The Worst Day of My Career: A Lesson in Self-Inflicted Disasters

Embark on a gripping journey through 'The Worst Day of My Career,' where a late-night coding decision spirals into a crisis, teaching hard-learned lessons on the importance of caution and controlled workflows in software development.

Developer amid chaos and clarity in coding crisis
From Turmoil to Triumph: Navigating the Stormy Seas of Software Development
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The Set Up

My sister's advice always echoed in my mind: "Never commit code after 10 PM." But I learned the hard way just how true that was. This story is a stark reminder that disasters in tech are often self-inflicted and not just external woes imposed on developers.

The Night Before

It was a Thursday night, and I was prepping for a trip to New York for a wedding. Bags packed, house tidy, I was winding down for a relaxing weekend. To unwind, I planned to tackle some technical debt during the flight. I had been battling with my local environment, so I decided to freshen things up with a clean install the next day. Nonchalantly, I ran the cleanup script and went to bed, oblivious to the storm brewing.

The Next Morning

The morning alarm was a series of missed calls and an alarming email: the client's site was down. Inheriting a site prone to outages didn't prepare me for this. As I rushed to the airport, my morning transformed into a frantic race against time to fix a Sev 1 outage.

I Found The Problem...

In the car, my mobile war room buzzed to life. But restarts and checks led nowhere. Diving into the logs, a new issue emerged: database authentication failure. The sinking realization hit me like a freight train: "I deleted the production database!" The cleanup script I ran nonchalantly the night before had wiped out the live database.

Fixing the problem

Facing the music with the client was daunting, but their response, "Let's fix this first," gave me a sliver of hope. The backup process began, but the realization that I missed a more recent snapshot added salt to the wound. Despite restoring the site, the loss of data and the opportunity to minimize it weighed heavily on me.

The Kicker

After the site was live again, I discovered a newer snapshot that could have significantly reduced data loss. But it was too late, and the decision to not repeat the recovery process meant accepting the loss and moving forward.


This experience is a reminder that developers aren't always victims of external circumstances; sometimes, we're architects of our own downfall. The urge to fix things can lead to late-night blunders. It's a lesson in humility and the importance of caution.

How Do We Improve

  1. Avoid Late-Night Work: Tired minds make poor decisions. Stepping away and returning with a fresh perspective is often more productive.
  2. Controlled Access to Production: Implement strict controls and automation to prevent direct, unmonitored access to production databases.
  3. Robust Backup Strategies: Regular, incremental backups can be lifesavers, allowing for minimal data loss in such scenarios.

This story serves as a cautionary tale for all developers: vigilance, controlled workflows, and knowing when to step back are as crucial as any coding skill.