Coping with Stress

Been a pretty tough week at work, which is just what I needed after a relaxing holiday! Note the sarcasm. On one hand, I feel loyal to the people on my team that I actually like, one who is pushing really hard for getting me to develop myself and hopefully get promoted to a senior developer position. On the other hand, I really hate having someone ride my back interrupting my thoughts to get pointless updates on my progress.

This is why I will rarely interrupt another person unless I feel like I don’t have any other avenues to explore. I read a description someone else wrote (maybe it was Joel Spolsky?) of what it’s like being interrupted as a programmer. When you’re deep in the code, keeping track of multiple variables, trying to find the cause of a bug, it’s like trying to juggle a bunch of balls. It’s a very delicate balance, and when someone interrupts you, all the balls go flying everywhere. So you switch over and deal with whatever their issue is, and now you have to go crawling around your office trying to find where all the balls flew to.

We had an issue yesterday, and I was in that zone, trying to get to the bottom of it. It was pretty urgent, as it was the 30th of June (which is the end of the tax year for a lot of companies) and one of our consumers needed our system to be working and it wasn’t. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a pop-up saying I got a new email from one of the support guys asking about my progress. Then he walks over to ask me in person. Every time I’m on the verge of getting back into the zone, he interrupts me in some way to find out my progress.

Normally, I wouldn’t mind, but one of my other co-workers told me about a time that they needed him to do something for them. On the day, he showed up 2 hours late, and then declared that he was taking a 2 hour lunch break and disappeared. Would not answer his phone. It had to get escalated to his boss’ boss before he would respond, and he came back all grumpy and reluctantly did his task. Yet in this case, he was all for making me work through my lunch break. When I returned from getting a glass of water, he said, “Where have you been?!” So I was pretty annoyed.

Anyway, enough ranting about work. Julian gave me the contact details of a police office who works in computer forensics, and I asked him some questions about his work. He gave me some tips on skills I should work on if I plan on pursuing this career path. One of the things he did stress quite heavily was that this kind of work is not for everyone. They deal with child pornography a lot, and he said that it takes its toll on a lot of people. I can’t really speak for whether I’d be able to cope with it or not, as I have no experience with it. But that very night, something happened that made me realise that I could probably cope with high levels of vitriol at work.

I remembered that I willingly play Dota 2.

It feels good to have something to work towards again. Not every day at work is bad, but it helps me cope with the ones that are.

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