A Saturday at Work

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This page last updated on 04/17/2017.

Copyright 2001-2017 by Russ Meyer


It's Saturday morning, February 8th and I'm at home surfing the web.  I hear my pager beep and go take a look.  Uh oh, I recognize the phone number.  Someone from work wants me to call them.  The only reason this ever happens on the weekend is if there's a problem with our equipment in the field.  The company I work for makes telephony switches and they have to be absolutely reliable.  I mean, what if you picked up the phone and couldn't dial 911.  Oh the law suits!

Anyway, I call the number.  It's Mitchell.  He tells me there is a problem with a switch owned by one of our customers.  His group was originally called in by Customer Support to analyze the situation.  Customer Support thought it was a problem with the code Mitchell's group owns.  He explains his appraisal of the situation and why he believes the problem is actually related to some software maintained by my group.  He's done a good analysis...it seems obvious my group's software is at fault.

I put down the phone and think about the symptoms of the problem.  I figure the best guy in my group to pick up the investigation is Jonathan.  He's the best expert on the software in question and actually developed the feature that appears to be giving us problems.  I try to look up his phone number in my pager.  Bummer drag...all my phone numbers for Jonathan are obsolete.  He recently moved so his old home phone number has been disconnected.  I try his mobile phone, but alas, that doesn't work either.  He recently changed his cellular service provider and his old mobile number changed too.  Ah...Becky.  His sister Becky lives about 20 miles away in a nearby city.  I give her a call but her husband answers.  I explain the situation and ask him if he has a new number for Jonathan.  He says "No," but he does have the mobile number for Jonathan's wife, Debbie.  I call Debbie's mobile, but it rolls over to voice mail.  Ah well, I leave voice mail for Jonathan anyway.  I tell him to call Customer Support in the war room and that I plan to go into work.  Hopefully he'll get the message pretty soon.

As I hang up the phone, I consider calling other people in the group.  If I can't raise Jonathan within the next 15 minutes or so, I'll have to start pulling out the stops and drag in anyone I think can help.  I could bring in Charles or Min.  They live pretty close and chances are I would be able to locate them via their mobile phones.  I try calling Charles, but am rolled over to voice mail.  I didn't leave a message.  I decide to give Jonathan a few minutes.  All-in-all, getting him on the job is the most efficient thing to do, even if it means waiting a bit.  In the meantime, I decide to head into work to assess the situation myself.  If Jonathan hasn't responded by the time I get there, I'll kick out the jambs and get someone else on the problem.

I change clothes and pull on my coat.  I plan to walk to work since I live nearby and it only takes about 13 minutes to walk there.  That will give Jonathan some time to get my message.  I grab my Nikon to take a few photos along the way.  Hey, this is Saturday and I want to enjoy myself somehow!  Jane bids me adieu and I begin my journey.

It's pretty cold out and by the time I get to work, my face is numb.  I stop by my office to see if Jonathan has left me voice mail.  No dice.  I look around for Mitchell, but don't see him.  He's probably in either the development lab or the "war room."  The war room is where Customer Support stages investigations into emergency field problems.  It's kind of like a tactical nerve center with lots of speaker phones, terminals, etc.  Everything you need to get a group of guys together to tackle a problem.  The development lab is close by, so I head there first.  I hear voices a couple of aisles over, and stop by hoping to find Mitchell.  It's Benji and Jack.  I ask them if they know anything about the field problem.  Benji says he's been peripherally involved and that Mitchell is down in the war room.  Off I go.  I feel kind of thirsty so I stop by the break room on the way and grab a Pepsi.

I get to the war room and am surprised to see so many people there.  I hear Jonathan's voice on the speaker phone talking to a Raman.  Raman hangs up just as I enter the room.  He says Jonathan thinks he knows what the problem is.  He's going to connect to the company network from home to work on the problem.  Great, that will save time since he won't have to commute to work.  I see my buddy Ed there and sit down next to him.  Ed and Raman tell me they came in today to work on other things but got pulled into the field problem.  I talk to the Customer Support guys and get their appraisal of the situation.  They say the customer isn't too concerned about it...yet.  Mitchell and another guy named Jon fill me in on a few more technical issues, then there's nothing left to do but wait and let Jonathan handle it.  The problem is something we need to solve, but not a super big deal.  No need to panic, the switch is basically healthy and we can afford to let Jonathan work through the problem at a normal pace.  I chat with Ed some more, then decide to go back to my desk to call Jonathan and get his take on the situation.  I grab a photo of the war room as I'm leaving.  That's my buddy Ed there in the middle.

I call Jonathan and what he tells me is re-assuring.  He describes what he thinks is wrong and what he plans to do.  Sounds like he has the problem well in hand.  He's certain he will be able to get a patch out in a couple of hours.  Man, he's a good guy.  Makes my job so easy!  I just cruise around and watch all these sharp guys jump on the problems.  They're making the right judgments and running hard.  There's nothing quite like working with competent peers!

I sit at my desk for a while and surf the web.  My camera batteries are running low, so I take them over to a battery charger and juice them up a bit.  I walk over and find Mitchell at his desk.  We chat about the problem for a while.  The customer is due to upgrade to a new software load tonight.  Customer Support has not been able to duplicate the problem on that load.  They assume the problem will go away as soon as the upgrade is accomplished.  As a result, they have decided to just wait it out and let the problem be overtaken by the upgrade tonight.  They don't want to risk putting in a patch now when, in a little over 12 hours, the problem will be eradicated anyway.  The Customer says they can live with the problem until then, no sweat.  So the die is cast.

I walk back to my desk and call Jonathan again, informing him of the situation and that Customer Support won't need a patch.  Jonathan says he'll keep looking at it a bit, just to make sure everything will be OK after the upgrade.  Sounds good to me, though unnecessary since we already conducted the tests in our labs and everything checked out.  Still, Jonathan's thoroughness is admirable.  I tell him I'm going to head home since the situation seems resolved.  I ask him to call me if he finds anything in the code.  I take a photo of me sitting at my desk, then depart.