Life in a day of Panic

I was recently listening to one of the many podcast I have in my queue, since I do a lot of driving I do a lot of listening.  This one, the Serial series started off reminding the listener that if your day isn’t filled with extraordinary events you would be hard pressed to recall those daily events days even months later, well I fall into the hours category on occasion.  Sure this particular podcast was in regards to a murder case, so that’s where the similarities end, but the host was right, The topic of the ArchiTalk #4 is “A day in the life of an Architect” and I have thought of many days to write about, the new guy, the job site visits and even the podcasting days. But most (even with those events) of those days were routine and nothing extraordinary stood out in my memory.  Actually truth be told, most likely, unlike my fellow #ArchiTalk’ers I was trying to write from memory rather than keeping a day to day account and of course I couldn’t remember half of the daily events.  So I scrapped draft after draft as I normally do on my blog post and decided to do the right thing and actually keep a daily account.

Wednesday day before Thanksgiving, morning came rather early as it always does, however, when I am still trying to recover from the lack of sleep which comes with every podcast recording I am dragging more than normal.  Though I am the one who gets to sacrifice sleep (can you tell?) for the greater good I am the one who gets off lucky and only loses a little bit of sleep, Neal does the show notes, and poor Evan has to edit the show and make us sound coherent.

The day of Panic

5:20a roles in way too quickly.  Sleepy, cranky and panicked, because we are heading out of town this evening after school lets out to head to family’s house in Michigan.  Panicked because, my truck was in the shop yesterday for a new tire and they couldn’t “quite fix” it right and now I have it in another shop for another problem. So not only will I need to do actual work but the day is going to be crazy just trying to get out of here for the long holiday weekend.  I mention this because as I said earlier normal days typically go unnoticed, I can tell at this hazy morning hour that this will be anything but a normal day.

6:20a:  First kids wake, its only a half day but still have to make them lunch…so first order of the day?  Convince them to buy lunch so that I can check that task off before it even starts.  They bought it – pun intended.

7:10a:  Delivery of the oldest kid to school, even though my oldest two are both in middle school and the SAME school, the brainiak oldest takes high school classes and has to be dropped off separately.

7:25a:  Pick up the other middle schooler, heaven forbid this kid get motivated too early in the morning and actually ride with us so that I can cut out the middle man and save a few minutes in traffic.  Nope so back home to get him, ugh. I constantly joke with him that I’ll just slow down and he can jump out, today is one of those days where I wish I really could make him.  I suppose i’d look like a bad parent pushing my kid out of a moving vehicle?  Anyone?

Back home at 7:45a to get the littlest ready, she is daddy’s girl so I never complain, but I am rather ansty today because there is so much to do and such a little window to do it all in before the targeted hitting the road “no later than 3:00p ” (yeah right).

8:15a:  Wifes out the door, Daughter out the door and after a few trips back in the house I’m out the door.

8:45a:  At my desk, after a few drive by chats in the office, e-mails are popping up, can already start to see my “to-do” list unravelling quickly.

rewind – last Friday, I got a 218,000sf systemic renovation project bid documents out the door, but since then we have received review comments from the State of Maryland and as typical want to try to get all of the comments (and the nagging oops we missed that) picked up before we get it officially out to bid on Dec 4th.  So, I have been corralling up all of the comments, responses and the consultant engineers so that I can get this “really” out to bid.  It is a panic (a word I will use a lot today).  Part of this rewind panic involves the fact that of the two project managers in the office one of them just put in his notice after 14 years here, so right now, it’s me…ugh, I feel the weight building up, but I do wish him luck he is now going to be a client.

9:00a:  My first of many nagging calls to the mechanic, because sure I am worried about getting the bid documents pulled together, but I am more worried that there will be some greater issues with my truck that we can’t take it on our trip. Though my wife keeps telling me that we can just take her car, and sure that would be fine. It is far easier to take my SUV that seats 8 so that we can keep the peace with the kids for the long drive, which as has it will be a drive filled with snow and freezing rain (foreshadowing – it was).  I get the office manager “let me get Jimmy”, Jimmy is the straight shooting mechanic that I really appreciated his old school approach.  “Jimmy speaking” – “Ah yes, Well”

 – Fuel Pressure Sensor

 – Purge Valve and Purge Valve Sensor

 – Crank/Cam Sensors (both of them)

All I really hear from the Charlie Brown “wah wah wah wa” is the ever sucking sound coming from my wallet…never good and with a 550 mile road trip through the snow, even more panic sets in.  “Call me in 2 hours when we get the parts in and we’ll start with the purge valve and see where it goes”  so full disclosure, I have had a check engine light on for 5 months now, and it is starting hard and idling hard.  So true to form  like my a visit to the doctor, I only have it checked out if I’m (it) is near death.

Well focus on work damn it, too much to do.

9:10a: First calls from client about the bid documents, he won’t have his part of the specifications done until Monday morning after Thanksgiving, well ok, that eases my manic panic to get everything done before I hit the road, so on to the next project.  bing, bing, bing three emails come in, three RFI (Request for Information) come in before I can even put the phone down.

9:12a:  Time to teach the new guy how to log in RFI’s on our data base system.  Thankfully they are coordinations for colors, a missed floor finish and the location (RE-location) of a fire annunciator panel.  Easypeasy.

So at this time the old saying in the Army was we do more before 9am than most of the world is starting to hold true.

Conference call time 10:30a, a project that am closing out has a problem, sorry no juicy details just now have to follow up with a very detailed 8 paragraph email, detailing findings, engineer opinions and direction for the contractors.

Earlier in the week we had a junior staff member put in his two weeks, now all of his projects need to be reassigned, guess who gets that pleasure? So new guy, meet me in the conference room so we can do a brain dump and get you up to speed.  More disclosure, when I say “new guy” I mean NEW, at the time of this post he has been in the profession for 5 days.

Spent 2 hours in the conference room being debriefed and briefing, passing the torch from old to new…I realized that the mechanic hasn’t called so I call them “so hows my truck?” – “they are testing the purge sensor now, we’ll call you right back”.  20min go by, nothing, so I am making the rounds to the various project teams making sure we are on track with task to do for those few suckers coming into the office on Friday, check, everyone has work to do, and on track to get the state comments rapped up and completed before this goes out to bid.  There is nothing more I hate then having to issue addendums for responses to permit questions or state review questions.  Typically not our fault, but some of these review durations take WAY TOO LONG.

Now an hour later nothing from the mechanic 1:30p and I am two hours from the estimated “hitting the road” time of 3:30p and my wife has only texted me 50 times to find out if the truck is done? am I on my way? Called the the mechanic back, “Oh, yeah, sorry I forgot to call you back”, “Yeah, you’ve been ready since 11:00a.  Hung up the phone, steaming…oh, and it’s snowing outside.

1:30p: Boss closes office, give everyone 4 hours of admin time…couldn’t have come at a better time.  Off to get the truck.

1:35p: friend and co-worker is dropping me off to get my truck and the other tire shop calls me and lets me know that the air pressure sensor in my replaced tire is in and if I want come on by and it’ll be 30min to replace it. OK, on the way.

It’s now 2:15p dropping the truck off to get the tire air sensor installed, “come back in 30min we’ll be wrapped up and will get you on those holiday roads” — **yeah, sure**, well thankfully I am near food and I just remembered that I haven’t eaten at all today.

3:15p: (15min from the “hitting the road time”) and they aren’t done yet, so much for those holiday roads i’ll be on.  I start texting my wife, she is now on my panic wagon, she has told everyone we’ll be there at such and such time.  She asked “how long?”  Well if 30min = an hour and they still aren’t finished then the answer is clearly “I have no clue”.  3:33p FINISHED!!! only 5min from the house so we’ll shouldn’t be too long before we are on the road.  Right?

4:35p: finally on the road…yeah, you knew they weren’t ready, didn’t you?

Westward Ho!!

Maryland (snow)

Pennsylvania (slow)

Ohio (snow)

Featured image

1:30a – Michigan, typical 9 hours, stop for food, pee break x 3, gas, I’m really tired COFFEE.

I know this wasn’t the most glamourous of days, and most of the real day wasn’t even spent on architecturally related things, well actually sure 6 hours of it.

Thank you for coming along on my manicked panicked day trying to get out of town and detach for just a few days until it is back to the grind of another manic panic day.  Be sure to read all of the ArchiTalk #4 entries, see links below:

18 responses to “Life in a day of Panic

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  4. I read that post and even though I didn’t live through it, all I could think of (repeatedly) was “oof” over and over again. I sternly dislike days like the one you describe, yet somehow they all seem to go like that for me (minus the car repairs and the driving in snow bits). Deadline to deadline – there’s always a clock running on my time.

    Good thing I kind of like it (what does that say about me?!?)

    Thanks for sharing.


    • Bob, the nature of TIME in our profession might be a good notion to build the next topic around. Deadlines, schedule projections and how our work, lives and families interact with the contingencies seems like some fertile territory for rich content. What say you?


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  8. Man, you’re right our days are so much alike. My days frequently blur between work duties and getting the car fixed duties so that by the time we go to bed, those lives have overlapped seven times or more.

    I’m eager to see a sketch of the mechanic now.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for reminding me I need to call the glass company about fixing the chips in my windshield before it completely cracks like last year! I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s worlds blend together. Afterall, Architecture is a lifestyle, not a job!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, you better. We drove around in my wifes car with a chip, then it grew to a crack, then it ended up looking like a spiderweb across the entire windshield. Winter is coming, glad I could turn this into a PSA.


  10. Seems like a close call on the truck. There is nothing quite like having to get car repairs done the day you are leaving on a trip. I am glad it all worked out and hope you had a relaxing thanksgiving in the state up north.


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