Survivor’s Guilt

My work at Mega-Corp Telecommunication Devices Inc. is done through a consulting agency.  I might have mentioned this before.  My work is fairly normal tech support stuff, but with a couple of extra responsibilities such as ticket queue management, handling the negative feedback tickets and some other ad-hoc server maintenance tasks. 

Hello, helpdesk?

The nature of helpdesk work now-a-days means that calls go to a call centre in India, and then cases which can’t be solved on the first call are passed to Local IT.  This has meant the dramatic drop in our work load, and yesterday saw two colleagues suddenly sent home because of this.

The actual time-line was something like this.  Phone call at 10:00 and then a couple of hours later our line manager had the awful job of escorting our colleague of the premises.  Whilst a swift kick to the nuts is better than spending a week worrying about it beforehand, the ripples from how this was handled rushed out like an emotional tidal wave.  The opening paragraph of Wikipedea’s article sums this up pretty well.

What I noticed in my colleagues and myself, was that as the initial shock was starting to wear off we tried to make sense of what had just happened by re-creating feelings of control in ourselves and over the environment.  So, we moved a shelving unit around by 90 degrees.  It accomplished almost nothing.  Maybe it freed up a little floor space between a couple of rows of desks, but nothing more.  There was talk of moving a couple of tables end-to-end to make a longer work space, but considering the spaghetti of wires across the tables and around the legs, this seemed to much like hard work.

Deck chairs on the Titanic

Today there was a more drastic move in that we held a short impromptu team meeting to re-allocate work loads.  This is pretty much like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  The distinction between On-Site Support and Supply Chain has been removed and we’ll each take turns going through the hardware needing to be recycled or disposed of.  This doesn’t create any extra work for us, but is an exercise in asserting control over an uncertain environment.  For myself, I don’t do change well.  It’s bad enough losing a colleague without having to change a stable work routine as well.  No matter which way you slice it, there isn’t enough work.

In terms of my own mental turmoil; I’m in that crazy of being immensely grateful for still having a job yet at the same time feeling bad for still having a job.  The guys who were let go were good solid workers who did their share of the work.  Looking at some metrics it could be argued that may be I should be sat at home (playing guitar, killing zombies, long peaceful dog walks through snow covered forests..).  If my only saving grace was a couple of minor responsibilities which the other guys are equally (if not more) qualified to handle, then I feel perfectly justified for feeling bad.

Flipping this thing on it’s head, I’m trying to find some scriptural texts to hang onto.  At the moment there are a couple I can go with:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “(Jeremiah 29:11)


“22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[b]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!”  (Luke 12:22-28)

Quote note on Luke’s final four words, I interpret this as meaning “Come on, what were you thinking!?”, not a reprimand.

My day in court.

The interesting thought that came to mind just now during a contemplative comfort break, is that in order for me to be guilty, there should be a few conditions met.  Firstly, I should have done something to be accused of, secondly there must be an accuser bringing charges against me and thirdly I need a judge.  This is the point where I crack my theological knuckles, so if you might be upset by this, you might best wandering off to youtube for a while.  😉

In terms of a charge, there really isn’t one.  I do my job to the best of my ability and to date, my line manager hasn’t had to sit me down “for a quick chat” yet.

For the judge?  Well, since I call myself Christian that will have to be God.  If I set out to judge myself and pass sentence that I am guilty, then this assumes that I know better than God and that, I contest, is a shaky place to be.  God is a fair judge and at this point I’m also going to invoke Romans 8:1.

The only remaining condition is the accuser.  That one, I would call the devil.  The bible has a number of colourful names for this guy such as “the father of lies” and “the accuser of the brethren” to name but two.  Taking note of these descriptions it would be fair to say that charges of “Wilfully having a job, when he shouldn’t.” are false, without merit and brought by, at best, an unreliable and shady prosecutor.

The defence rests, m’ Lud.



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