Posted by: jt | July 2, 2009

it’s a free ride, when you’ve already paid

There are days when the universe looks you straight in the face, points and laughs. Hard.

For more than two years, I’ve fought an on-and-off battle with The Powers That Claim To Be about distributing basic, fundamental information in our work. The information is readily available in DC, but seldom makes it outside the beltway. The irony is that the information seldom matters in DC, but can be critical elsewhere.


I’ve written about my increasing frustration and descent into insanity over this a time or two. A couple of months ago, I had a falling out, via email, with a friend who represents TPTCTB and recently we’ve both made quiet gestures toward reconciliation which, unfortunately, means this is going to surface again. There’s really just no way around it.

It’s been on my mind every day lately and I know I need to push forward. There’s no sense in waiting. My anger has subsided; I can deal with this constructively; my persuasive argument is solidifying in my head. The time, alas, is here.

The universe, it seems, agrees.

This afternoon at work, I got a phone call from our Tech Support Guy. He asked if I could have everyone log off of our database, so that he could run a routine update. Annoyed, because there is nothing I had less time for today than a trivial database update, I nonetheless ran around the office to ensure compliance. Minutes later, over the phone, he directed me to the new location of the updated database on our server to test it. When he told me the name of the execute command, I paused.

Really? I asked. I know, he said. It’s different…but I asked [the person who is supposed to know everything about this]. She said that this is the right file.

I stuttered to find words as I opened the database format that is used in DC.

Well, um, it seems to be working, I fumbled. It’s definitely different, but it looks like all of our records are here.

Tech Support Guy was thrilled and told me to be sure to call him if there were any problems and, not to worry, he had a full back-up of our database from before the update.

After two years of advising, explaining, nudging, pleading, begging, ranting – I have mistakenly been handed exactly what I wanted.

Before we get too excited, don’t think this is a solution. I might have this, but there are more than 90 other organizations out there that still don’t.


The irony – the sheer absurdity – still leaves me without words.

Because I’m an ethical fool – and because future updates will probably fuck things up – I’ll report this next week, and they’ll undoubtedly “fix” it so I have access to less information again. Additionally, for this to be an actual solution for anyone – one with any sort of reliability or consistency – the entire way data is entered in DC would have to change.

But still.

Two years of lobbying gets me nowhere. A five minute fuck-up gets me exactly what I would need, maybe 95% of the time.

My life is a French film, I swear. As perpetually implied, I live in Theatre of the Absurd.

You’d think I’d at least get to have coffee with Tom Stoppard.



  1. You’d think I’d at least get to have coffee with Tom Stoppard.

    If I still had a header quote rotation, this would go in it.

    Also, I love that you have an idiocracy tag. (Firefox spell check doesn’t think idiocracy is a word.)

  2. :D Thanks! I did multiple re-writes on that last line – glad it’s appreciated.

    I love my idiocracy tag too. I take tiny bits of consolation wherever I can find them. ;-)

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