I worked with a number of my Apple colleagues for more than 20 years total at three different companies. Over the years several of them used “Doctor” or “The Doctor” as a kind of salutation for me.
In early 2010, as part of the creation of AirPrint, some new blood came into the printing team. Brian Strathmeier came in and immediately started doing great work on the testing front. And Brian loved nicknames. Rich Blanchard became “The Admiral”. Mike Sweet became “Captain CUPS”. (Mike is the author of the Common UNIX Printing System, typically referred to as CUPS.)
Because I’d done a lot of the graphics related work on the printing team and I’d written a book about programming Quartz, the 2D graphics system on iOS and OS X, I became “Captain Quartz”. It always made me laugh when he said it. Fairly quickly it became just “Captain”. After a while I became concerned if he referred to me as “David” since something must have been extremely serious. And when someone doing QA on your software comes to you seeming extremely serious, that’s cause for alarm.
By summer 2012 I was starting to entertain thoughts of making a change at work. I’d been working on printing for 25+ years and was starting to think about doing something different. I’d worked on a lot of great stuff at Apple but I was needing a break.
But to my great surprise I found out I was getting a promotion!
In honor of my birthday, I was being promoted from “Captain Quartz” to “Colonel Quartz”. Or, as Brian began calling me: “KER-NEL!”. As a memento of this special occasion they made a T-shirt for me with a “Colonel Quartz” logo. Brandon Chelotti, our superstar graphics designer on the team, created a logo from a photo of me that I had managed to sneak into the Programming with Quartz book.
So I got my promotion and a cool custom made T-shirt. We were going to my birthday lunch and they insisted that I go put on the shirt before we went. I came out of the bathroom after having changed and I encountered some of the jokers on my team, lined up like a photo from The Usual Suspects:
The blurry quality of this photo exists in part because I was laughing so hard when I took it. Left to right are Brandon Chelotti, Brian Strathmeier, Howard Miller, Todd Ritland, and Victor Peng.
As a group, the people on my team had planned, designed, and executed this hilarious and touching gift and promotion for me. Lovely.
The “Doctor” title has been retired but I did make one last house call for Brian.
Thanks to everybody on the team for doing something special.