Getting things done (or not) at work

Boy. The last 2 weeks have been crazy. Absolutely crazy. After Thanksgiving, I knew I had a trip to Denver. The first nitght there was very cold (16 degrees), but the rest of the time was unseasonably warm. I was there to train one of our customers, and it went very well. BTW, I can’t give enough props to the Hampton Inn. Very reasonable rates and very clean rooms with very comfortable beds. My new favorite hotel chain.

One nice thing about going to Denver was that I got to go to Casa Bonita, which is a cheesy faux-Mexican restaurant with cliff divers (seriously) and it is just one of the tackiest places I have ever eaten. As a special added bonus, it was decorated for Christmas, which just made it even more spectacularly tacky. I got some pictures there, but my camera’s battery ran out, so I didn’t get as much as I would have liked. Why did I even know about it? Well, it was featured in South Park. Many people assume that the show is 100% invented, but some locations in it are real. Anyway, that was fun, but while I was there in Denver I found out that I would need to go to Philadelphia on Tuesday and Wednesday to stand in for an SE while he was in Europe on business. The SE manager here in California has had viral pneumonia and cannot fly, and basically I was the only person available. Honestly, I don’t mind pitching in. This is not a rant.

I should state that I spent Tuesday the 5th at home, working on documents that have been on the back burner for a while. I then was able to get a bunch of stuff done on the plane to Denver on the 6th, and in the hotel that afternoon. It seems that flying anywhere in the US from the West Coast you have to either fly really early in the morning or take a red-eye. I decided that it made more sense to fly early on Wednesday because I was able to share a ride with a co-worker and get the benefit of having the afternoon free in Denver to work. This was exactly perfect for me…I got a lot of work (writing) done. The training was on Thursday and Friday. Anyway, back to me being an SE for a couple days.

This all happened on Friday the 7th and I had to be in Philadelphia on Tuesday the 12th. Given that I didn’t want to be away from home any longer than necessary, and given that I had to be in Philadelphia early in the morning, I chose the red-eye. I had never taken a red-eye. I have to say that it was nice…not a crowded plane, and I had a whole row to myself. The flight left at 11:20 p.m. PST (2:20 a.m. EST) and arrived at about 7:00 a.m. EST. I got about 3 hours of sleep. With some coffee and a lot of adrenaline, I made it through the day. I have to say that I really like Philadelphia. Reminds me of Baltimore. Except for the weird habits of people parking their cars in the middle of the street…that is unique to Philly.

The next day I was able to get a successful result for the customer, and I returned on the 6:09 p.m. EST flight back to San Francisco. The flight left over 30 minutes late due to “weather” preventing the plane from arriving on time. It had, in fact, rained that day, but the only “weather” anyone could see was a light fog. All the planes were late arriving. It might have just been a backlog from earlier in the day, but it was frustrating since I was looking at the weather radar on my BlackBerry and saw no precipitation within 200 miles of the Philadelphia airport.

I was in the office for the Thursday and Friday of this past week (the 14th and 15th) and had hoped to really make some more progress on some long-delayed items, but I was called to go to another customer visit on Friday morning. This kept me away from the office until after 1:00 p.m., and by the time I had lunch, I had only a couple hours left until our holiday White Elephant party. Basically the day was shot. However, it was a great day.

My boss came to see me after I had gotten up to leave the company meeting (the co-founders were giving us an update after the board meeting, which they do every month). He told me that he appreciated how hard I had been working, and how willing I was to do whatever was necessary to help with anything, and that he also knew how hard this must be on Deb (I have never ever complained to anyone about any affect on Deb). He told me to take her out for a nice dinner and send him the bill. I was floored. After the low point in the morning (where I was once again being asked to do something else that was not my specific job*) to this point, it was a complete emotional roller-coaster. I was very emotional inside.

What I have learned from working at a startup is that you do what is necessary. If that means that you give up 3 weeks to work on QA for a major release, you do that. If it means working a weekend to help an engineer develop a new protocol that you know very well, you do that. If it means doing training, you go. Plus you have to fit in your “regular” duties. I actually like this mode of working. It is very rewarding since I know that this stuff is really a higher priority. And I do make an effort to get my “normal” work done, too. But it was really nice to have my boss recognize what I was doing. With that said, in one way I don’t think that I am doing anything more than anyone else is…we are all working hard to make our company successful. However, I accepted this very kind offer because I know that this *is* tough on Deb and I know that she deserves to be recognized for her sacrifices (even though she is not an employee, my working here does take a toll on her).

So to recap, in the last 2 weeks (10 working days by the usual reckoning) I have been traveling 50% of the time. Whew! Now that it is the weekend, I am just catching my breath and getting back to a normal pace of life. I hope that next week is a bit more “normal” since most of our customers will be winding down their activities coming up to Christmas. I will be off recharging for the week after Christmas and ready to kick some butt in the new year.

Oh. In the White Elephant party I got a teddy bear diaper cover. Just the thing for me. I gave it to a co-worker whose wife just had a baby.


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