Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Friday Mishap

Leaving Reno on Friday was fraught with mishaps. At the last minute, as I was about to leave the warehouse, I got a call from our software supplier in Ohio. He could not login the server and work on the remaining issue we reported the other day. It was about 10 am Pacific Time and my flight home was 12:30 noon time and I still had to go back to the hotel to complete my packing, check out, return the rental car and check in the airport.  I did not think I could squeeze in the time needed to resolve the server issue in 2 1/2 hours and still meet my flight back. So I left the warehouse thinking or wistfully hopping it was a minor problem, possibly a connection glitch in the Ohio supplier because the warehouse had just printed a few reports earlier in the morning plus the other warehouse back home had not reported any issue. So I drove back to the hotel amidst a bright sunny day, going down the highway with the beautiful bare brown mountains in the horizon as I made my way along the valley.  Classic rock music was playing in the radio.

As I parked my car in the parking lot and walked into the hotel lobby, my phone rang. It was the staff from the warehouse back home. He reported a printing problem so I knew it was a real crisis that will affect all users. I went up my room, packed my things which were not in my bag yet, logged in the network and called my colleague who was the support manager who had left Reno the previous day. I also called the project manager and told him about the problem and asked him if he wanted me to stay for the day and resolve the issue. He said that it was not needed and advised me to catch the flight back. The support manager gave me the same advice after I gave him the run down on the issue. Apparently the server had gone down but needed to be re-booted. So I called the helpdesk 1-800 number, reported the issue, wrote an email with the problem ticket number and sent the mail to the project team. Afterwards, I packed up, left the room and checked out from the hotel.

I got lost going to the airport, turning left on a road near the hotel instead of turning right further ahead. I was lost in Reno without a GPS but found a map in the car to guide me. It was about 11:30 am. Eventually I found my way back to the airport, returned the rental car and rushed inside the airport. I could not find the ticketing counter and thought I could make it to the terminal but I was told to go back and formally check in. I found the ticketing counter and finally checked in after some calls were made to get the system working again as the gate had closed. It was 12:00 noon. I raced back to the security counter, went to the departure gate and just made it into the plane. As I walked to the entranceway of the gate, my phone rang but I did not answer as I made my way to the plane entrance and into my seat. It was the support manager but I could not talk to him being inside the plane and ready for takeoff. I sat back in my chair and continued to read Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now.’

In a former life, I would be fraught with anxiety, feeling wrongly that I am personally responsible for fixing the issue and would be fired if I did not work on it until fixed. But it is a different atmosphere here where everyone pitches in to help or take responsibility. In Asia it’s the same, where everyone tries to help too. In fact technical support is much better in Asia. But in the States, everyone is willing to take responsibility even if the technical skills are not as great. Eventually the problem gets resolved which is a testimony to the organizing abilities and take charge attitude over here. So I settled down on my seat and read Tolle – dispelling from my mind the doubts and fears that rise up. Tolle is the best teacher to read during these circumstances as he teaches us to control our mind - the key to peace and serenity. The flight from Reno to Houston took 3 hours and 30 minutes. When the plane landed in Houston, I covered a lot of Tolle but still had a third of the book to read. I called the support manager who was in the midst of a call with the warehouse, trying to resolve the issue. It seems the server was re-booted and the services re-started but there were some remaining problems. But it looked like things where improving and when my phone battery died after a few minutes of conversation, I was not as anxious as before even though the problem was still being fixed.

In Houston airport, I tried a place called Texas barbecue. I had ribs, pork sausage, and sweet potato and Texas beer. The ribs were not good – a warning that the airport is not the best place to sample the region’s dish. The George Bush airport in Houston is a large modern place – perhaps like the new Bangkok airport but without the exotic Asian frills. It’s a good symbol of the large enterprising spirit of Texas – it’s a feeling I derived looking at this monolithic place with modern trains linking the terminals. It’s a much newer airport than Dulles in Washington and LAX in Los Angeles but larger than John Wayne airport in Orange County and Chicago Midway airport. I finally got back home at around 12 midnight local time but still had not finished Tolle. The flight from Houston took about 2 hours and 30 minutes. I had been on the plane for a total of 6 hours. The next day I got a text message from Google voice that said the problem has been resolved but there was some minor issue still to be fixed. I spent the weekend catching up on the movies I wanted to see and the finishing Tolle’s book.

Monday was another nightmare as the problem started all over again. The sites could not login so I had to process their transactions myself. Not a big job but highly stressful considering all the phone calls I needed to take. I missed one important meeting and needed to be re-scheduled. It was a struggle up until the end of the day when most of the major glitches were resolved. Reno warehouse could log in but the one here close by – the biggest in our business - still continues to have problems. The problem continued to the next day where we had to support both warehouses now and again. I attended a few meetings to report on the issues but had plans afoot to fix them.  Hair raising days considering the good times we had at Reno last week. Good times always are a precursor to something bad as some superstitious folks would say. Reflecting on Tolle, one should focus only on the present moment – the NOW. One can do that by being watchful of one’s mind. I had tried to do so during crisis time and I seem to be progressing towards transcending my 'personal life situation'.    

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