Sunday, October 16, 2011

My first official on call rotation (sucked)

This week (Monday 12AM to Sunday 11:59PM) was my first official on call rotation of my career and at my new job. If you don't know what this means, basically my company supports client sites, those sites have issues, monitors pick it up, we get alerts. For severe alerts, the on call resource (me) is contacted directly by phone to investigate. Once determined the issue is real, the actual project team resources are involved, otherwise, the worst is that the on call resource is called and it was a false alarm.

I had a lot of false positives and some actuals. The night phone calls were very disruptive to my normal habits, and honestly, very stressful. First, the shock of being woken at any hour of the night and having to have a conversation with the answering service is a lot. I usually sleep heavy with no sounds. The phone ringing at high in my ear is a jolt. Then I rush out of bed to my laptop, get the alert details, validate. So not only is the phone ringing, I have to get out of bed, then get blinded by the brightness of my laptop screen, punch in my machine login password, check email, click through to the alert details, and validate the alert.

In the best case, all is fine and I go back to bed or resume my normal work day. Worst case, I have to wait and watch the site, then call someone else to get involved. Then usually when the site is still down the answering service calls again due to the alerts continuing.

Once it's over, I go back to sleep, well, sort of. I now am half asleep wondering if I managed the alert correctly, or if I am going to miss another call. Then I dream about the alerts, the site, the call, gah.

A mistake I made through the beginning of the week was leaving my Google Voice settings on to ring all my phones ("all" is just my cell and my house phone). My wife loved this as the house phone is on her side of the bed. Pro tip, try to only negatively impact your own sleep and not anyone else you might live with, let alone are married to.

Then after being woken up in the middle of the night, I have to wake up at a normal hour for my actual work day. I felt like I was up for hours, but I was only up for at most thirty minutes. I usually ignore my alarm, so this time, I was sleeping in until 9 or 9:30AM. At 9:30AM I have a daily call on my one project, so I was cutting it close. My whole day is pushed back.

Another issue was being attached to my machine and connectivity the whole time. My laptop went with me to dinner, and shopping. I turned down plans because I was home and couldn't get out much. I had to exercise close to home in order to be able to respond. My cell phone had to be with me at all times, in the bathroom, in the shower, next to my bed, in my pocket while I work out, in my yard. I couldn't respond simply on my phone because (1) it's dumb and (2) I could have used my iPad, but clicking through the links and validating would have taken too long. So I was dependent on my laptop and a wireless connection. I like to disconnect somewhat, or at least if I do it accidentally, I don't want to worry about it. Very heavy weight on my mind making sure I make the right decisions to be available on demand.

Funny thing is, I've done this before, but without any direct responsibility, and only for direct clients, not every client for the company I work for. I've been through the storms, the all nighters, the emergencies, the site launches, and this was just "on-call".

I think I might have gone soft actually, lost the edge, lost the eye or the tiger or something. This is my first late round of nights at my new job (since March, it's now October, so a good run), or things are finally normal, I don't know which. Or I am getting old.

Whatever it may be, this week sucked, and I cannot wait for 12:00AM Monday.

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