Was it Douglas Adams who said, “I like deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
Last week, one of them almost whooshed me by, chuckling with glee, watching me gape at it – helpless and unable to do anything as I was to stop it or get past it. But I did have the last laugh. For the time being, anyway. The trouble with Deadlines is that they keep coming back, again and again, relentless and merciless, forever striving to catch us off guard. (There is one around the corner, smirking, as I write, and the race to get past it begins the moment this post is published.)
Back to last week. I thought I had everything under control. I thought I was sufficiently ahead so that I could send the completed work hours before the Deadline. I thought I could allow myself a decelerated pace as I finished the last couple of hours of work. After all, End of the Day was still more than 12 hours away.
It was Friday morning. In a couple of hours, my work would be done and I could verify it one last time before sending it. Have you experienced that fearsome burst of self-confidence that comes with the belief that you have everything under control? That up-in-the-air feeling that requires a real hard knock on the head to bring you back to terra firma? Ya certainly do.
So I was merrily typing away, occasionally making my presence known in Twitter, Facebook etc., when suddenly *poof!* went the power supply, taking my UPS and my PC down with it. Bescom, I realised then, had re-started load shedding with no warning or schedules – as usual. I work on this ordinary, ancient desktop PC and not a laptop, so there is no question of backup unless my UPS wills it. When the UPS resurfaced, beeping – giving no explanation for its behaviour: isn’t it supposed to hold the fort when power goes down? – I quickly booted the system to see if my precious work was lost. The UPS was beeping away in its most alarming tone ever. I barely had enough time to get to Windows desktop, open my file and see if it is fine, and then shut the system down. As I opened the file, my heart pounding faster than the beeps of the UPS – I guess I did have some premonition – Windows showed me an error that the file is corrupted and needs some installation to restore it. Before more harm was done, I shut down the PC. Then followed a tense half hour till Bescom decided to return the power, of panicked texting to friends to ask how to restore a corrupted file and so on. By half an hour, I had made up my mind to rework the whole thing. The only trouble was that the ‘whole thing’ was three days’ worth of effort.
When power supply was restored at the end of half an hour, I discovered that my file was intact: in my hurry I had opened an intermediate file and not the real one. I heaved a sigh of relief, but it was short-lived. The next ordeal was not far away. Bescom dealt the next card: power fluctuations, that started as soon as I started working. All I could do in the little time was to back up my work to two places – in the local drive and on the Net. The fluctuations went on till six in the evening. By now, I was far from ‘expecting’ and ‘hoping’ modes, and was deep into ‘praying feverishly’ mode. Then suddenly, all was silent and there was no power. Whether it meant good or bad news, I wasn’t sure – till my neighbours came over and told me, the electrician from Bescom had come and disconnected the supply for those who hadn’t paid the last month’s bill.
“When was the last date?” I asked.
“The day before yesterday.” Who in the world remembers to pay the bill before the due date? I do, every month. Alas, this time I missed it.
That’s when I really broke out in cold sweat. There was no way I could get the bill paid in the evening, get the line connected, finish the work and send it by the EOTD, which was now right in front of my eyes. Frantic phone calls to the apartment manager for some workaround, requests to neighbours to use their PC in the evening, etc. ensued. To cut an already overflowing story short, within an hour, with ample help from the rest of this world and the next, the bill was paid, the line was connected and I was back at my seat, typing as I never did, and met the deadline with time to spare.
The morals of the story…
1. Keep your work backed up in at least three places
2. Complete the work well ahead of deadlines
3. Self-confidence is good, but overconfidence most often isn’t
4. Bescom is God, or very close to Him.
Whether I have learnt my lesson from this episode remains to be seen.
Whoa, what a rant this has been. But then, what a Friday it had been.
Related post: Murphy’s Laws