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There’s A Little/Lot Of Down Time On This Job

December 11, 2018

You worked 60 hours last week. . .what did you get done?

A couple of phone calls.

Really? That’s it?

Well, they were really long phone calls

We had a product launch last week. We handled it remotely, which means that most of us were dialed into a phone conference. Just a couple of team members were at the launch site. We had plenty of agents, but those of us on the team, were able to avoid travel to Vicksberg.

We all dialed into the phone bridge at 8:45AM.

Thanks for joining everyone. It looks like we are probably about an hour away from the first call.

Should we stay on the bridge, or dial back in?

No sense sitting on a bridge for an hour. Let’s just all regroup at 9:45.

The people on the launch bridge are different than the people on my IT bridges. I convene an IT bridge for two reasons: outages and maintenance testing.

Outages are by their very nature, impossible to plan for. It’s one of the most frustrating parts of my job. This week, my kids had a choir concert. It’s the Christmas concert. (We still have those in Utah.) The concert was at 8:00PM. Two hours before we were supposed to leave for the concert, my phone rang.

As the hours ticked by it became obvious that I was still going to be on the call at 8:00. At times, I’ll actually take my phone with me. That’s what headsets and mute buttons were designed for.

Not this time. I had to not only be at my computer, I had to do a fair amount of talking. Not considered good “concert etiquette.” I was still on the phone when they came back from the concert two hours later.

The next night, I had maintenance scheduled for 9:15pm. Fortunately, the concert was two night. I attended the second one, by myself, but had to hurry my kids home to join my maintenance call. It was scheduled for an hour. We finally finished up after two hours.

In both cases, it was a requirement of my job to be on the call, but, I really didn’t get to accomplish much. During a five hour outage call, it’s not unusual to get hourly updates and have dead time between them.

You might think we should take the route the launch team did. Just reconvene. But, the problem is we never know when we will need to validate or test a potential fix.

My record for long phone calls was over 12 hours. I learned that my office desk phone’s “call timer” maxes out at 12 hours. After that it resets to CALL LENGTH: 0:00.

I once got a call from my cell phone provider. They were going to shut down my phone because they suspected I had set it up as a cheap data connection. You know, you just dial into a system and leave the phone on.

Sir, you are not allowed to use your phone as a data monitoring device.

I wasn’t.

But, on the date in question, it shows your phone was on a call for 549 minutes.


Well. . .that looks like a monitoring call.

No, that was an actual phone call.

For nine and a half hours?


And I thought my calls were long.

Okay, he didn’t say the last part, but he did turn my phone back on.

Sometimes I feel like I’m working hard, but hardly working.

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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