I really should have this down to a science by now. Actually, hell with science. I should have this down to an art. But still, even after going back and forth from DC for 7 weeks in the beginning of the year, and random trips for the rest of it up to DC and New Jersey, I’m a pitifully bad traveler.
I’ve figured out a couple tricks that minimize my screw-ups. Pack at least one extra day’s worth of clothes. Even if it’s July, pack a sweatshirt. Even if it’s January, pack a T-shirt. I have a toiletries bag that I keep a travel-sized deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, and some hair bidgies in.
But still. Every trip I forget something. Comfortable shoes. Toothpaste (the leave-in-the-bag items were a direct result of that misbegotten trip). Allergy drugs (wasn’t that a wonderful week). I’ve given up hoping that I’ll actually remember everything I need, and now I hope I forget something minor, that I can fairly easily do without or replace. This is just a one day trip, so I’m packing fairly light, which I hope means that whatever I do forget, I’ll at least be quickly reunited with on my return.
“Attention… attention please… the fire alarms will be periodically going off for the rest of the day. This is only a test, do not be alarmed.”
I won’t be alarmed. I will think about using a pencil to poke out my eardrums, though.
We’re on the car ride in this morning, and Evan pipes up from the back seat.
“Hey, Matt. Did you leave your laptop at the office?”
“Yes.” I say. I mean, of course, that I left my work laptop at the office. My personal laptop, my PowerBook, never leaves my side.
“Okay,” he says. “You’ll have to go to the computer room to get it when you get in. They locked it up for the night.”
“What? Why’d they do that?” I can, however, guess the answer before he tells me.
“They’ve had a problem with laptops walking off. Bruce had his stolen, Jaime had hers stolen, so you can’t leave them out anymore.”
I wonder if it’s safe to leave my suitcoat hanging on the back of my chair while I go to get a drink of water….
Right. So here’s the deal. At least, here’s the deal as best as I understand it.
It all started sometime last week. One of the Big Manager Types finally had it pounded into his manager-sized brain that one of the big problems the project was having was that people were entering the wrong data.
I know, I know, who’d have thought that when you let people enter in data, you have to be strict about checking it out, making sure that every piece of it jived and matched with things it was supposed to and that sort of thing. Anyway, they finally convince him that this sort of thing has to be done. And so he does what all managers do when a new piece of information entered his existence.
So, I bought some rather expensive new shirts, took the train up here yesterday, was stranded at the train station for a while until the guy who was supposed to pick me up got my messages and remembered he’d said he’d pick me up, had a pepperoni and sausage pizza for dinner that had sausage that visually resembled dog vomit (but wasn’t too bad, and doesn’t seem to have made me sick), got into my suit, and into the office today to find out that…
… no one’s really ready to go yet.
I know, I’m surprised, too.
Oh, I got to do a little work. Talked to one of the managers, got him to understand that when I said Table #1, I meant Table #1 and not Table #2, and got to make the change that I had ready to go most of last week. But the woman who’s supposed to walk me through the system had a 12-2 meeting, and then had to get lunch, so it’s 3 and I’m still waiting to get shown how users use the system. People are writing up lists of the data constraints I’m going to be programming in, making sure that all the required data is entered, and that it’s all in the right format. And, really, everyone I’ve met up here has been nice, even the guy who forgot me at the train station. We’re even going to the Braves/Phillies game tomorrow night.
Hmnmm? The manager? The one who panicked and had me get up here pronto? What about him?
He’s not here. He had other things to do.
I got the email Thursday afternoon. Could I go to New Jersey next week? They needed my answer as soon as possible. Soon as in now.
No, I don’t want to go. I hate this hyper fast-twitch response bullshit, especially since I have my doubts about the true urgency of the situation I’m going to be thrust into. The implication is that SHIT IS WRONG, and that someone needs to fix things YESTERDAY IF NOT SOONER. And I know that’s not the case. If things were that broke, they wouldn’t wait from Thursday until Monday afternoon (the time I was originally supposed to arrive) to start taking care of it. Someone would have been tasked with it right quick. So, really, it’s just something that’s not right, and needs to be fixed. Projects are filled with these sorts of things. This project, however, has been operating in perpetual panic mode for so long that this knee-jerk reaction has become the expected, the norm, the default.
"Okay, there’s a train out of Richmond Monday morning at 6:05AM, that should put you at the station at 10:50 or so." Richmond’s an hour away. That means I’d be leaving Williamsburg at 5, so I’d have to get up around 4AM… hell no. Fuck no. So, instead, I’m losing my Sunday, and taking the train up tomorrow. The bloody train. Yeah, I’m thinking of taking my camera and taking pictures on the way up, but I’m not expecting much. You don’t get to see the nicest neighborhoods and such from the window of a train, mostly because nice neighborhoods don’t spring up where the residents have to listen to a train rattle by several times a day. Doesn’t happen. I’ll be getting back into Richmond at 9PM or so, since I can’t get a train back to Williamsburg Friday night if I leave at a designated acceptable time (4PM) from the NJ site. So, I’m missing Braz’s birthday dinner, which is earlier that night.
The really annoying thing is I can’t think of a good business-acceptable reason to not go, but there are lots of personal reasons I don’t want to go. Emma’s birthday is Monday. Braz’s is Tuesday. Jeremy and I were going to go out with Braz on Wednesday or something, just the guys. Sorry, guys. Shoot a game at the Corner Pocket with out me or something. Colleen just had her baby. Liz and I are starting to reorganize the house in preparation for having a baby, and I’d like to get cracking on parts. Not really good enough reasons to skip out on whatever perceived emergency is roaring through New Jersey.
I want to program again, dammit. This scripting language bullshit, and the psychotic corporate mindset that comes along with it is for the damn birds.
In any case, I have no idea if I’ll have Internet access worth a damn next week, so I’m going to set the blog configuration to show 2 weeks worth of entries just so the main page doesn’t slip away to nothing, and if I can access this, then it’s a double blessing.
Go look at the monthly archive select box on the main page. I’m so pleased that it works that I could just pass out. Next up I’m going to do one for my category archive pages…
Barron clicked away on the little laptop, while his desktop had a ghost image of its hard drive written to some remote machine. “What a nice little rain.”
“Yeah… nice quiet rain.”
I get up, head for the door quickly.
“What… are your windows down or something?”
“You’re a fucking genius, you are…”