Thursday, December 09, 2004

War stories

On my second to last day at Very Big Publishing Company (tm), I didn't leave work until about 10 pm. Some of you may not find that odd -- you work those hours regularly. The really good thing about this job was the incredibly regular hours. Get there by 9 am, out the door between 5 and 6 pm, and never have projects carried over to the next day. So our shock was palpable today when 6 came and went, and then it was 7, and ohmigod, 8 and oh hell, 9, are we ever, ever going to get out of here?

Things started to get a little crazy around 9. The DC office was banging their collective heads against the wall, I couldn't figure out whether I wanted to laugh or cry at the long list of Oracle codes the tech guy IM'd me. "Update Oracle manually!" he suggested. And I suddenly saw a night reaching into the wee hours and tears seemed to be the way to go. But our tech people pulled a miracle and I didn't have to update Oracle manually, and when one of my tables came out blank -- repeatedly -- we decided to call it a night and go without.

The point is, the night was a war story. One of the tech people in DC IM'd me to say, "I'm banging my head repeatedly against a brick wall. Nothing is happening." And then someone else IM'd me to say, "I'm laughing hysterically. I cannot stop." I IM'd Big Boss at one point and said, "Tell me hte truth. Are we on 'Candid Camera'?" We all left tonight, feeling as if we'd done the best we could, that we'd gone above and beyond the call of duty and maybe the issue was missing some information, but at no time did someone say, "I quit." Everyone hung in there until Big Boss said there was no use, the table was going to be stubbornly blank, and everyone should go home.

Situations like this, you feel closer to the people you work with. You remember that feeling of hysteria, the OHMYGODICANNOTBELIEVEWEARESTILLHERE laments, the camaraderie, the brainstorming, and the pulling together. It's the type of situation, when years down the road, you're sitting around and you say, "Remember that night when the database went down? When all the reports came out blank? Remember that night when we were so into what we were doing we were actually crazy enough to think about updating Oracle manually? Remember?" I like that feeling, that we believe in what we do is so important that no one is willing to let go until it's absolutely necessary. And more importantly, I like that through it all, we managed to retain our sense of humor.

I'm not going to miss the job, but those are some great people I work with. I just wish it wasn't on the second-to-last day of my tenure at Very Big Publishing Company (tm) that I got to see just how very cool and graceful they are under pressure. Things happen for a reason, and I think tonight's catastrophic database failure happened so I could see what I'd been wanting to see all along. I'm going to miss these guys.

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