The Job Experience, IT Plumbing: Year #6

The Work Schedule

The upcoming month is looking pretty good...

I get three days off this month!  Yippeee!

In my first year, I averaged about 55 hours of work a week.  This figure roughly includes my commute time (which was, at the time, perhaps an hour a day), my get-ready time (20 minutes), study/learning sessions in the evening (2 hours per night, most nights), getting called to address issues off-hours periodically, and half-a-day most weekends for miscellaneous stuff.

In year 2, things heat up and I find that I must work more to meet the requirements of the job.  To be fair to Cthulhu, this isn’t all his fault; some of the increase is due to the fact that I’m now a fully online resource.  My Year 1 training has been completed and I can tackle off-hours work that I was previously not capable of doing.

But for sure, he inserted himself into the picture and made things worse by adding additional duties.

Here’s how things break down.


Year 1

Year 2

Work Start Time


7:50AM.  We must be onsite for a daily operational call to discuss open issues.

Work End Time

4:45, officially

5:15, officially.  Cthulhu demanded a daily email with bullet items of what we’d accomplished.

Weekday Night Work

None.  I spent 8 hours a week or so self-training but no one made me do this.

1. Work on reach goals2.  Work on application updates, off-hours.

Friday Night Work


Mandatory work on application updates, usually through 8PM.

Weekend Work

None.  Again, I voluntarily spent 4-5 unforced hours per weekend here.  Also I wasn’t on-call for the majority of Year 1.

1. Mandatory work on application updates and “rollbacks,” which is restoring to backup when things fail.

2.  All Off-Hour pageout responses.

3.  Calls from Cthulhu directly.

4.  Disaster Recovery tests

Total Average Hours Per Week


min 65

A few other notes:

  • The majority of my lunch hours were booked with meetings in Year 2.  I’d say my time spent in meetings increased about an hour and a half each day from Year 1 to Year 2, from 50% to perhaps 65% of my office time.  This was almost entirely due to the increased administrative efforts of Cthulhu — 1:1s, team meetings, “emergency” meetings to discuss this and that.  (He loved scheduling a meeting 15 minutes in advance of the start time, just to assert control and dominance.)
  • See the bullet on Friday night work?  Prior to Cthulhu, my team rotated this responsibility, which reduced stress.  After?  He had an ‘all hands on deck’ mentality, so the entire team had to be available, every single Friday night.  Did I mention the night in question here is Friday?
  • After a particularly brutal weekend, I exhaustedly asked for comp time once and Cthulhu stared incomprehensibly at me before blurting out in his awful voice:  “PIGS DON’T GET COMPENSATION TIME, AND <FINANCIALCOMPANY> DOESN’T HIRE CHICKENS.”  I dropped it.  Here’s a link to the fable if you need the backstory on this.
  • Cthulhu received the same list of pageouts that we did.  However, he didn’t understand our systems that well, so he was never sure what constituted a real problem, and what could be safely ignored.  Of course, he overreacted to any and all alerts.  So an alert comes in, and he’d use this as an excuse to call us.  “YOU MUST TAKE CARE OF THIS ALERT.  I EXPECT AN UPDATE IN 15 MINUTES.”   When you tried to explain why the alert should be ignored, he wouldn’t understand, and would instead demand technical summaries via email for alerts which were non-events.  Even in the evenings, or on weekends.  “WE MUST SUPPORT THE BUSINESS A HUNDRED AND TEN PERCENT TWENTY FOUR SEVEN.  JUSTIFY YOUR INACTION IN WRITING.”  This increased both hours worked as well as stress because now my manager was calling me several times a week during periods when I desperately needed to decompress.

Cthulhu does not pretend even for a moment that there is anything resembling work-life-balance at FinancialCompany.

He is an old god, and old gods demand sacrifice.  Any pig will do.

Cthulhu’s Veil of Darkness

After a couple of months of working for Cthulhu, it became difficult for me to think about anything other than things relating in some way or form to FinancialCompany.

I’d try to do the ‘right things’ to decompress, like eat well, sleep enough, spend any possible time with my SO, get some time outside, etc.  But nothing was helping.

I now viewed life through the discolored prism of work.

blah blah

Reality versus my perception.

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11 Responses to The Job Experience, IT Plumbing: Year #6

  1. Jennifer says:

    I like your comment about just wanting to do the work instead of managing the work. I feel the same way. It seems like people think you’re some kind of weirdo if you’re not constantly striving to advance to management level. Personally, I find the actual work itself much more rewarding and less stressful than having to deal with personnel issues and being responsible for other people’s work.

    • livingafi says:

      “some kind of weirdo” — exactly. When I did finally leave FinComp. I remember telling my Dad that I was going to take a pay-cut to work somewhere else with potentially more satisfying work. His head nearly exploded: between the loss of title-based status and the drop in compensation, he just absolutely could not comprehend the rationale behind the decision. He’s one of those guys that thinks “work is a misery no matter what, so you might as well get paid as much as possible.” PS, it turned out to be a good move anyways.

    • Moonwaves says:

      “It seems like people think you’re some kind of weirdo if you’re not constantly striving to advance to management level.” So true. Try being a secretary, always having wanted to be one, being really good at it and never having had any desire to manage people at all. So many people seem to just kind of fall in to secretarial/admin work because they can’t get anything else and then try and use it as a stepping stone to other work (should I blame that Melanie Griffith/Harrison Ford film?) that, yep, managers seem to think you’re some kind of weirdo if you don’t want to do what they’re doing. I think at some point I came to the realisation that it’s only natural, since people will judge you by their own standards, so to speak, and if they have the ambition or desire to manage and move up in a company, they struggle to understand those who don’t.
      Glad I came back to finish reading through your archives, by the way. It’s very useful and I think I’m going to try and do something similar. I have no FU money and will never retire early but nonetheless will be handing in my notice by the end of this quarter (have a three months from end of quarter notice period). I just reached a point recently where I realised it’s the same old shit starting to happen that sent me to the brink of a nervous breakdown three years ago and it’s just not worth it. I think it’ll be really good to look back on not just this but all of my jobs till now and try and remember the good and the bad about each of them. It’d be good to have that stuff clear in my head when choosing my next one. Thanks.

  2. So, were the coins really as big as your whole body (Mario graphic ref)? No wonder we like VG so much, you get to travel to inventive places and get rich just by jumping up and grabbing floating money. Interesting comment about your Dad, mine would be pretty surprised by my financial situation. He knows we’ve had it good, and he had it good too, but I don’t think he knows how different the working world is. Also, not to be to random in this comment, but I like how you are treating this as ‘the work experience’ – it’s just one of many options available. I hated my previous choice, but is was necessary and I would’ve chaffed at it being called an experience, but my latest gig is definitely an open ended ‘experience’.

    • livingafi says:

      Video games aren’t an improvement over many parts of life (hiking, eating, and hanging around with my wife come to mind), but there’s no question they’re better than office life, hands down, all day, every day. On the subject of the parents — I can’t even tell my Dad what’s going on with me financially — he would shit a brick if he knew I was on the edge of retiring, and I’m not sure there’d be any way to calm him down. It’s weird — he dislikes work but simultaneously accepts that it’s a mandatory part of life to be endured, at least through age 60. For me to tell him I’ve just short-cutted the misery, well, I’m just not sure what he’d say. My first guess is “lazy.” If you ever tell your dad, I’d love to read a post about the experience… To your ‘random’ comment (love random comments btw): absolutely, even within a certain field or industry, things vary quite a bit from job to job, and each option ends up having its own distinct feel. Glad you left your own bad fit job and you’re somewhere that feels better now! Good for you, EV.

  3. Alex Kenzie says:

    What am I missing? This is not a long post… is it somewhere else now? Was it removed? Thanks for any info you can give me.

    • livafi says:

      There are links to pages underneath the all of the stuff at the end of the page.
      I just added some navigation tip reminders to the opening pages of the job experience posts to help folks find their way.

      Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  4. CC says:

    Your blog is really entertaining so far. I’ve been reading it from A-Z. You make me laugh!

  5. FIRE says:

    I’ve been reading through your work stories over the last few days. Found my way hear after reading somebody else’s particularly entertaining work stores on MMM and fellow posters talking about “Doom.”

    I’m really enjoying them but Cthulu’s behavior makes me a little physically sick. We all know there are bosses like that out in the world. But reading a detailed description of it is quite disturbing.

    On a lighter note. I love the stories! Very entertaining writing with lots of introspection and interesting observations.

  6. Sean says:

    “JUSTIFY YOUR INACTION IN WRITING” had me laughing for a good minute. Great writing.

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