Chicken Little Syndrome

I’ve been unfortunate enough to work with all kinds of people.  Life would be so much easier if everyone were trying to be all they could be.  But nooooo….people are far to satisfied with being mediocre.  They’re happy not knowing enough to do their jobs.  They’re happy running to someone else to get their jobs done.

So I’m on holidays right now.  Got the week between Christmas and New Years off (me and every other programmer on the project).  Stupid me says “Oh I’ll be in town so if disaster strikes I can be found at my cell number”.  I figured that the fact I said “…if disaster strikes…” would indicate that I’m only willing to take calls in the most dire of situations.  Apparently I should have laid this out in a clearer fashion.  Something along the lines of “I’ll take a call only if the moon is hurtling towards the earth, and then only if it is going to hit my igloo”.

This morning I woke up to my cell phone ringing (conveniently on the other side of the igloo).  I missed the call and quickly was listening to the message.  “The sky is falling.  The sky is falling.”  So I return the call to find out the “problem” is that “…my processing hasn’t taken place and I’ve waited at least 5 minutes…”

A little background for you here.  Our system has a web user interface that saves information to a database (sounds like a million other programs eh?).  After saving a message is sent to a MSMQ queue and it’s processing can jump into a retry loop.  That retry is configured, by default, to 30 minutes intervals.

Back to our fearless chicken caller.  No matter how many times I’ve told this particular individual that this is the case, they don’t get it.  Maybe they do get it, but alas it is stored in volatile memory.  At one point I set the retry interval to 5 minutes and Chicken Little still appeared at my desk proclaiming that his transaction was “hung” and “I’ve waited for about 10 minutes and nothing is happening”.  I looked in the logs and the queue only to find that the transaction had been submitted only 3 minutes earlier.

My question is why do people do this?  Is it lack of knowledge, lack of patience or something else?  I can’t subscribe to the idea that it is lack of knowledge since I’ve repeatedly mentioned retries, retry interval durations and even given brief tutorials on asynchronous programming. 

In my mind that leaves lack of patience as the only option.  People find it too easy to just run over to someone else and ask for the answer.  “Is it done yet?”  Although they come asking a simple question really they are pushing their work onto you.  Instead of searching for the information they get you to search for them.  Instead of analysing the situation they get you to do it.

What’s the problem with that?  First, my time is already booked at work  I only wish I had someone on our team with the sole purpose of chasing other peoples work.  I don’t though so I have to push off my work and resolve the “Sky is falling” issues.  The second thing that concerns me is that people who do this type of thing don’t seem to absorb the knowledge that you try to transfer to them.  This usually means that knowledge of the system is centralised in a select group of people who invariable will, at some point in time, become a victim of the “hit by a bus” scenario.

In the end it comes down to respect.  Respect for your coworker, and respect for yourself.

I’m the Igloo Coder and I’m trying to put a seal skin chair in the corner of my igloo.  Could you tell me where the corner is?