Futile: I don’t care how you pronounce it, it’s a beautiful word and at the top of my mind today.
Futile. As in “all for naught”. As in “sucker!” As in “you can’t get it back, and all efforts to do so are futile”.
One of the more pathetic aspects of my job is the daily “inputting”, if I may be so bold, of information into what is referred to as a “client relationship management database”.
Which is Dull-ese for “unbearably large database”.
One way or another, whether through my clever way around a 10-key pad or perhaps because someone really doesn’t like me much, I’ve become the lucky recipient of daily changes to this behemoth.
It’s huge, really and fearfully huge. It has in it truly everything we know about our clients: addresses, programs, numbers, names, prices, histories, and, perhaps the most important thing of all: who gets monetary credit for what.
There are only three people in the company that do this work. If this database were, say, a swimming pool, of the three people who know anything about this pool, two are Olympic-style swimmers and one is wearing water wings and showing her mom how she can do somersaults in the shallow end…
We’ll pause here, while you contemplate which one is me.
I am in this database pool anywhere between 12 and 20 times a day. The things I do to it are stupefying-ly mind-numbing. It’s repetitive work that requires nothing but a certain amount of dexterity and the ability to keep from committing hara-kiri with your letter opener as your brain ponders what has happened to your life…
Remember when you were learning about databases and filing systems? How the teacher told you to look at it as a big house, how in each room there were cabinets, how in each cabinet there were files, and that within files there were pieces of data?
Last week, I deleted the biggest room in the database house.
Another brief pause whilst I relive the horror.
In one key stroke – because the changes that I make require high clearance – I deleted 651 lines of data. Just like that. There was no “are you sure?” from the computer, no, “you’re kidding right? That’s nuts!”.
The computer did as I asked and deleted 651 lines of data.
The blood ran from my head.
I heard a roaring sound in my ears, and my arms went numb.
Six hundred and fifty-one lines of data.
Roll that number around in your head a bit.
Big number, innit?
I immediately confessed my sins to the swimmers in the deep end of this particular pool, of course; and they sent me a report of what had been deleted, offered to help put it back, and encouraged me not to stab myself in the neck, as I had offered.
It seemed right, somehow, that a blood sacrifice be made.
So! That’s my Wednesday. If anyone needs me, I’ll be at my desk, one hand tracking the next line on the report and the other punching the numbers in.
And if you’re on the 48th floor around 10:30, I’m going to need a piece of good chocolate, just to keep from crying.
The Power of Ideas and When They Fail
10 hours ago