What Counts For a DBA: Duty

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It has been a long month. We had the PASS Data Community Summit just a month ago, and I came home with a hitchhiking virus (no, not that one). I dragged through Thanksgiving, got better, and went on vacation. I got back home from vacation, and, well, I was sick again.

Looking at my calendar this morning, I realized it was time for the Simple-Talk editorial to go in the newsletter. As I searched my lists of possible topics I had accumulated, none suited how I felt. Then it hit me, “duty”. This editorial needs to be written, and it is my duty to make that happen.

The topic reminded me of the years I was on call. Anytime you are in an admin/support role, there will be times when you just have to work through it. Many nights, the phone would start ringing (I am a heavy sleeper, so I made an extra loud ringtone from the Agents of Shield Theme song, starting at 31 seconds in). I typically felt a lot like I do now sitting there at 3 AM, feeling sort of sick, tired, confused, staring at the screen, trying to figure out how to get started on the task at hand. Then the questions arise. Why am I sitting in front of this screen with my ears stuffy, half awake, trying to figure out some bug that I usually didn’t cause (it was usually, but not always, the fault of front-end software that didn’t use enough constraints.) Why is this my job? What am I doing with my life? (Stuff comes up when you are shocked awake, especially in the middle of the night.)

Of course, even if it was painful, it did make some sense, which I reminded myself of regularly. I was on the reporting team, and our daily analysis of activity was the only critical process that needed to be completed by the morning so upper management could make decisions on how to direct the next day’s business. We took pride in making our software get the most correct answer, and the price for this was that two thirds of the on-call activity was dealing with non-conforming data that we would just have to deal with manually. All the team members took turns, so it wasn’t that much of a burden, but that was never how it felt when the sun was still hiding on the other side of the planet and I was sitting behind my keyboard trying to keep my eyes open.

In the case of my job here as editor, well, I could almost certainly ask for help, but I prefer to do my duty and make sure I do the essential work if I am able.