We’ve had a couple of emergencies at work lately. I can’t get into too much detail but what I can mention is that the main software I work on is responsible for large volumes of financial transactions.
So… things can go wrong, just like any system, and there is a lot of pressure, but depending on the service, not much time to fix things. For example, transactions have cut-off times, and if you miss them, the only way to fix things is to resubmit, but using a shorter lead-time service type not even implemented by the system. That’s all I can say without giving away anything that’s too confidential.
The point is, when things go wrong in a financial system, its a big deal. For example, you might end up in a situation where millions worth of revenue passing through the system might… not pass through the system. (Or imagine the other extreme – millions of revenue passed through but doubled, or a fault with some kind of floating point conversion means 100 times the amount. Fortunately that didn’t happen here. But just imagine.)
And on more than one occasion, the person to fix the problems, was me. Me! The same me who couldn’t be trusted to implement even simple code fixes to a far smaller system back in 2009. The same me who couldn’t be relied upon for anything for several years.
These kinds of problems can end with people losing their jobs. There’s not always much recognition when someone fixes these kinds of things (thank goodness because I don’t want too much of that, thank you), and these events will hopefully mostly be forgotten, certainly not how things would be if the disasters were not averted, but that’s not my focus here. My focus is me sitting here and reflecting on how weird it feels that people rely on me, and even if the details are forgotten, the positive effect on my reputation will remain.
I remember sitting in code reviews back in 2009, trying to act like I wasn’t confused. I was working for a company that produced software used by attorneys at the time – it generated documents and did some accounting, but nowhere near as complicated as what I’ve worked on the last few years. I couldn’t get anything right, and I could barely understand what I was doing wrong – because I was so messed up and confused… and so high on meth all the time.
And here I am, doing my part to save the day. There’s no way the old me could have done this. It feels good to be reliable. I mean, these people have no idea just how far I’ve come, but I am glad to be of use.