We choose to go to the Moon in this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills; because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too!
—John F. Kennedy, 1962
It’s partly reluctance, and partly overwork that’s stopped me writing over the past couple of weeks — much as I hate getting up early enough to make a roll for lunch, so I’d rather watch Family Guy and play the Assassin’s Creed games instead of opening this web-based editing suite to write stuff that I’ve probably already written, in multiple different ways, over the past seven years.
But I’m not quite repeating this post, although I’m certainly facing increase in one form of personal torture, and hopefully thus my endurance. This time, it’s at work that I’m expending greater effort, in the hope that I’ll be regarded as indispensible…
It turns out that my first-line helpdesk colleague, who was absent on “career break” last year for reasons to which I was not officially privy, has now left our organisation entirely, after having begun working there in the early 21st century. He’d been off quite a bit beforehand, but since he was in last Tuesday, and no “leave” was showing up for him in the team calendar, I’d politely assumed he was off sick (though of course I hoped it wasn’t a similar issue to the lead-up to my months-long sick leave in the summer of 2018).
“Boss lady” didn’t officially tell us until Monday, and the rest of the organisation a couple of days later, apparently due to “legal” arrangements needing to be made before the announcement. She said he’s moved on to pastures new, but it seems he really was crying at his desk after a meeting earlier in the month, and had been told his days at our employer were numbered. He never told me anything, but my workmates suspected all along…
And there’s always the risk that our team will be “outsourced”, whatever the hell that means (seeing as there are plans under IR35 to make IT contractors pay employee levels of tax without having employee rights to things like paid leave), so I’ve been told by a fellow Trekkie to stay on “yellow alert”, in case I’m next to face the axe.
(Needless to say, I don’t want a five-year cycle meaning I have to relive events around this time in 2014, December being a bad time for finding work!)
However, rather than preparing to jump into a lifeboat, I’m trying to bail out the ship for the time being — hence despite the physical pains I faced a few weeks ago, a bad cough coming on this week, public transport woes, and the fact that my colleague departed at the time of several major projects, I’ve continued going in to work every day, forcing myself to get on with things, and trying to hold back any kind of snapping at people (except maybe to ask them to talk a bit more quietly), not wanting to go on sick leave like I did as the new guy in late 2015.
I won’t go into detail about the major tasks, except to say they involve (a) security, (b) homeworking ability and (c) more desks in the downstairs office (and thus more network connections); since these occur at the same time as fixing the usual problems, I’ve been very overworked lately — and having a cough and sore throat this week made it hard to speak to people. I’ve been in trouble for that before, and at times I’ve just not felt up to apologising to people for “feeling like Death warmed up”, or even making eye contact with people with whom I normally have a humorous exchange.
This Tuesday was the worst of all, because as I, amongst many other jobs, replaced keyboards and mice for an entire team (who fortunately were understanding), I worried with all my heart about our new dog Lola, who was undergoing a serious operation down in Worthing — because if she died, I’d certainly be upset, but my mother and grandmother would be devastated, this new addition to the family having made them truly happy. Fortunately she was fine (indeed, the operation went “surprisingly well”), which has lighted my burden in that sense, as I won’t need to think about abandoning London so I can return home and comfort my folks.
The two geniuses in my team (senpai and the bloke who looks like an Asian Eddie Hitler) can give me guidance and expand my knowledge beyond 1st line, and indeed have taught me some important tasks (including the most important security-based ones of all, VPN and 2FA), but they’ve got so much to take care of, they can only give me limited support — and without our missing gentleman, I’ve thus go sooo much to do at work that my ticket queue seems to be growing exponentially…
(No, VPN doesn’t mean “visible panty nine”, and 2FA doesn’t mean “two, er, nothing”!)
And no, I can’t work evenings or weekends: aside from the important hours when people generally need help being 9-to-5, apparently only those two can claim overtime pay anyway, and “boss lady” knows when I’ve been remoting onto my work computer after hours, thus I am discouraged from working too hard.
Thus I need to slow down and not worry so much about how long it’s taking to take care of minor tasks (with people who aren’t even in the office at the time, or can’t answer a simple question about their problem), and be thankful that, as a member of an IT team, I can fix many problems simply by standing nearby! Perhaps this is why “boss lady” has been refreshingly patient with me lately, as despite my problems, I’ve kept going.
And I feel I must be available to help out with important, urgent tasks when I’m needed — such as today, when the aforementioned Asian Eddie was off without explanation just as we finally replaced an old Win8 machine with a Win10 one that could run a version of our door security software that wasn’t written around the time our departed colleague began working for our employer, possibly for Win2000 or even Win98. That was an onerous time (which made it hard to have even a late lunch), but “boss lady” agreed at how inexperienced the engineers seemed to be about their own software!
I guess I can cover for others when it’s life or death — something I must learn, so that I’ll either be kept on as an essential member of the team, or I’ll get a good reference for my next job. Hey, at least the staff like me, and I don’t work for a bank helpdesk — that kind of staff would demand I fix their computer NOW, as every minute costs them money!
(One reason that the collective noun for bankers is “wunch”…)
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P.S. I’ve got burdens at my London home too: not only handling billing (and thanks to E.ON for not writing off their billing mistake, and insisting we pay them what they undercharged us for before), but also living with “still new bad housemate”, who’s managed to be a lot more condescending than any other housemate I’ve ever had who moved in years after me! I wonder if he’ll even agree to monthly energy payments, seeing as he didn’t think himself liable for any fraction of the household TV licence… thus I vow: if I need a new job, I’ll find a new home!