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They Don’t Even Know I’m Fishing

January 27, 2014

I can’t remember where I heard it. It might have been in a book. It might have been a motivational speaker. The setting has escaped me, but I remember the story. A salesman is trying to convince his friend of the beauty of a bluetooth headset and a cell phone.

I can take a call out on the river and they don’t even know I’m fishing!

Neither do you!

I thought of that story during my own “fishing” story. I own a set of golf clubs, but I’m by no means much of a golfer. The clubs were my dad’s. He was several inches shorter than I am and I think the clubs are several inches too short for me. I don’t play golf enough to know.

But, typically a golf course is just so beautiful that I enjoy the opportunity to play occasionally. Especially here in Utah, where the lush greens of the course contrast with the desert landscape. (Yeah, I know the environmental impact and the water usage. But, let’s try to focus on happy thoughts for this post!)

So when Russ said that Novell was inviting him and a couple friends to go golfing and would I like to round out the foursome, I accepted willingly. The only problem was the Tee-time. We were scheduled for 11:15 on Wednesday morning. My manager had his team meeting every Wednesday from 10:00-11:00. He was a stickler for attendance. You either had to be there in person, call in, or have a doctor’s note. I was pretty sure that he wouldn’t go for “I blew off your team meeting to go golfing.” My boss wasn’t a golfer, or that excuse might have worked.

There wasn’t time to get to the course after an 11:00 meeting.

You’ve probably already figured out what I did.

You’re right. I met the group at the club house and then retired to a covered cart to dial into my meeting. My manager was responsible for multiple teams. I owned the messaging team. Gary owned the developers. Brian owned Directory. And there were teams for Network, and a couple of others. Mark, my manager really wanted people to be engaged in the meeting. However, because the meeting was mandatory, it meant that I was often bored. I frankly didn’t care about many of the topics that the other teams brought up.

Before you judge too harshly, I expected the other managers didn’t care about my issues either. For example, we were having a problem getting Yahoo to place our IP address on their whitelist. We generated so much email, much of it of a test nature, that Yahoo’s automatic algorithms kept classifying us as a potential spam site. We were working on changes to our MX records, and were attempting to split our outbound email between two IP addresses, a “clean” corporate address that Yahoo would (hopefully) approve and a “dirty” address that could be used for testing and would consequently have a poor reputation.

Do the technical details of any of that make sense to you?

Unless you are a messaging expert, probably not much. This was a really important topic for me, and equally important for my manager. But, the rest of his team really didn’t care. They would disappear into their laptops when I would go into these discussions. In fairness, I retreated to my laptop when it was their turn to talk about how our Active Directory schema had a compatibility issue with the forest that a separate department maintained and they walked through the manual process of normalizing the records between the two domains.

So, there I was sitting in a golf cart only half listening to each team manager go through their issues. I listened just enough to catch my name if it was mentioned. I gave my bit when it was my turn and that was about it.

It was a beautiful day for golf. I almost hit par on one hole. I drowned 4 golf balls in the river before they took pity on me and let me take a drop on the far side. The best part? I shared a cart with Gary, the Team Manager over the programmers.

They didn’t know he was fishing either.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children. His typical golf score is “mega-bogey.”

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