Today, Finally

It’s difficult to sleep with so much on the mind, and even more difficult when you’re filled with anger about not being able to fall sleep. With my duvet wrapped around me last night, I turned my alarm off completely, deciding to get into work whenever I woke up, knowing that I’d need the rest to focus on a persistent network issue. After trying to fall asleep for an hour without success, and feeling like I’d waste the rest of the morning, I got up very frustrated. Those who know me, know that five hours is considered calamitous. I cooked a heavy breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast, knowing that I’d still have time to get to work early, a bit of sustenance to get me through the rest of the day.

The main problem I’ve been facing for the last week has been the setup of a VPN for a new out-of-office sales rep we recently hired. It was the perfect morning to get to work early, because I could work on the server for about an hour without having to worry about affecting any client computers. I traced the problem to an outdated version of the firmware, and crossed my fingers (after my last flashing disaster) as I burned the latest version. This was at 7:00 in the morning. I spent the next 13 hours trying to figure out why internet access stopped working within the range of internal IP addresses .1 to .36 (which makes absolutely no sense without being a power of two, and especially odd when we had no DHCP ranges set).

This meant carefully learning the existing structure of a network I didn’t set up and figuring out the Windows internet protocol. I’ve had no formal training in being an MCSE, so a lot of the day was spent reading through white papers and technical notes for a possible DNS/DHCP/IIS/firewall/RRA setting I may have looked over. Network service slowly degraded throughout the day as I began troubleshooting, including a simultaneous crash of the main custom software on every system, a loss of dynamic dns addressing (which brought our new online service down), until I couldn’t even find the network address of the router.

When you’re filled with angry perseverance, you get a lot done. If only other people could understand that. Wearing a face of determination means I don’t have time to be pleasant, or have a lunch, or listen to innane stories of your grandchildren.

On the walk to work, I had already decided that as soon as I got off, I was going to play some table tennis at one of the bi-weekly sessions, vision blurred, eyes drying, as tired as I was, and passing out after dinner. This obviously didn’t happen. I’d been seriously planning on going since last week, but things just kept getting in the way.

Until the last 15 minutes, the only thing I could think about was whether I’d have to pull an all-nighter, and whether or not I’d even be able to solve things if I did. That’s the risk of tech support; the solution can be as simple as it is elusive, and there can be no progress until the very last tweak. Halfway through the day, I already decided that I’d call an external network specialist to help if I didn’t get anywhere by tomorrow afternoon. I was too tired to worry about not getting the network up before the next business day, which would basically bring the company to a standstill, and too tired to be angry at everything that was going on. After figuring out our network structure, three calls to tech support, and learning internet protocol theory from the ground up, I finally figured out that all I needed to do was do a hard reset of the router, and configure everything from scratch.

It was probably the most difficult day I’ve had since I started the job, but I knew that if I could get through it and fix the problem, I’d be able to get through anything that could be thrown at me. Not only did I get the web connection working through the entire subnet, I also got the sales reps laptop to connect to the VPN through dial-up. Yesterday was a late night, getting a website done for a client friend. Tomorrow’s another 14 hour day, and even though I’ve known about it for a month, I don’t think it’ll make it any easier.

I realized that I only really feel lonely on days like these, when my body aches, my mind loses focus, and all I want to do is have someone else take care of me. To have someone else decide what to do, because I’m too tired to decide for myself.

Stepping outside, hungry and exhausted, I put on a wintery playlist for the walk home, since it was two hours past sunset and the fall nights are getting frigid. The first song that came on was Explode by the Cardigans. I’d been saving this song for months now, skipping it every time it came on so I wouldn’t get tired of it.

Today I finally deserved it.

4 comments

  1. I got stressed just from reading about your exhausting day. Brought back my own memories of working in IT.

    Even though drained, you must feel an incredible sense of accomplishment. And just in case you don’t hear it from work….WELL DONE JEFF.

    Do something wonderful for yourself this weekend.

    Anni

  2. Thank you, I plan on doing that exactly.

  3. Jeff, I haven’t stopped by in a while. Reading this log seemed so familiar, as if I could have written it. Been there, done that, no fun. The comment by anni was right – hope you are being good to yourself right now. Saddest part of IT support is that when you work miracles, no one notices. They take it and you for granted, you’re just doing your job. Over time that gets to a lot of us. So steel yourself to it. Users are generally a bunch of ungrateful bastards.

  4. You’re right, Winston, one person asked me how long it took to fix the next day, and he was totally taken aback by my answer of 13 hours. He thought it took 15 minutes, because he only noticed that something was wrong when the main software app crashed. It’s when you do find a grateful user that it makes it all worth it.

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