Hat on Top, Coat Below


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March 10, 2003

Today started well enough, especially considering it’s Monday. I woke up a little before the alarm and my morning routine went smoothly. Deciding what to wear was even easy; when the temperature is this cold on a work day, it’s wool sweater time, and I’ve got only a few of those because I hate washing sweaters by hand and am not keen on having to take them to the dry cleaners, either. I was all ready to go with a few minutes to spare, so I folded the laundry still left on the drying racks from the weekend’s wash-a-thon and got that task off my list. Something accomplished before 8 a.m.; that’s an excellent feeling.

Then I got to work and opened my e-mail. Not only were there pages and pages of new messages, the ratio of ones I had to pay attention to ones I could ignore was unusually high. The guy I was covering for last week is back, and he’d sent a bunch of questions about things I’d done in his absence. Annoyingly, he also sent questions about things he thought I’d done but which were actually someone else’s handiwork, but I still had to respond to those, and politely, too, because he’ll be covering for me when I’m gone. The worst of it, though, were the many customer requests for fixes and changes. I stayed late on Friday to help with the setup of a new test server for the customer who moved their go live date up to April 1, and they’re now in a testing frenzy the likes of which we haven’t seen before. When I left on Friday, I had one only one open request from them, but by the time I finished reading my new e-mail this morning, I had seven and have been battling all morning to keep that number from growing any more.

I feel besieged. I complete a user request and two more pop up, or one I thought I’d completed reappears. Piddly changes that make me want to scream keep me from focusing on the meatier tasks, and nothing’s ever low priority. Knowing I’m not supposed to leave for the day with any requests assigned to me left open (except for ones that come in right at the end of the day; my boss is not that unreasonable), I look at this list that never seems to be getting shorter and begin to despair just a little. I’m surrounded and have no escape. Everyone else on the team is similarly beset by requests, so help won’t be forthcoming from them. Even the new guy is loaded up with stuff to do.

Yet even as I stress about when I’ll be able to go home tonight, I appreciate what bright spots there are. That I’m getting so many requests assigned to me means I’m seen as a capable programmer; considering the online system uses three languages that didn’t exist when I went to school, that’s an accomplishment and means it wasn’t a fluke when I came to work here and learned to program for the client server systems. And once in a while, I’ll open an e-mail sent in response to a completed request notification and instead of a follow up question or another request, it’ll say “thank you for the quick response” or simply “Perfect!”, so I know my customer appreciates what I ‘m doing. Of course, in the time it’s taken me to write this entry, my customer has entered three more requests for things I need to do before they can appreciate them, so I’d best get back to it.

B is for Beleaguered

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