Friday, September 27, 1996

Attitude Adjustment

We had to pause for attitude adjustment after work today.

I used to scoff at that kind of comment. Yeah, attitude adjustment, right, ya just mean an excuse to suck down a few beers after work... but today I could see it actually working.

Don't get me wrong, 'cause I really like my job. I get to spend (depending on the course I'm teaching) anywhere from two days to a full week in a room with bright and talented professionals from all around the world discussing technical subjects. Monday and Tuesday I taught a two day course to a very small class, just three people, one from Germany, one from Australia, and one from the U.S. The prior week I taught a full week course with several Americans plus students from half a dozen other countries: one each from Brazil, Turkey, Germany, Australia, England, and Canada. So, maybe you don't spend much time discussing CICS or FEPI or how message driven middleware can allow a company to leverage its heritage code, but I do, and I enjoy it.

Never-the-less, sometimes things can happen that make me a bit cranky...and today was one of those days. A number of my colleagues were also feeling somewhat disgruntled and as it got near five o'clock spontaneous cries of "Attitude adjustment!" began to ring out.

As I think about it, I realize that throughout most of my professional career I rarely stopped off with my colleagues after work unless it was a gathering with someone who was leaving or getting married or undergoing some such state-change. Back in January and February we were involved in an intense effort to completely rewrite all of our courses. Most of the department was putting extra hours and a few of us were putting in 60 - 70 - even 80 hour weeks. Two or three times we stopped to have a beer and some munchies together on our way home, a chance to decompress after putting in a fourteen hour day. And this past summer instructors and students might stop at an establishment with a deck overlooking a beach. (Have I mentioned that we are located in a corporate park just outside of the Newport city limits. Yeah, that Newport, the one with the yachts and the mansions, etc....and the beach I just did mention is the one where they held the jump-out-of-an-airplane-on-a-surfboard competition for this year's X-games on ESPN.) But those were social occasions...this was mental therapy.

And I was amazed to discover what can be accomplished with a couple pitchers of beer, a plate of hot wings, and an hour or so spent letting off steam. We entered tense & cranky & annoyed and left laughing and relaxed. (No, it was not the beer, none of us actually drank very much.) I should try to polish my grant-writing skills, this is an area obviously in need of deeper study. The synergistic effects obtained by supplying bleu cheese and celery sticks along with the Buffalo hot wings. Or perhaps The Correlation of the Relative Heat of the Hot Wings and the Degree of Relaxation Achieved.

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