First off, I’ve been “on call,” which means that my time is literally not my own. I must carry my mobile with me at all times so I can respond to an Alert within 5 minutes. I must be within quick distance to a computer so I can log into work within 30 minutes to investigate the Alert. These Alerts can come in at any time, day or night, 24×7, and believe me, they have been.
During the best of times, this is an annoyance. I don’t like it when my off-hours are not my own, so at a minimum, it’s irksome. But this week has not been the best of times; I left “irksome” behind on Friday afternoon. We had a large implementation on Friday (when my tour started) and it’s been a poop-storm all week with Alerts coming in at all hours, including one yesterday, a “major outage” that brought several teams into SWAT calls to address what turned out to be a minor outage that had been overstated by at least one order of magnitude, possibly two.
Second, I’ve been “matrixed” to a new team to work on a “hot” (read as “ill-planned”) project using data I know little to nothing about. Task One was to estimate how long it would take me to build the programs they needed. Task Two was to find out just how wrong those estimates were.
I’m in the middle of Task Two.
Making matters worse, these factors are in direct conflict with one another. I start working on a program, and an Alert comes in. I’m in a SWAT call for an Alert, and one of the testers pings me with questions about one of the programs. Each time I shift gears, I lose momentum until, by the end of the day, I’ve spent 9-10 hours hitting the brakes and spinning my wheels, achieved entirely too little, and have nothing to look forward to but going home and fielding Alerts from there.
Needless to say, I’ve had about zero energy for anything else. I’ve been “deficit spending” all week, and the only solace is the 43 pages of the new book I’ve been trying to read, and the tender attentions of my wife (Thank you, dear!)
Thankfully, there are only about 24 hours before my on-call tour ends, and about 26 hours before my work-week ends.
I think I’ll mark the end of it with a reverse havdalah.
Havdalah (Hebrew: הַבְדָּלָה) means “separation,” and is the Jewish ritual wherein you mark the end of the Sabbath and usher in the new week. In essence, you’re marking the end of the sacred, the holy, the celebratory, and girding your loins for the return to reality.
I’m going to switch this around. My “reverse havdalah” will mark the transition from the mind-exhausting combination of constant vigilance and interrupted focus to the serenity and quiet of simple living. In this ritual, I shall:
- Silence my phone
- Take a drive in an open-top car
- Sit in a quiet place surrounded by nature
- Have a stiff drink
See you on the other side.