I don’t take a lot of time off work for personal downtime. I’m always saving it up for a rainy day, or some trip I’ve dreamt of taking, or just to have a bunch of time to cash out should I ever move on to another job. But this week is going to be different. I’m taking Wednesday-Thursday-Friday off, and I’m just going to putter around. Maybe I’ll run a few errands, do a little yard work, take a little drive. Of course I’ll spend time with the kids, but the nanny will be here, and they’ll be in good hands.
I think I just need some time to step back and relax after a really bad couple of weeks at work. Any week on call is a bad week, but this has been the worst in three or four years. The phone has not stopped ringing, going off at all hours of the day and night. I nearly chucked it today. It ‘fell’ from my grasp a couple of times, but the damn thing still works but luckily it still works.
I’ve often considered the question ‘What else am I good at?’. Could I do anything else that would allow me to support the family in the style we’ve become accustomed to, and to be happy at the same time? My view on happiness has sure changed in the past few years. I use to measure my success solely on the basis of my career. Then my health took a turn for the worse as I consistently went through the push and crash so inherent in the software industry. Meaningless release cycles, driven by arbitrary due dates made up by some asshole sales and marketing dweeb who just wanted to make sure he got his yearly golf trip to the Cayman Islands in on schedule while he embezzled thousands of dollars hidden in corporate expense accounts, while the axe fell on hundreds of hard working employees just trying to make ends meet. I use to sleep on my office floor, work 60-80 hours a week for no ovetime and the only recognition was a little plaque saying ‘Department Employee of the Month.’ Not hard in a department of 5 people.
These days, I pretty much stick to the 40 hours a week required to make my salary, and it drives me absolutely bonkers when work intrudes into my personal time, especially since we are not paid for our on call. In the last 4 years, I’ve been on call for over 35 weeks. That’s 35 weeks of 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, never supposed to be more than 15 minutes from a computer on which I can log in to work. And I haven’t received one dime of overtime or special bonus for keeping the company on its feet.
So when I wonder, what else am I good at? I just stop, look around me, at my beautiful wife, our two incredible kids, neighbors I like and trust and talk to almost daily. And I think, it’s so much better to be lucky than good.