Monday, June 26, 2006

Monday I skipped out on work. It was pretty cool.
We finished the stuff we needed to do pretty early and grabbed coffee and kicked around until we could get into a movie.
Sunday night my lovely spouse and I attended a birthday gathering for a co-worker.
There were some weird workplace revelations for me, but the last sober people just seem to become everybody's priest or therapist eventually. It is the stage just past "sudden best friend".
There was an age difference at this party. We were about six years older than the next youngest person and about fifteen years younger than the next oldest. We were a bit of a thirty-something island.
Here is some stuff I learned from the collected experiences of my co-workers:

1. The drunk tank is not as cool now as it was a couple of years ago.
2. People with pure bred dogs tend to have a lot of things depicting that breed of dog.
3. Stoner math = 1 bag of chips is never enough.
4. I learned that our Director of IT is actually afraid of me and that's why he never talks to me.
5. There is a reason why I'm still employed even without an official on-the-books-type function.

I'll explain the last two in detail.
Things are cyclical in any company. Initiatives are born and they die pretty quickly only to be renamed and reborn another day. Sometimes the same people are attached to these "Zombie Projects" and sometimes "new blood" is needed.
At my company, one of these is "Product Definitions". See, we (and by "we" I mean our awesome sales team) offer a few different services.
People can have space and metered power, for example. That's basically real estate for computer hardware. We house it and protect it but if it breaks we won't know (or care unless you give us more money).
After that, we sell something called "Level 1". Level one is . . . um . . . well . . . we keep track of whether or not the server is powered on . . . and we might fix it . . . . kind of depends, I guess.
Ok, but "Level 3" we do "everything"! What's everything? Well, we monitor and fix and notify. Did you need other stuff? Yeah, we can do that, too. I'll just let the guys in the NOCC know they'll need to (insert freaking crazy impossible crap here) and as soon as you move your stuff in, your problems are all ours.
We sold one customer "Level 4" but no one knows what that is other than "more expensive" than "Level 3".
"Level 2" does not exist as far as I know. But it might. In fact, if someone is interested I can almost guarantee we would sell it.
So the products are in major need of definitions. However, if sales are bad it is because we don't have good definitions. If sales are good, who needs definitions? Why limit ourselves?
The first time I got dragged into a definitions meeting I asked questions. A lot of questions.
Some that I remember were:

"If we sell someone 'Level 3' and they bring in broken crap, do we fix it for free?"
"What if their stuff does specific junk and it isn't documented? Are we responsible if they don't tell us?"
"If they carry a server in and it breaks on the way in do we get blamed?"
"Do they provide the installation media?"
"When we are creating the documentation they didn't provide, if something breaks can we call them to find out what it did before we try to fix it?"
"Is there any solid guideline for anything?"

That meeting was declared a bust and the project was tabled -- for a while.
When I started this job it was non-stop firefighting. Junk broke and we had no triage standards or procedures so everything just got fixed when it got fixed. We were understaffed and completely blamed for everything. It was an awful time and right in the middle of it our Director called a meeting. He went around the room, yelling at people about schedules and paperwork and how everyone needs to assist the sales team and then he turned to me.
"How does the Windows team prioritize work?"
I considered it for a moment and then replied,"If I've got thirty things to do, and I'm going to get yelled at for the twenty-nine that don't get fixed, then I'll work on the one that is interesting. Not boring me is the sole criteria I work with for establishing what gets done first."
He had no response and I've thought for months that he was too angry to reply.
It turns out he had no idea if I was kidding. And I wasn't.
Since then he avoids me because he never knows how to take me. How awesome is that?
This is part of the reason I'm still employed, I guess. The main reason seems to be that I'm a "morale booster" when things really suck. My smart-assed comments have reduced turn over and improved productivity.
Honestly. That's not at all made up.
I guess it is a bit like a slacker super power, but snarkier.
Now I must find a way to use my powers for evil.

That is my project for Tuesday. And maybe someone will be brave enough to go ghost hunting after dark. So far, no takers.

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