Rodney M Bliss

My Phone Rang At 3:00AM

Ever notice when you are dreaming and someone calls you in your dream, but you cannot find your cell phone? And then you realize it’s because you forgot to dream yourself a cell phone and it’s your real life cell phone ringing?

Hello, this is Rodney?

We have a reported outage in Lincoln. Can you join the bridge?

My phone sits in the master bathroom at night. Sure, that’s where the charger is, but really I could put it anywhere. The real reason is so that if it goes off in the middle of the night, hopefully it only wakes up me and not my lovely wife.

Last night was one of those nights. Technically, I guess you’d have to say it was this morning: 2:57AM in fact. Yeah, there are lots of things I like about my job, the 24×7 on-call aspect, not so much. Part of the challenge is that during the day, I have a full support team to help with outage calls. Every department is staffed, every phone is answered. 

At 3:00am, that’s not the case. My processes start to break down a little bit. I have agents working round-the-clock. If there is a problem in the middle of the night, they report the problem to a service desk. The Service Desk is also staffed 24 hours. The service desk calls me. (Yeah, I’m staffed 24 hours too.) 

I have to decide if it’s a serious enough problem to start waking up other people who are also on-call. A funny thing happens though. If more than 10 agents are impacted, I ring the alarm and rally the troops. (I don’t have an actual alarm bell to ring, but that would be really a cool addition to my job.) 

But, if there are less than 10 agents impacted, I do NOT ring that imaginary alarm bell. In fact, if there are less than 10 agents, I am not even supposed to be getting a call. Less than 10 impacted agents is not a major outage. More than five is. Believe it or not, I don’t enjoy getting calls at 3:00am. I’m typically busy at that time. . .REALLY busy.

But, I like it even less when there is an outage and I don’t get informed right away. First thing in the morning, when normal people are getting to work, they check their email and if something was broken overnight they reach out to me and want to know what happened. I hate it when that is my first indication of a problem. 

So, if stuff is broken and they don’t call me, I’m not happy And if they call me for an issue that impacted less than 10 agents I’m unhappy. It leads to a very interesting emotional state when my phone rings at 3:00am. When I answer that call, I’m not yet sure if I’m angry or not. 

During this morning’s call it was not immediately clear how many of my agents were impacted. I took the initial call and then had to start calling around to verify if it was an outage or not. During those calls, while also trying to wake up and sound coherent, I had to decide how I felt about getting woken up in the middle of the night. 

It’s a strange feeling; a sort of limbo. If this turned out to be a false alarm, with less than 10 impacted agents, I was going to be annoyed that it was improperly escalated. If it turned out to be a widespread outage, I was going to be relieved that I was informed early. I got to decide to be upset or not. 

The absurdity of that statement isn’t lost on me. If I can decide to be upset, can’t I also decide to not be? Apparently, I am self-aware enough to understand my motivation, but not actually aware enough to change it. 

(It was a systemwide outage that impacted me and other suppliers. I was happy. Tired, but happy. . .ish.)

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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