Not to sound overly dramatic, but today was quite a mess. What’s up: Is the moon full? Are we in retrograde? I wish I knew why it was such a clusterf*ck of a day.
It started off with me getting a call from one of my clients about 10 minutes before my train arrived in the station. She was reporting a big problem with one of our absolutely critical intranet sites. There were broken links all over it, oh, and by the way, the site was being reviewed by some Very Important People in about 2 hours.
Now, this isn’t a new intranet site in beta. Nor have we recently switched to a new platform that has gone flaky. No, this site was very carefully built by me about 6 months ago in a short timeframe (one month) to meet an urgent business issue. Then, it was turned over to one of my direct reports to maintain. And, all seemed to have gone well with the maintenance over the past months.
All this person — let’s call her M — had to do to maintain the site was update links. She didn’t even have to monitor for links that broke, she had to receive an email from someone else who would tell her “we updated these pages today on our site, so you’ll have to update your links.” M was fully trained in the CMS [that’s content management system for those of you not in the biz], then took over maintenance of the intranet within a few weeks of completing her training.
M arrived at the office within minutes of me. I told her about the call and that there were problems with broken links. “Oh, yes I know.”
My internal reaction: WHAT????!!!! You knew and didn’t address this right away?????!!!!! Are you out of your ever-loving mind?????!!!!!
But, when in the midst of a crisis and an impossible deadline, you knuckle down and get to work. So, I firmly indicated that was not good, but we would talk about it after we addressed the problem: we had to fix these links right away and I would help.
By noon, it appeared we would be OK so I stepped out and grabbed lunch. I was famished since I never had the opportunity eat the breakfast I had packed. After a few bites, we sat down to talk so I could piece the situation together and here’s how it came out.
She knew there was a problem last Friday; she didn’t escalate it to me, but instead chose to wait until the platform team was in on Monday and escalated to them. They pinpointed the problem: she was not using the CMS correctly when she added links. They told her the correct procedure, and she “planned to get the links updated this week.”
There were so many things wrong here that I was dumb-founded. I calmly ran down them with her and explained where she had not followed SOP, concluding with the fact that the entire situation was inexcusable and a very serious infraction. I escalated it to my boss, who will work with the client to smooth things over. And, we will have to consult with HR about how they want me to document this.
This intranet site is critical to a certain aspect of our business and it simply must be functional at all times. At a minimum, M displayed extremely poor judgement, and I barely hesitate to call it downright incompetence.
So, 90% of my day was spent on this mess. I left the office with my laptop, glad to be heading home where I could do a few small outdoor chores (e.g. clean up the yard after the dogs…you know what I mean!), finish up the most critical things I wasn’t able to get to today, then carve out an hour of relaxation time before getting to bed at reasonable hour.
Instead, I get a harried call from my husband. He rode to work today on this bike (yes, it finally got above freezing today) and as he was returning home he got a flat; his spare innertube was the wrong size, so he couldn’t ride. “Are you asking me to come pick you up, or are you telling me you’re taking the bus home?” I say. He wants me to drive cross-town to pick him up.
I thought for a moment about how he would take it if I said no. Not good. Do I want to deal with a sullen husband for the next day or two? If I don’t do this, would I really get that relax time with him being sulky? No. I have to once again knuckle down and pick him up. Forty minutes and about 4 miles later (yep, traffic really sucked) I locate him and help him load his bike in the car.
After he got in the car, I sat there with him for a few minutes and explained to him that the timing of his request was really poor. He knew about my crisis today, but apparently didn’t realize that it meant I still had a few hours of work to finish today; that the hour I had to take out of the evening driving cross town to pick him up and bring him home was quite a burden for me; that I really wish he would have taken the bus home this one time, since the bus stop was right across the street and the bus would drop him and his bike [all the buses in Chicago now have bike racks on the front] one block from our house and taken him no additional commute time; and that the only reason I had done this for him was because I thought he would be angry and upset if I didn’t.
He processed that. Then, he apologized. He hadn’t thought about my horrible day and how it would have impacted my other work projects; he had thought only of himself. Yes, he would have been upset if I declined to pick him up, but now he understood why I wanted to do so.
In the famous words of Farmer Hogget (James Cromwell) from the move Babe: That’ll do.
And to paraphrase the immortal Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind: I sure hope tomorrow _is_ a better day.