So I got out of work at 10:30 tonight. I was packing up to go off to a weekend of relaxation at about 6 pm when someone came over and said the site was blowing up. I looked, and sure enough it was. Worse was, I couldn’t connect to the server to see what the heck was going on. The ssh daemon had died. Performance got worse and worse until finally no pages were being generated. And blah blah blah.

The details aren’t germane.

But as I went through this some part of my brain was watching me go through the stages of a tech emergency:

1) Denial: “Ah, its just you. Reboot your system or something. It works fine for me!”
2) Avoidance: “Hey, I didn’t work on that new project…I shouldn’t have to fix it!”
3) Acceptance: Of course, everyone else fled the building the second the work-day ended so you’re stuck with it.

These three phases come and go very quickly.

4) Annoyance: “All right, let me restart the services and get things going again so I can leave.”
5) Panic: “Crap, this isn’t working! Now what do I do!!?”
6) Rage: “Its so not fair that the idiots that caused this [editorial note…it may of course be that no one caused the problem, but the rage phase doesn’t let facts stand in the way of a good tantrum] are out drinking with their pals and I’m stuck here trying to clean up after them!”

These three phases can last a while and they’re very unpleasant and generally not at all productive.

7) Acceptance and calming: Eventually the logical brain kicks in and realizes that the sooner you cool off and fix the issue, the sooner you can leave.
8) Tech Machismo: This is when it starts getting a little fun. Suddenly, you’re the quarterback, you’re the star. You’re the guy who is going to swoop in and fix it. You’re the go-to guy. The one everyone can count on. You’re getting pumped in this stage and it leads to…
9) The Zone: This is where you’re flying. You’re fielding 8 things at once, and the endorphins and adrenaline are pumping like mad. You’re mainlining your stress at this point. You’re typing in commands while reading an IM and talking on the cell phone, keeping the bosses updated while coordinating whatever co-workers have come online and sifting log files and … there are a ton of balls in the air but YOU AREN’T DROPPING A SINGLE ONE! You get closer and closer to the answer…

And then suddenly…its fixed. Its almost a let-down. But you’re also tired as hell so you know its good that it stopped. Ideally, you’ve come up with a complete and total solution, but truthfully that’s not usually the case. Generally ‘the fix’ is that you have things running well enough that the pressure has eased and you can do a more thorough diagnostic to determine what went wrong, preferably after a good night’s sleep.

Anyway, the point of all this, besides self-amusement, is wondering how to get to that headspace of phases 8 and 9 without having to have the sky falling. Because that’s how I used to operate most of the time, and back then, I loved my work. I really enjoyed going to work.

These days, not so much. Nothing I do gives me any pride or joy…except when everything goes to shit and I manage to fix it. And these phases…it wasn’t just tonight…I’ve seen them over and over again. I seem to have to go through all the stupid ones to get to the ‘good’ ones.

I’m tired and I’m blathering, but I guess thats what a blog is for, right? Time for sleep now….

2 thoughts on “Work

  1. I was at work until about 9:30 if it makes you feel any better. Of course, it wasn’t because of a problem, but just that our accounting is stuck in the 1870s. And I was mostly in the “despair” phase, which you don’t seem to have up there.

    Nice new blog, btw… I hadn’t realized you were blogging again.

  2. Despair sometimes replaces the Panic phase if its something that has broken over and over again. And believe me, that happens. Far too often, actually. Ah well…

    And yup, I’m making yet another go at blogging. I’m really liking this new package, WordPress. Unfortunately the comment moderation is a pain for legit people, but the amount of spam I had on the old blog…the comments table was bigger than the posts table, and I had maybe a dozen ‘real’ comments. All the rest was porn and drug spam. 🙁

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