Pulling out the thermo-nuclear trump card

Our QA group works in the basement of this building. I work on the third floor. The only elevator is a freight elevator at the other end of the building, and I think you need your doctor to swear on a stack of bibles that you are legitimately handicapped before you can use it. Consequently, when the QA people need me to come down and look at a problem, I have to haul myself down this steep stairway in one of the danker and more industrial smelling parts of the building. I would like to I avoid it as much as possible. However, one of the QA people, Lisa, always calls me first whenever she has any problem, and she’s not very good at describing what the problem is, so I have to go down the stairs to see her. Unfortunately she’s very nice and pretty good at her job for the most part, so I can’t just tell her to fuck off.

The second part of this equation comes from the fact that right now I’m really, really busy. As a matter of fact if I didn’t need to take a minute to unwind right now or my brain will explode, this blog entry would never get written. I billed 50 hours two weeks ago, 55 hours last week, and I’ll probably top 55 again this week. And my eyes are killing me – I think it’s the new glasses but Vicki thinks it’s hay fever. This is *not* a good time to expect me to drop everything and come trotting down the stairs.

Yesterday, Lisa had a problem in the automatic upgrade procedure, which I wrote. She emailed me a log file. Hey! What a revelation – I thought because the QA machines weren’t attached to the network she couldn’t do that! Maybe I won’t have to trudge down there every time she has a problem any more. I needed a second file, and instead of sending me the second file, she send me this binary jibberish that looked a lot like a gvim swap file. I could sort-of see what was going on by running “strings” on it, but not enough to get anything useful. So I asked her to send me the file again.

A few hours later, my boss emailed me, Lisa, the QA head, and a few other people asking about what was going on here and how long it will take to fix the problem. I responded that I really need Lisa to send me that file again before I could tell them what was going wrong. That was about 5:30 and I left soon afterwards.

I get in this morning and find an email from Lisa saying that if it’s so important for me to get this file, why didn’t I just come down and get it?

Maybe it’s the accumulated tiredness, the sore eyes, or whatever, but I decided to pull out the big guns. I responded (perfectly truthfully, I might add) that I have chronic knee pain, and every time I go down and up those stairs I feel the painful after effects for hours. (Ok, they’re not that painful, but it accumulates so the more repetitions I do on those stairs, the worse the pain is by the end of the day – and sometimes the next day as well.) Then I pulled out the thermo-nuclear trump card – I asked her if I’d ever told her the story about how I nearly died because the pain in my knees was so bad that I didn’t realize that my appendix had burst until 2 feet of my large intestine had gangrene.

It’s true – I once spend an entire weekend thinking “why can’t I get rid of this damn trapped gas”, and went to see the my doctor on Monday afternoon, and he took one look at me and hustled me off to a surgeon. The surgeon was wondering how I could have an inflamed appendix and still be so relaxed and cheerful – but he’d have cut me open to take a look just to be safe. Don’t worry, though, he said, we’ll do it under a local, it will take about an hour and a half, and you’ll be back at work in a week. Oh, and the scar would only be about a centimeter long. When I woke up the next day, I found that he’d taken one look and realized how bad it was, and given me a general and operated for four hours. I had a 15 centimeter long scar, I spent 9 days in hospital, and couldn’t return to work for a month. The only reason I can find for why I wasn’t writhing in agony with this appendix long before it got to this point is that my knees and hips are producing so much pain that my brain keeps me flooded with endorphins to make it bearable, and other pain has to be pretty damn bad before it gets noticed above that level of noise.

Anyway, a little while later Lisa sent me the file I needed, so I’m happy. And maybe she’ll think twice about calling me down every time something goes wrong.

3 thoughts on “Pulling out the thermo-nuclear trump card”

  1. Yikes. My sister-in-law suffers from similar levels of pain from a variety of leg problems (osteoporosis at 28, among other things). She accidentally shot herself in the foot with a .22 last fall and didn’t notice–she didn’t believe her husband until he pointed out the hole in her boot.

  2. I’d consider the gangrene story (or, hell, just the state of your knees) proof enough of need for giving you a key to the elevator. If the powers that be do not agree, they are truly a bunch of heartless bastards.

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