Monday, December 14, 2009

Crazy, Busy Work and SIMHG Drama

So, work has been extremely busy. I have to say though, for the most part, it’s been a “good” busy. More and more I am enjoying the interaction with my team and a lot of the new stuff that I’m learning. A couple of months ago we went through a big reorganization where a couple of parallel groups merged with ours. One group in particular my team has always worked very closely with and it made quite a lot of sense to me that we eventually should be part of the same team. I feel that the change has already been beneficial, we’re all working together better than ever before and the communication has improved greatly.

Once the merge happened, I stepped forward to my manager (who is also now the manager of the newly merged group) and volunteered to help out with some of our new operations responsibilities. Most likely I would have been asked to do this anyway, but at least I maybe get credit for also volunteering! (I was eager to do so though) In any case, I’ve been very excited and enthusiastic about all the new stuff that I now have the opportunity to learn and take on. It’s adding quite a load to my workload, but this is all very interesting work and is overall increasing my value to the team and to the company.

One of the down sides, however, is that I now have to be on-call for a weeks time, every four or five weeks. The on-call shift is from 8 AM to 8 PM and I have to be able to respond and deal with situations within a very short period of time. The worst part of this is the 5 PM - 8 PM part of it, the weeks that I’m on-call means that I will be unable to plan or really do anything much outside of work because of the requirement that I be available until 8 PM. That is a bummer.

I did my first on-call rotation a few weeks ago and it was completely harrowing. Most of the days I was paged throughout the day, all the way up to 8 PM. Because this is all so new to me (and because I am also not yet UNIX literate) it was extremely nerve wracking because in most cases I had absolutely no idea what to do. I expect it all to get much easier as I learn and become competent with this stuff, but in the meantime, it’s really an anxiety-producing situation. The operations guys who are new to our team (but who has been doing this alone up until now) have been absolutely fantastic about training and helping throughout this process. I would be lost without them. As an added note, these two guys have been alternating their on-call weeks for at least the past year (if not more). So each has been on-call every other week -- that means that these guys have not been able to have a life for two weeks out of each month! Anyway, they’ve been available and helpful and uncomplaining about it all. Well, I guess it’s in their best interest to make sure that everyone is up to speed, so that they can have some of their lives back.

Along with myself, we have a new technician who joined our staff a few months ago through a program our company has in Ireland. The idea is to hire promising people over there straight out of college and then put them in a kind of bootcamp for a year. They are then offered up as candidates for hire at various business units throughout the company. I have been working with NG (New Guy) to teach him some of the stuff that I do and am mentoring him on a project with one of our customers and he’s also learning the operations stuff, so we have both been spending a lot of time sitting in the cubicles of the operations guys.

Anyway, so NG has had his first week of on-call rotation, I have had mine, the two operations guys have had at least one rotation each over the past couple of months and supposedly SIMHG (Self-Important Meeting Hijack Guy) is also supposed to take a turn. I think this is SIMHG’s first week of on-call, but since he is generally so absent from the rest of the team (I mean, I don’t believe that I saw him AT ALL for the entire month of November and for part of the month of October), I’m never quite sure.

Okay, so here is my rant (you KNEW that there was a rant):

I was scheduled to be on-call for next week (yes, that’s right, Christmas week). NG was supposed to be on-call for the week after. However, NG already had had plans to go back to Ireland for the holidays before the whole on-call thing started, so we have to rearrange things and cover his week. So, one of the operations guys was going to take his week, but then asked me if I would switch weeks with him because he is expecting a house guest and wanted to be able to spend time with him. So, no problem, we confirmed and sorted everything out today and then updated my manager so that he knew the on-call schedule was changing and that everything was going to be covered. I then spoke to mgr about my plan to use my remaining two vacation days for the year. I was waiting to schedule them because I wanted to have the on-call plans sorted out first, because I obviously can’t schedule the time off if I have to be on-call. So since OP (Operations Guy) wanted to switch, I am NOT on-call next week, but will be the week after -- I scheduled for those two days off for next week. Mgr said “okay, no problem.”

Okay, so once we had everything straightened out and I had cleared my vacation days with my manager, I sent a calendar item to the rest of the team to let them know what days I will be out. Well! I received an email response (just to me) from SIMHG with a piece cut & paste in from the on-call spreadsheet informing me that I need to switch my on-call responsibilities for those days and that he is also planning to be out then (in other words: don’t ask him to cover).

Well, first of all, does he think that I am so stupid or irresponsible that I would not check and account for the on-call schedule? Secondly, where has he been during all of our on-call training and conversations? He is the LAST person I would ask. Lastly, he was off Thanksgiving Week, he is now also off for Christmas Week? If we all have to share operations support, why does he have the privilege of having all the holiday weeks off? The more I think about his email, the madder I get! He is NOT MY MANAGER!

I think that I have to come up for a nastier name for him than, “Self-Important-Meeting Hijack Guy”. Seriously.

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