfully, Djishin’s former master warned me of the monk’s flaw before I took him in.”

Banzen’s jaw dropped open. “Why did you not mention this years ago?”

Jinyu rapped Banzen on the head with her cane. “Why did you never climb the steps to my office and ask my advice? Do not trouble my ears about Djishin—he learned well from your example.”

* See cases 78, 108, 109, 134, 167, 190.