Disclaimer: meant for pure reading- Do not try comparing the scenarios some of which are fictional, on urself or you may end up drawing inferences. 😉
As I write this article, I am sitting in my 2bhk luxury apartment’s patio in the United states of America, 8.30 in the evening, a drizzling cloudy weather almost at dusk, a personal laptop showing low battery warning and an escalation conveyed via my personal phone from one of my client SMEs few minutes back. I just felt like writing a note on my day to day life in US which is a dream for majority of the IT workers in India.
I wake up every morning 7’O clock, join the Delivery status meeting with my onshore and offshore team, waiting for my turn to come up almost for an hour, preparing myself for my lovely day in parallel, that will be spent up attending meetings, doing Financial validations and Accounts testing for a client, doing my client SMEs work, reviewing my offshore team’s work and a fear filled environment- where everything needs to be perfect or else I will have to answer my supervisor, my manager, my client SME, my client manager and then worst of all my client’s director- which may take my job away. Such has been my life for almost 5 years now, on the completion of which my company sent me a congratulations mail recently.
Then I drive to work, taking client status call via the hands free, which has been specially provided to the people like me, thanks to the smart cars nowadays. Without taking a single minute’s break I reach the parking area, walk down almost half a kilometer providing the Client manager the status of the last day and plans for today. As soon as I reach my cubicle and my work-laptop connects to the client network there will be some- one waiting for an answer from me on an issue they encountered the last day. It may be someone from my onshore team, my offshore team, my automation team, my client’s team and if no one else, my manager. The dream of getting a hot coffee from the cafeteria shatters down in a moment and I don’t get a second to regret as I get busy with the pending work or review work from the last day or the current day’s offshore work. I don’t get time to have my breakfast and if in case on some lucky days I do, it is sure that someone will give me a call saying you are being shown away on the communicator since last 15 mins (as if I was the only one unaware about it), and we need your help ASAP. This ASAP jargon is used so redundantly in IT that it has lost its meaning- it just means- damn you, my work keeps the utmost priority, finish it first!
Anyway, I run back to my cubicle, because every work that is done in IT is supposed to be done “ASAP” and “thinking about your delivery” is the last thing you should do. I reply to that person with the update he needs, move onto finishing up my priority deliveries. Suddenly I get a meeting reminder of a meeting due in next 15 mins-it is time for “Another Call”. Now, you see the “Call” word is so important in the IT industry that it has to be prioritized more than a nature’s call, though you have no role to play in most of these meeting calls but “you know” you are expected to be an all rounder, keeping an eye on all the towers, all the business the company is doing and all the technologies it is planning to implement and (sic.) all the work that is happening across the globe. So you join-in in that call and with earphones plugged into your ears you try focusing on your work. The call goes on for an hour and by the time the call gets over you notice that while you were attending the call, you were working at half of your normal working speed. So, as soon as it wraps up, I again start doing my work with full focus, when suddenly someone asks for my time to get a peer review done for his work and per his knowledge I am the only one who has the functional knowledge related to his work. I tell the person that I am really busy with my own work but he insists that his delivery is a priority one and the manager has asked him to reach out to me. And thus, I end up fixing again a 1 hour meeting with him. Within such time frames I try to find out time for my work and since my work mostly belongs to that of Financial and Accounts testing, I need to be very sure of my deliveries and their respective timelines. As the clock ticks 5 in the evening, I can feel that happiness that Business closing hour is approaching when suddenly I get an escalation mail on some scripts which were asked to be loaded yesterday from my client. Now there is a point to note here that the scripts loading deadline is somewhere in the next week, but an escalation happened on me because the client which asked me to load the scripts yesterday, reported it to his manager that he has completed his work a week in advance- though he delegated the work to me and between all the hustle which I go through every-day it went out of my mind.
Here starts the problem, the SME who sent me that mail asking me a reason looped in my supervisor asking as to why were the scripts not loaded when he asked the work to be done yesterday evening. My supervisor adds my manager in loop asking the same question and then runs to my cubicle just to ensure that I will finish up the work the very same day at any cost. I who was supposed to be leaving at 5 pm stays back to discuss on why were the scripts not loaded and then gives a written confirmation again via email that things will be done by tonight. Things don’t end here, now management comes into picture. While you are driving home, you get a call from your manager asking again as what stopped me from loading the script when it was asked a day before by the client. You provide the same reasons and then he says “This will be taken care of when time comes”.
Meanwhile you reach home, open the door and your kitchen is waiting in an uncleaned state. You quickly change, rush to cook something fast, as in the daytime, you couldn’t get time to go for lunch. Before you start your cooking you have to clean the cooking utensils and by the time this job gets over you feel so tired out that you plan on eating processed food. I check my refrigerator then, for some processed frozen food packs and hence, I usually end up eating the frozen food by cooking it in minutes in the Microwave. When I am chewing my food I think of the work that has been pending and has been escalated and analyse from multiple angles- was it really my fault or am I another victim of this Industry. Before reaching the conclusion I connect VPN start doing my work and when I realize that I am almost approaching to a closure of this assignment the clock ticks 12 in the night.
I quickly get up, planning on completing at least 7 hours of sleep when someone from my team drops a message(mind it- sometimes it comes in Whats app too) that there is meeting at 4 in the morning with leadership from India delivering a Contract Awareness/ effort estimate discussion or a root cause analysis discussion on delivery errors/ contingency planning for next release. I switch off the lights get into my blanket and just feel like checking the top stories at the hour form India. When I am done through the little app of various news broadcasters another hour goes off. Thinking on next day’s work and about the escalations I go to sleep for next 3 hours. That is the only time that I give to myself round the hour. On the weekends, nowadays I have started giving myself time by comforting my sleep deprived body some rest and on Sundays I do some cooking in my kitchen. Earlier I used to dedicate my weekends also to my employer.
Though the same sequence of events doesn’t happen every day, but the day of an IT employee revolves around this same article, including me. Such has been my life for last 6 months and a little better than this for another four and half years last to these six months.
Little did I know during my college days when I was an engineering student of Computer science that none of my Techincal/programming skills will be of use in the practical Business-Computer world. I do 100 percent of my work on excel sheet and I am paid good- per American standards for that. You may call me a sad character when you read this through but mind it, it is the same story or rather worse for the random people I pick around and discuss about their work life balance. Trust me on this if you are enjoying your work right now you have less experience than I hold in this Industry and in case you are senior to me and still happy, you have accepted this life as your fate. Ask yourself an honest question, would you like to see your children to work the same way- day and night just to live a life which has good money but no time to spend on it. I asked the same question from most of the senior employees around me, mostly managers. The honest answer was- “I will ask my child to join IT only if he is unable to get any other job in the market”.
I know I have the comfort, luxuries and money which normally majority of the human beings don’t have but trust me I don’t have the time to live these luxuries. What is the meaning then, of owning such luxuries, sustaining so much of stress, making your eyes dry and making your body diseased slowly. The best you can achieve by your hard work is a IT Manager’s role in a 12 years time frame.
These 12 years are the most important years of your life, when you can read books, write papers, get ideas to develop your society, your culture, work on your interests to pursue your passion. Remember, it is never late to adapt to a life on your terms, but it may be late while you realize your terms for life. Don’t run the rat race, rather run the race which gives you life, a life to breathe your dreams. And yeah- join IT Industry only if you have got nothing else to do. Rest is all about your and my perspective, which may differ!
I have a dream to contribute in the upliftment of my society, and have decided to start breathing for it “ASAP” 😉 !
Thoughts and comments welcome.