Monthly Archives: September 2016

Why I Don’t Like Talking About Work

Ahh, work. That place I spend 10 hours a week commuting to and 40 hours a week sitting around at. The job I trained for 4 years and took on debt to get. I like the company enough, it is a pretty decent place to work. The job isn’t bad either, if a little monotonous. I just hate talking about it. First of all, after being surrounded by computers and annoyed people all day, that’s the last think I want to think about after I walk out the doors to the building. Second, when you tell people you work in networking in D.C., they get confused. I don’t know why the location throws them off. I can’t tell you how many times people think I’m some kind of lobbyist or professional political partygoer or something. I know lobbyists can make a ton of cash but is a political partygoer a lucrative career? Is that even a real thing? I can think of some other professions that sounds suspiciously close to, which makes me wonder– why do people think that’s what I’m talking about, with my ill-fitting jeans and steel-toe boots (because monitors and desktop towers may have gotten lighter but they still hurt when you drop one on your foot)?  I certainly don’t think I look like some sort of…political-savvy paid mingler. Besides, if I meant that, wouldn’t I have said that I was a lobbyist or whatever it is you think I’m doing?

They always seem disappointed when I correct them and tell them that it’s computer networking.

Then the second part that I dread starts. The “Oh, so you’re good with computers? That’s great. Because my computer is…” and then they try to lay out what’s going on with their computer. As if I can diagnose and treat every computer known to man with any problem in existence, all off the top of my head. I imagine that people in the healthcare field and mechanics get this a lot, too. I bet people at parties have no problem making pretend car noises or lifting up their sleeve to show you some gross mole.

This is why I hate meeting new people.

But at the same time, I don’t really want to hang out with my coworkers. Partially because I spend the majority of my day with them but also because then they take it as an opportunity to talk about work. Some computer they had to fix. Some idiot coworker’s mistake. That pretty girl over in accounting and whether I think she’s seeing anybody (she is, and I know this not because I hit on her and got shot down but because I ran into her and her girlfriend in the cafeteria once). I would much rather hang out with the guys I play paintball with, or the fellow gamers I meet online, or any of the friends I’ve had since high school.

Am I the only one who feels this way? Or does everyone else get home from work and just start talking about the place they just left over dinner? It’s just me, isn’t it?

*Bangs Head on Wall*

I was running late one morning and forgot to grab my winter jacket. I should have taken the time because it was a bit nippy outside. That wasn’t the worst of it. When I got to the office, I found out that the heat had gone out. They had ordered a repair service but who knew how long that would take. We were on standby, sitting there freezing to death, waiting for relief. Service people take their time and seldom come at the drop of a hat. We didn’t want to work in a cold environment, but we really didn’t have much choice. It was end of the month time which means compilation reports were due. We couldn’t afford to miss our deadline. We had to suffer and keep going. It was our duty and responsibility as employees. After all, it wasn’t the bosses fault that the heat was on the fritz. We knew he was doing everything he could to expedite the repair. Hours went by in the morning but nothing was happening. Instead of sending everyone home, the boss was smart. He set up a large room space heater that would help everyone. It was a big object to be sure and covered a lot of ground. I don’t know how he got it there so fast and who carried it in. It was rather large. But there it was saving us from a cold death.

It is frustrating to sit and wait for anything. I am not a patient person. The heater was a good stop-gap measure in any case although I still wanted the central heat to be turned back on. I decided to stop thinking about it and complaining to other people and just get back to work. It seemed that it was warm enough, although not toasty, to get in the right mood to finish our reports. The upper management was not going to be happy if we failed to come through. Time went by and we plugged away at the numbers and even skipped lunch. So the boss had that brought in as well. He was on the ball today looking after us. We took a short break and resumed business.

At the end of the day, most of the reports were complete and we needed just an hour of overtime to do the job. The portable heater was still pumping warm air into the room. Finally, we called it quits and turned in the work. The boss immediately transported the reports to management. They were truly surprised to see them as promised. They knew about the heat. They were experiencing the cold in the building just like us. Also like us they had rented a room heater of a slightly smaller size. No one died of the cold that day. Management praised us the next day, giving special accolades to our boss. They appreciated the special effort to come through with the month end reports. It all ended well in spite of the broken heater, which by the way was now working.

Beltway, I Hate You

I love living in DC. It’s the most powerful city in the country. It’s like New York or L.A., but instead of being filled with annoying hipsters or wanna-be actors, you’ve got agents, spies, and political figures. The Metro, when it’s working, is great for getting around. Granted, it is showing its age and very possibly falling apart around us as we hurtle through its decaying tubes, but at least I don’t have to drive on 495.

Can I tell you how much I hate the DC Beltway?

No, really, can I?

I am an impatient guy by nature, so sitting there in traffic makes me want to get out of my car and run screaming the other way down the highway. People are like, “oh but you get to see that pretty Mormon cathedral and the Washington Monument and…” Yeah. I. Don’t. Care. If I wanted to see those things, I’d go to them. And as cool as the Washington Monument is, it isn’t really much to really look at, is it? It looks like a giant pencil stuck in the ground with two little eyes in the point. It doesn’t do tricks like the Empire State Building, and you don’t wonder how they built it like the St. Louis Arch or anything. It’s just…there. Of all the monuments in D.C., appearance-wise, it’s not that impressive. Sorry, George.

Wikipedia calls the 270/495 merge “highly complex” but we’ll just call it a stupid nightmare. That’s way more accurate. And then there’s the section between Georgia Avenue and Route 355 that has an average of 260 crashes a year. That’s one accident per weekday, give or take. Most places would have done something about that by now, but not us. Oh no. There are a lot of merges in the DC area that are merges of death but that one pretty much takes the cake. If your car dies or gets a flat, you best be getting out and going up past the shoulder and up onto some terrain, because you will get rear ended and possibly die otherwise. And if there’s an accident over there, and you probably will as there is one almost daily, you’re never getting where you need to be.

I tried to date a girl who lived in Maryland once. You want a good laugh, go look on googlemaps at the aerial view of exit 19B on the beltway going toward 50 W. It looks like a little kid drew out the roads with his or her eyes closed. I can’t even explain it. As shallow as this makes me sound, that relationship did not last, because I just couldn’t do the commute. Neither could she, to be honest. It was just…a nightmare.

I like to drive, or at least I did til I moved here. I was used to driving in some traffic, sure, but nothing like this. D.C. traffic is something you really have to see to believe, especially on the beltway. I’d much rather risk a crushing death in a Metro tunnel. The odds are much more in my favor to take the train. It’s just too bad it doesn’t run all the time.

“My Internet’s Not Working”

If I got paid by the complaint and not the hour, I’d be a millionaire. I lost count my first week here with all the “my internet’s not working” calls. I’d say only about 1/3 of them come from actual network outages; mostly because we let everyone know when it happens so they DON’T call us. Because what I want while I’m trying to fix everything is answer a million phone calls from angry people who can’t get into the systems. Most of the time, people take it personally when the internet or intranet is down, and they are not happy. If I’ve got an angry person yelling at me every 5 minutes, I’m clearly not going to have time to get my job done and actually fix the problem…

Most of the time, it’s for something dumb like they accidentally turned off their wireless capabilities (I’m looking at you, telecommuters). You have to tell them where to look for the little network icon and they get all indignant. Then you get them to turn it back on and it miraculously solves the problem. At that point, though, they’re usually so relieved that they haven’t accidentally broken the computer and they now have everything back up that they will either apologize or thank you. I don’t mind those calls because they only take a few minutes to work through.

Then there’s my favorite, the network cable being unplugged. You would think people would check that before they call me but you’d be wrong. Sometimes it isn’t the employee’s fault—they’ve moved desks or something and tech is supposed to reconnect everything and they just…don’t for some reason or other. Maybe the cleaning people accidentally knocked something loose. But a lot of the time people get fidgety and kick it out, drop something and go digging blindly around under their desks, or decide to rearrange their desk and the stupid little plastic thing on their Ethernet cable pops out or breaks off. I’ll usually hold up the cord and say, “See this?” before explaining what it is and why it needs to be attached. I would imagine these people have computers at home so I am not sure how they get anything solved there. Those people usually just mutter an embarrassed apology and I can go back to the tech dungeon where my office is located.

Every once in awhile, we have to shut everything down because people have done something awesome like clicked on a phishing link or something equally as stupid and infect their computer. We have a shutdown procedure while we get the infected computer disconnected and that’s always fun. People call to find out why their internet isn’t working and we’re all, “Yeah, tell your idiot coworker that there’s no Nigerian prince looking for money…” Usually they can’t believe it happened again—we can’t, either—but that’s out of our hands. Then we usually all have a good laugh at their coworker’s expense and get on with our days.

Sometimes, though, we get complaints that the internet is down but it’s really the firewall. “I can’t get online.” Yeah? Try this site. “Oh that works.” OK, so where were you trying to go? “Facebook.” Uh. That’s a violation of employee conduct. “But it’s for work! I network there!” Yeah, I don’t care. No facebook for you! Check it on your phone like a normal person, would you? Oh that’s right—you can’t because we don’t allow cell signals in the building (insert evil villain laugh here). So go outside on your lunchbreak and check it on your phone then! Get some sunshine and leave me alone!

Take me, for example. I’m writing this on my tablet while I eat my lunch out here in the sunshine.