My journey into work is no longer a 15-minute blood-pressure-raising cycle-ride through the centre of town; instead, it's a surprisingly tiring 10-minute cycle-ride up a road which appears to not only have a head wind in both directions but actually be uphill in both directions as well. (Local council refuses to answer allegations of the inappropriate involvement of M. C. Escher in the transport strategy.) It also involves poor road-surfaces in pitch darkness on which people seem to think it's a good idea to go jogging, at night, in black tracksuits, FOR FUCK'S SAKE... but hey, I needed a bit more excitement in my life. Having said that, it's generally an easier ride, and involves less interactions with stupid people. So having got out of the habit of the daily Stupidity Slalom, I was irritated to see a large people-carrier parked (facing the wrong way) in the cycle lane outside the doctor's surgery, and stopped to try to tell the woman in the car that she was parked in a cycle lane and that this was antisocial, possibly illegal, and really dumb. Guess what: "It's naaaan of your fackin business and I can park anywhere I laaaaaak!" Well, fair enough, it's probably none of my business, and she can, manifestly, park anywhere she likes. Whether she may or not is another issue, but one that I couldn't be arsed to argue when I was already late for work. Besides, by this point she'd smugly slid her front window back up and gone back to filing her nails.
Arrived in work feeling irritated and exhausted, intending to grab a huge mug of coffee and dive back into the Reporter, on which I'd given up in disgust at 6:15pm yesterday after reformatting 25 pages of layout tables which only need implementing at all because we have to make the web version of the Reporter look as much as possible like the 150-year-old paper publication. (Never mind web-first publishing, in this instance I'd settle for web-actually-given-a-toss-about-at-all.) Of course, what I'd forgotten was that our
Got the Reporter sewn up just in time for the Editor to have gone to lunch, so she couldn't sign it off until after 2pm anyway. At least she didn't say it was "URGENT", though, before disappearing into the void -- unlike two of our content providers, who seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that the more times they put the word "URGENT" in the subject-line of their emails, the more man-hours it magically creates in which the web team are free to work for them. One of them compounds the problem by insisting that she is too busy to negotiate complicated linguistic conventions like using a mixture of upper and lower case letters, leaving all the vowels in words, or using nouns. My favourite snippet of email from her this week, which some of you will already have heard, reads:
pls can u alter the last bit where the header of the downloading bit needs alteringI'm taking her out of context, of course; to be fair, she does go on to explain that yes, she really does want us to alter the wording of one item in a list to make it less clear, and this is actually more urgent than anything else in our collective in-trays.
And while we're on the subject of in-trays: my Inbox is nearly over its size limit, again, though they seem to have fixed my profile space. When we moved offices, the Helldesk folk made a big song-and-dance about the mystical shenanigans that were required to preserve the configuration of our machines, most of which involved kicking us off our machines for 15 minutes at a time without any warning or any chance to negotiate for a more convenient time; when we got to the new office, we found that our profile had completely vanished. That's bookmarks, browser settings, editor preferences, and in my case the registration of my copy of TextPad seems to have lapsed. One of my bosses raised the bookmarks issue. The fresh-faced lad from Helldesk replied, wide-eyed, "Oh, did you want them?" Someone eventually worked out that we could log out, log back on to CENTRAL network rather than INTERNAL, copy our config files on to a shared network drive, log out again, log in again, and re-import all the configs. Easy! Of course, it doesn't fix the TextPad registration; I guess I'll have to re-register, with the information the Helpdesk sent me, which I have probably deleted because I didn't think I'd need it again and didn't have room to keep any unnecessary mail...
So anyway, I start writing this post, taking a well-earned and somewhat late lunchbreak, and Nicola's phone rings. Nicola isn't here. Everybody else looks at me. I take my headphones off, and grudgingly go and answer the phone.
- "I sent an email through to Nicola to ask blah blah urgent website urgent blah blah pensions blah."
- "I'm afraid she's not in the office this morning."
- "Yes, I realise you operate as a helpdesk, so I had hoped somebody else would pick it up, but that was this morning, so I just thought I'd phone through to ... [tails off into mumbling]"
- "Did you send the email to webmaster?"
- "Oh ... er, no, direct to Nicola."
- "Well, if you send it to webmaster at admin dot cam dot ay see dot yew kay then we'll all see it, including Nicola when she gets back, and hopefully somebody else will be able to do it."
- "Okay, I'll do that then."
- "Okay, thanks. Bye." [I start to hang up]
- [pause] [scrabbling sound] "Except, oh, I think I might have deleted it."
In a last-ditch attempt to preserve my sanity, I pretend I didn't hear this bit and just hang up before I actually mutilate somebody.
Returning to my desk, I mutter disgruntledly for a few seconds before realising that Nick is still looking at me. "Sorry," I say, "I'm in a bad mood. It's the lack-of-coffee situation that's getting me down. I'm just going to put my headphones back on and pretend I'm not here, otherwise I'll just shout at somebody." "Oh!" says Nick, "I made some real coffee earlier, and said it was out there in the kitchen if you wanted any... but you didn't hear me, because you had your headphones on."