On Emergencies

There’s a coffee mug somewhere that says something to the effect of, “your lack of planning is not my emergency,” or something like that.  I’ve recently had occasion to question whether anything at my company is actually an emergency.  According to Google, an emergency is defined as:

a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring 
immediate action.

It’s true, my company designs medical devices, among other things, but our involvement is typically long before FDA submission, let alone when the products are actually in the field.  Too, if one of the products we designed did start going completely haywire, we would not be the first people to call: the first step would be neutralizing the problem (getting the product to where it couldn’t harm anybody), then contacting the device OEM (our customer), and only then we might get a call.

Of course, when I’m doing risk management, the intent is to design products so that even if something does go haywire, the product still remains safe.  It might not work correctly anymore, but at least it’s not actively hurting somebody.  In short, my job is to identify ways things can fail so we can design them to avoid emergencies.

So, barring a case where a product is actively harming somebody—which is very unlikely, given the products we’ve done so far and the risk mitigations we’ve put in—I don’t think anything related to my company could possibly be considered an emergency insofar as I’m involved.  And if that’s the case, then maybe I don’t need to be checking my email all the time.  Maybe when a deadline is looming or past due, I’m within my rights to say, “that’s not my problem.”  Maybe I don’t need to be at work until 9:00 or 10:00 at night or working weekends.

True, I don’t want to be a jerk about it, but at the same time, being salaried, if I work extra hours, I don’t get paid for it.  Company policy is against comp time, so I’m basically doing charity work for the company.  And what can I say, I’m not feeling all that charitable: I don’t like what I do, yet I do it fervently anyway.  Worst of all, though, is that despite my fervor and attention to detail, I’m constantly being second-guessed by everybody on every team.  There is nothing rewarding about what I do, and doing extra for the benefit of a company of people who expect me to do more for free and then want to second-guess it?  No, there’s no incentive there.  Selfish?  Maybe.  Avoiding burnout?  Definitely.  Got to last until I can find a new job.

In truth, the only emergencies I really need to care about are related to the health of my animals foremost, my family and friends, and the intactness of the property and the buildings and vehicles on it.  Aside from that, it’s all just noise.  Serenity prayer.  Serenity prayer.

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