It's like The Room, only more self-aware.
I returned on Friday from two weeks at the head office. This time it was not for training though - they wanted to get me out there for project work. My boss has a sizeable number of reports that need to be moved off of stand-alone lab machines into a more stable and supported environment. You can't see me rolling my eyes in the last part of that previous sentence, because when I say "supported", that is with the caveat they are all probably going to be moved to another platform next year. Why would we move them now, rather than wait until the new, even more stable and supported platform is ready?
That's a good question.
Our CIO has decided that he does not like MS Access, and he has mandated that it will be gone by the end of the year. Since these reports all run out of Access, we need to move them before the end of the year. Sadly, the scary number of machines running outside of IT that are processing large volumes of business data through MS Access are not being migrated. Our CIO has no idea how much information that is critical to the business is being processed by the business itself because IT has cut itself too thin to do the work for them. The new year is going to be ... interesting.
My counterpart from Toronto was also out at the head office, so even though I was not keen on flying out there for two weeks, I was glad for the chance to hang out with him again. We've worked together for years, but the last time we got to meet in person was almost ten years ago. I must say he is ageing better than I am. The trip was fun, and educational, and productive, and very, very tiring. They decided that since we we (that is, me and my counterpart, but nobody else) should work through the long weekend to make it worth the expense of flying us out there. After twelve straight days in a row, getting up at 5:30 every morning starts to get a bit old.
My director took me for coffee one morning on the second week, and he had a number of interesting things to say. Some of it was probably slightly privileged information, but I have a knack for seeming reliable, so all of my managers have tended to share secrets with me. By far the largest part of the coffee chat though was him finding different ways to paraphrase, "Please, please please don't retire next year." He was all-but begging me to consider sticking around a couple more years. He and my direct boss have both confided in me that they consider me their top developer, so I can understand why they might be concerned over the thought that I want out.
This is doubly so when they know they are also losing two other very senior developers to retirement next year as well. What they don't know is that they are also probably going to lose their best system administrator as well, because he's got a job lined up with another company in the new year. We are bleeding people and knowledge at an alarming rate right now, and I don't see the flow stemming any time soon as long as our current CIO is at the helm.
I admit that I am torn over the idea of leaving. This company has been a big part of the larger part of my life, and I'm not really sure what I will do with myself when I retire. I love the challenge, and I like the work that I do. I like the people I work with, and I appreciate being appreciated. Unfortunately, that's all wrapped in the layer of this toxic department that our CIO has created.
Also, with the possibility of a strike in the running trades looming next year, I foresee them pushing me back into the engineer training program sooner rather than later. It's not that I don't want to learn it, but I don't want to cope with the misery they have been inflicting on other managers who are qualified in the running trades. My boss said that he would do everything in his power to keep me out of the program if I agreed to stay, but he admitted that it might be out of his hands. Nice of him to promise something that he knows he likely can't deliver. I guess the thought is there.
On another front, I took Monday off to make up for one of the days I worked through on the long weekend. I'd had a mental list of things I wanted to accomplish that day, but in the end I just went over to the clinic to get some blood sucked out of me and then came home and vegetated in front of my computer. I was still a bit burnt out from my trip.
The blood work was interesting. I am not a fan of needles at the best of times - in fact, I daresay I love them like Superman loves Kryptonite. They are the acid to my base. The beef gravy to my vanilla ice cream. When I started counting how many vials the nurse pulled out as I sat down, I knew I was in for a rough time. Fortunately I seem to have finally got past the part where I come close to fainting every time I get a needle, but I had to work hard to stay in my happy place this time.
It wasn't so bad when she first stuck in the needle. I was also still holding up as she filled the first two flasks. What almost did me in was when she decided that the blood was not flowing fast enough, and she started readjusting the needle in the vein, pushing and twisting it around a bit until she found the sweet spot again. After six subjective hours, it was finally over. I escaped with my life again this time, but someday I may not be so lucky.