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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