Sometimes I Just Want to ...

My inbox is full of questions from people who should know the answers before they even hit send, and it makes me wonder whether I should respond to the queries at all. What value do I provide when the same 5 people ask the same 10 questions day after day after day? What could possibly change so drastically in the software they trained me to use less than one year ago to result in people who seemingly, in the not-too-distant past, had all the answers to send messages that deteriorate the confidence I once had in their ability to understand our systems? I do not know.

As priorities, projects, and people's expectations of me stack up, new waves of confusion and confoundedness wash up in unexpected places to interfere with irrational schedules and illogical deadlines. I'm asked to answer questions about things that are outside my scope and responsibility "ASAP", as though none of the twenty other items on the day's priority list are actually priorities. It's weird.

Lately people are bypassing "the process" within the company and sending messages directly to me, trying to get answers for things that others either do not know or do not wish to know. While it's nice to feel wanted and to have people think I have the answers they seek, it's also a sign that maybe people at all levels of the company could do with a little follow-up training and support to help remind them of how things work, and why they work the way they do … be it logical or otherwise. This will never happen, though. Managers do not like to think they're in need of this kind of support, and middle-management hates it even more.

Sometimes I just want to ditch email, as very few messages are ever positive. Rarely will a person write to say "Here's this awesome thing I found that you might like!". Instead it's people who want something … or companies that want something … or spam connoisseurs who want something.

Do we even need email anymore? Doing away with it would instantly drop the stress levels of millions around the world. It would also get rid of those annoying four and five-digit notification counters on people's phones. People who, admittedly and unashamedly, never read their email. This certainly sounds like a win-win.

It won't happen, though. Email, for better or worse, is here to stay. Even if I remove the work account from my mail clients. And sometimes I just want to …

Looking For An Escape

The last month has been pretty stressful at the day job. Despite putting in a solid 50 ~ 60 hours every week, I don't feel I've actually accomplished anything as there's next to nothing for me to show for the time I've been paid for. The problem is that I'm attempting to have my software interface with the existing CMS, and the people who have the answers to my questions are either keeping quiet in order to protect their silo of information, or have left the company. As a result, I've invested close to 200 hours reverse-engineering a bunch of code that is so obfuscated for the sake of obfuscation that it's hard to see any way out of this predicament. The stress has gotten to a point where I just want to throw my hands up in exasperation and shout "If certain people in the company don't want me to write this software, then that's fine. They can write it for me!"

But this wouldn't go over very well with most people. Friction is the keyword at the day job, and the more friction there is, the happier certain people are. That said, friction is exactly what I try to eliminate when I set my mind to solving a problem. This often results in some rather heated exchanges and miscommunications. So more than anything, what I am looking for is a place where I can go to simply escape from the silliness that is corporate politics and reset my mind. It doesn't need to be anywhere exotic or far, but it does need to be quiet and well-stocked with coffee.

Hot Coffee on a Table

Back in 2003 I lived in a small place just outside Vancouver called Steveston. It's situated right on the shores of Lulu Island and had a lovely view of the Straight of Georgia separating Vancouver Island from the rest of the country. My apartment was on the waterfront, and just down the street was a little boutique coffee shop that was wonderfully relaxed throughout the week. I'd often stop by on my way home from work for a hot drink and some warm conversation, occasionally splurging for the feta and spinach turnovers they sold, as a means to "reset". There was something special about this place that I've yet to find anywhere else.

When I think about the various places I like to go now, none of them are quite like the boutique café in Steveston. There's a quiet coffee shop near the office where retired people like to congregate, but it's nowhere near as comfortable or relaxing as the place in Canada. On weekends I enjoy heading out for a nice 8km walk through some parks near my home, but this isn't really feasible during the week, especially when I'm wearing a suit and carrying a large bag. There are some smaller specialty coffee shops in town, but they are all far too loud or incredibly fake. More than this, I don't want to spend $5 on burnt coffee just to get away from the office.

Perhaps it's time to look into a new hobby? Ideally one where I am physically active. Maybe if I join a gym …