This is a monthly blog party, on a central theme. This month the theme is Beach Time, from Jason Brimhall, and it’s a good one. This is the 9th T-SQL Tuesday, started by Adam Machanic on his blog earlier this year.
I’ll admit, when I travel I typically over-pack a bit. I think it’s because I’m a little anal-retentive, a little detail oriented, and I hate missing things when I’m traveling. I know I can usually buy my way out of a jam, but sometimes it’s a pain, and I don’t like it.
What do I need to do before I leave? There’s one big thing here, and that’s communicate. If I have processes that will notify me of problems, or things to watch, I have to be sure that I have someone watching for those notifications, and I have trained them on what to do. I need to let my boss know who will be covering for me (if they haven’t designated someone) and I need to let any customer service people, business analysts, etc. that I typically work with, that I’ll be gone.
All of this leads to my second point: expectations. I haven’t always done a good job of setting expectations in the past, and have been interrupted while on vacation. Part of that is OK if you’re well-paid, you’re the go-to-guy, but you don’t want that to be the default when you’re on vacation. Let your boss know that emergencies mean down systems, not a sales guy trying to close a deal for his month. It means significant loss of revenue, not a report that the boss wants today instead of next week.
This is hard, but it pays to set expectations, and it pays to respond to inappropriate calls with “I’m on vacation, we can talk when I get back.” This is much better than “call me if you have a problem,” which invites people to interrupt you, disturbs your family, and doesn’t teach others to think for themselves. Let them flounder a bit; I can almost guarantee they’ll be fine.
There are true emergencies, and it’s possible that whoever you leave in charge can’t judge them well. They might call you and ask if this is a problem, and you might need to take that call. Ever since cell phones have been common, since around 1996 or so, I’ve had one. It’s typically been used for work, with me billing back some of the charges. Before that, I had a pager.
I’ve had numerous interruptions over the years, but two emergencies that stood out. One was when I worked for a small company and took vacation because I had family in town. I was around the local area, and took a call from my boss near the end of my vacation that a server was down. A RAID controller had failed, and while the sysadmin had replaced it, they couldn’t restore the SQL Server. They kept running this:
RESTORE DATABASE XXX FROM DISK = ‘YYYY.bak’
RESTORE LOG XXX FROM DISK = ‘ZZZZZ_1.trn’
RESTORE LOG XXX FROM DISK = ‘ZZZZZ_2.trn’
Anyone see an issue? Yep, they weren’t using NORECOVERY. They actually were using the GUI, but I recognized the issue. I was driving nearby, and started walking them through the issue, but realized it would be quicker if I just helped. I stopped by, explained what was happening while starting the restore, and then built a quick script to grab all the log files (about a dozen) and restore them all for them.
My second emergency was for the SQL Slammer worm. It actually hit on a Sunday night as I was driving back from a ski vacation. Work couldn’t reach me since there was no cell service, but had convened an all-hands meeting since the network at a Fortune 1000 company was actually shut down. I got a message when I got home and went to work that night. Vacation ended early, but I made up some time later in the week.
Vacations are Hard
It’s hard to prep for being away. It’s hard to make sure work is done, and that things function without you. I know many people worry that if things go too smooth when they’re gone, the company won’t see them as valuable.
I think that’s wrong. You can bring value to the company, and still be away. The key is to pace yourself, and don’t get too overworked. If you have deadlines, make sure they account for vacation, and perhaps push things back. You don’t want to be unreasonable, but don’t be all-accommodating either. It will upset your balance, and could ruin your vacation.