Autograph Hound's Blah Blah Blog

Monday, November 19, 2012

SDCC 2009 – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ComicCon – A Tragic Comedy - Part 1 of 8

Part I – Problems in Paradise
I told this story to a lot of friends but wanted to share with the world.  I’m going to meander.  If you hate loitering in someone’s mind, just look over the photos. They are there from several different SDCCs and they are there only to occupy the wandering attention span of the reader.
I was working at a very large IT company – emphasis the ‘VERY’ in very large IT company. You probably never heard of it.  Which in reality is a good thing; if you had heard of us, it probably meant we did something wrong.  We were one of those companies that ‘if you have to ask how much, you can’t afford’.  Really.  Billion dollar contracts were so common we only celebrated $10 billion contracts.  But I bet you heard of our founder.  He ran for President a couple of times.
I worked there a smidge over 10 years and started to feel comfortable in my role and responsibilities.  While I can’t say I loved my job, I did like it. It was really a 40 hour a week job. I rarely needed to work more than 40 hours a week. I could make plans and keep them. Once I fixed a persnickety issue, I might have gotten a late night phone call once a quarter or so.
The location of the office was close to home. Traffic wasn’t too bad.  I had the flexibility to take a long lunch or arrive late or leave early without filling out forms or explaining myself to the project manager. I was in a comfort zone. 
Really how many IT people can say what I just said?
And you want a nice factoid?  I’m not IT. I had a FORTRAN class in college. That was it for my training.  This company hired me.  They trained me.  They retooled a government worker and made him a productive part of society. 
Yes, there were a lot of layoffs but I was the last man standing in the USA.  Everyone else on my team was offshored/best shored/or whatever the euphemism du jour is. And as is always the case in a sad comedy that usually doesn’t have enough laughs to justify the descriptor of ‘comedy’, it was a mistake to feel comfortable.
But I’m jumping ahead of my tale.
“Sherman, please set the Way Back Machine to 2009, Mid July…on Interstate 45 going south, please.”
“Sure thing Mr. Peabody.”
I will admit to be being an ‘over planner’. It’s a boon and a curse.  I get lots and lots done but I also stress lots and lots too.  When the dominoes go wrong, the affect is devastating and recovery is nearly impossible.  It’s a risk I take as the rewards are worth it.
With over planning: I had my hotel room reserved a few weeks after the 2008 show. I had my airplane tickets purchased about 10 months in advance.  My badge was bought as soon as the tickets went on sale.  I was ready long in advance.
I even planned on going out a day early and visiting a friend.  All I needed to do at this point was count off the months until the program was published so I can map out my daily schedule. I was set and ready.
All of my ducks were in a row. It was a week before the show and I was excited. I was seeing updates of the SDCC schedule and the list of movies being previewed led me to think I was going to have a record autograph year.
Then I got the infamous phone call. At the time, the phone call that gave me a little heart burn but it wasn’t an appropriate omen of things to come.  It was a call from Egypt. Not to say that the Country of Egypt was calling me.  My team is offshored and they were in Egypt.  We used to be in India but India got too expensive.  You get what you pay for.
The phone call was at 10AM on a Tuesday.
The wife and I were taking one of our cats to Texas A&M. The cat has a mystery ailment that the local specialists couldn’t figure out. The specialists suggested going to Texas A&M.  The Veterinary Clinic there is one of the best in the nation.
We were an hour or so into the drive when my cell rang.  I answered and my heart skipped a beat when I heard the voice. It’s the team lead in Egypt. They had a problem and the customer is already involved and wasn’t happy.
I listened. I talked. The reception was horrid. The team leader wasn’t doing a good job of explaining the issue.  After 15 minutes and the little I did understand I gave a few suggestions on things to investigate. It came down to this – there wasn’t much I can do to fix the issue as I was on the road and nowhere near a computer.
Five minutes after that called finished, the Customer called me.  Now my stomach was a bottomless pit. We talked. She explained more to me than the team lead did; a sad thing to admit. She unloaded her frustrations that I wasn’t in the office and that she had to deal with ‘them’.  The ‘them’ comment was more a commentary on losing people from the team she knew for years and years than the people in Egypt.
From what I now heard; I thought I understood the issue and one of my suggestions to Egypt should actually work.  As my heartbeat slowed, I hung up and called the team lead.  I gave more direction and hung up.
 After a few hours, we were done with the vet.  While out cat wasn’t cured we had a plan of action. Also while the bill was incredible cheap, it was offset by the fact we would be buying a very special brand of cat food that was almost as expensive as Silver. Keep in mind we have 4 cats.  We were going to be broke feeding these critters.
We started homeward. The cell rang. I uttered an expletive or two.  I answered and it was Egypt again.  The team lead told me my suggestions were a dead end.  I had a few follow up questions as I was incredulous.  His answers didn’t make sense but I accepted them.  After we finished talking, I called the Customer and explained we hit a dead end.  She wasn’t happy.  We agreed I’d look into it in the morning.
The ride home was long and quiet.

To be continued...


1 comment:

  1. I remember you telling me this story, just a series of events that all happened at once.