Staggering to the line

For the last two weeks plus I’ve been holding the fort while my manager went on holiday to Japan. There was a handover before he left when he instructed me in this and that and alerted me to things that might come up and people I might have to deal with. There were several things, he assured me that I wouldn’t need to worry about.

He flew out on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning, I went into work, and within half an hour, one of the things he told me I wouldn’t have to worry about was all I was worried about. A critical system component crashed, leaving swathes of the business without the tools they needed. I was there alone – the team generally come in from 9.30 onwards. I didn’t know what to do, and all I could say was to admit there was an issue, and we would be looking to resolve it urgently.

Fortunately, we were able to get it fixed within a couple of hours, but over the next two weeks, there was a succession of similar events causing disruption of one type or another. Not all of them were in our control – there was a Microsoft 365 problem for a few days, for example, when some the APIs behaved erratically. I learnt a lot over the fortnight, coordinating between teams and people and searching for answers on things I knew little about, and managing expectations across the board.

What it meant is that for the fortnight I was generally racing from one thing to another, while trying to manage teams onshore and offshore. There was little opportunity to go into depth or to develop anything. My time was spent touching lightly and quickly across many different areas and aspects, and in the end, it was fine.

To add to this, last week I butted heads again with Sales as they tried to railroad everyone else into letting them do what they wanted. I had to shut them down, and there were tense exchanges. From my perspective it’s pretty simple: if they want to come play in our environment then they have to be mindful of those already there, and that we can’t agree to anything until it’s been adequately tested and signed off. They don’t work that way, though. Everything’s a haphazard rush, without regard for either good business practice or the needs of others. They’re basically loud and obnoxious bullies who care for nothing than their own profit.

I find these confrontations exhausting. I suspect I’m positioned to take the brunt of them because management figure I’m a safe pair of hands and won’t be intimidated. The problem – as always – is that while they’ve entrusted me with that responsibility, they haven’t given that level of authority. I’m butting heads with the head of sales, who must be earning more than double what I am. I won’t shift, but it’s hard work and takes it out of you. It’d be so much easier if I didn’t have to work so hard to be civil – that’s what drains you.

When I walked out of the door on Friday, I knew that come Monday I could relax a little because my manager would return. We had our Christmas party that night, but I felt so weary and generally exhausted I wouldn’t have gone except that people were expecting me. I think something deflated in me when I knew I’d endured the worse. The adrenalin that’d been pumping through me ebbed, leaving me aching and old.

I went to the party on Friday and it was an okay night, but I was home by midnight. I was terribly weary again yesterday and happy to keep a low profile – but then I’d arranged to catch up with a couple of mates leading into Christmas. We had dinner in Richmond and drinks afterwards at the Corner Hotel and it was a lot of fun. I was okay, except I felt I had no reserves left in me. I got home at around 12.30.

Today should be a lazy day because I haven’t the energy for anything more than that. It surprises me how tired I am. I could barely keep my eyes open yesterday, and it’s the same again today. I feel really run down again, but I think likely it’s more psychological than physical. It’s coming towards the end of a long year, and I’m on leave in three weeks time. I can almost taste it, and maybe there’s a subtle relaxation of mind that’s compounded by the knowledge that I can hand over the tough stuff to the manager tomorrow. In comparison to the last few weeks, I can put my feet up a little.

And though I’ve been going strong, it’s been such a long time since I had a real holiday. I must be tired in body as well as in mind, but you power through it. Maybe I’m not powering through it as well as before this close to the line.


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