A view from my side.
The nature of my job means that I am often working on days when our offices are closed. It is kind of difficult to shut down internet connections or phone lines or computer systems while people are trying to use them. As such, rarely does an extended “time off” go by that I don’t find myself working at least some of it. I even end up “selling back” a week of vacation time every year because if I actually took it, I would not be able to meet the deadlines for when the students return in August.
This Spring Break is no different. While I have stayed away up until now, I also scheduled some work to be done this morning. We are changing phone service providers and today is the day we cut over from Provider A to Provider B. It shouldn’t take all that long to do it, so I am not really worried that I will be on campus for long. And, I am not the one actually doing the work, I’ll be meeting our telecommunications vendor on site so he can make sure the phone system connects properly to the new service.
It *should* be a quick “unplug this one, plug in that one, test, test, test and be done.” Emphasis of course, on the should. Ex#3 learned the difference between what she called “clock time” and “Chuck time” when I used to go in at some odd hour to fix something. “I won’t be long” often meant I was gone for hours instead of the 20 minutes I originally anticipated. It grated on her, and contributed, albeit a small bit, to our split
Technology is a wonderful thing. Afterall, look at what you are reading right now. Blogging began in 1994 with Justin Halls site, links.net. In December 1997, the term “Weblog” was used and in 1999 it was shortened to “Blog.” In that short amount of time, “Blogging” has exploded. Online sites such as WordPress (yay, WordPress) abound and you find thousands of people, just like you and me, sharing their thoughts online with whomever cares to read them. From the printing press of Gutenberg in the 1440’s to the emergence of online blogging, we have always taken advantage of the opportunity to get information out to the masses.
All fascinating, yes, but back to my working vacations. There is an insatiable thirst for access to all of that information out there. Whether it be news and information, game sites, social media, etc., doesn’t really matter. People have become accustomed to, and expect, unfettered access. If I were to interrupt that access during normal business hours for maintenance on a crucial server or wireless access point, all hell would break loose. I get phone calls, texts and emails when someone’s internet connection seems “sluggish” or “slow” for some reason.
So the only time I have to do much of the work necessary to keep the systems up and running is when no one is actually using them. Most of the normal, day-to-day maintenance is done at night, after the internet connection shuts off on campus. (Students actually came to me and asked that I cut off access around mid-night or they feared they would stay up too late doing whatever it is they do and not get the proper amount of sleep.) Other, more extensive work has to be done when the students are not on campus and the offices are closed. So, when everyone else is on vacation, the tech guys get to do their thing. Joy. Rapture. I’m so excited. Uh huh, yeah.
Most things are now set up for remote access. That allows me to work from off site and do just about anything I could do if I were on site. While there are still a few buttons that need to be physically pushed every now and then, my network engineer has done a great job of setting things up so neither one of us has to be on campus to do 90% of the troubleshooting required on a daily basis. That, of course, is a double-edged sword. Now there is an expectation of a more immediate response to a problem, especially on weekends. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out of town at a soccer tournament and gotten a phone call/text/email complaining about something not working right on campus.
This Spring Break involves two projects. The first is letting in our phone vendor so he can make sure the connections to our new phone service are working properly. The second requires pushing out some new updates to our computer lab. Neither requires much brain power, mostly just my presence. But my presence requires my time, on site. I am rarely able to recover much of this time, though every now and then, I will take an hour here or there when things have slowed down.
Lately though, I’ve started to become more selfish with my time off. It is, after all…my time.