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renewing Promises

by | Dec 6, 2020 | Promise, renew, The Avett Brothers

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The culture of most Ops groups are the same everywhere… and yet unique compared to other parts of IT.  It is almost entirely understood by one simple metric:  have you been on call yet?  New guys (and they were mostly and are guys) would show up with an impressive resume, and be put through a decent interview process, and start to fit into the team, and then their name would show up on the rotation for “primary”.  You had it for a week – 7 days, 24 hours a day, and you prayed that you didn’t have a “credential” or “power” problem, but you never knew.  And it is sorta hazing in a gentle way – can you get through a week without asking for a lot of help from others… and the first “on-call” is always a test… 

It is ironic that our largest teammate turned out to be Roo, the smallest character in the 100 Acre Wood.  He came to us from Nebraska, and is almost exactly what you would expect:  big, fairly quiet, a huge smile always, and exceptionally easy going.  Roo is described as “cheerful, playful and energetic joey and the youngest in the group.  He looks up to Pooh and Tigger like older brothers. Roo’s mind is a sponge, always asking questions and trying to understand the world around him.  Unfortunately, Roo doesn’t question what he learns, and therefore tends to readily believe anything he is told.”  After his first time “on-call”, he came back with “That was AWESOME!”… to which we all looked… puzzled.  Call – Awesome??  And … Roo came into the team, like me, with an engineering degree… 

…  which is mostly looked at with disdain. The appetite for learning in Ops is voracious, but sitting in a classroom with an expert – yea, no.  Can you actually DO it?  Fingers on the keyboard, make it actually come together?  The science and algorithms of “computers” mostly doesn’t matter – it is getting them to dance regularly and consistently and reliably that is the metric.  There is a new term being bantered around now – Site Reliability Engineering – ie, will it work over all the different conditions that will be faced?  And like power and credentials, the best plans go out the window with new conditions… and you prove it when you are “on-call”. 

Without Bob Crawford, we would likely never have heard of the Avett’s, who as I have said were already legends in their own minds, waiting for the world to discover them. They decided to be a real “bluegrass band” they needed an upright bass player, and through mutual friends, met him… in a parking lot.  You met him last week in “renewing your Thanks”) They didn’t know he had just BOUGHT the bass, but the audition seemed to go as well as an audition in a parking lot can, and just like that, he was in the legendary band.

And his first role was enthusiastically cheering the band into ACTUALLY doing it.  Seth wrote, “… convincing Scott and Seth that a viable career in music would not magically show up at the front door, merely because they had wished for it and written multiple drafts of their eventual Grammy Award acceptance speeches.  Crawford felt, bizarrely to the brothers, that in order to pursue a life in music, a person had to actually go out and play music. They took his word for it, albeit with a good deal of suspicion. 

Bob immediately started hustling and booking the band, and the brothers went along, and because he had hustled most of his life, he was good at it, and they became an overnight sensation – 10 years later.  In that time, he would meet his wife through the band and have 2 daughters, one of which we heard about last week.  His abiding faith helped drive through that challenge in his classic hustle way, and yet, when you hear him talk about it, you know that he has been through a life-changing faith experience. 

Like Bob, Roo met his future wife once he joined our “band” – who literally COULD be Roo with her dimensions, and being a particularly short Korean woman. With Roo being a particularly tall Midwesterner, they were the cutest and most unique couple.  He brought so much fun to everything we did with Nerf Rifles, and his contagious smile and positive attitude. He was also a walking site-gag, towering over almost everyone, and then returning to his “cube” that we gave to contractors, where his shoulders barely fit between the walls… which he named, “The Urinal”.

I brought my youngest with me to “Bring your Kid to Work Day” and he hung out with him for the whole day, and I am convinced this is where my youngest stopped studying and set his eyes on Ops, where he is also thriving today. Those books and teachers couldn’t hold a candle to “Watch this!” and typing away… He was a bright spot on any day, and you could easily overlook how that contagious enthusiasm and support, particularly for me who was making some of the hard decisions… well I literally think “What would Roo smile at here?” 25 years later.  They are there, and without them, the Owls, Rabbits, and even Christopher Robin’s become too harsh, and miss the fun of actually BEING a team together. 

They are the glue that is often lost …. unless you see it, and realize, using their language, “This is frigging AWESOME!!!”.  Particularly this year as they are separated from that fun, it is up to you to find a way to “allow” that fun back into sobering times… and cheer you and the team on. Roo in fact, right in character has bet me that I won’t get the team back together again, as we did for 10 years – every Christmas season.  I have lost the Promise so far… but i already decided this week’s writing is going to end up as an invitation, which will be going out this afternoon. They renew you, with a smile, of what is important… 

As we reach the end of our time with the Avett’s, and the characters of the 100-acre wood, I want to pick a fitting close to both of these chapters.  If you don’t see these characters, you’re not looking, and you also don’t have the team you need – now, or in the future.  Roo would say “You can do this!!!”… as would I, with my new title as Minister of Encouragement. And being Sunday, you know that faith is in here somewhere, and I see it in these lyrics.  You may not, but yesterday’s thinking about what happens the day before you die… And today’s, what do you envision is left behind as you finish up your last acts on this earth.  There is another Avett song, The Curve that I almost used today.  It has these lines:  “Well my good Lord was with me tonight,  Just ridin’ beside me tonight And now we’re just talkin’, Hitch-hikin’, walkin’, We’ll see you in Concord tonight.”  That’s the picture of my Good Lord… and if you don’t see it, well… No Hard Feelings.

Will I join with the ocean blue
Or run into the savior true
And shake hands laughing
And walk through the night
Straight to the light
Holding the love I’ve known in my life
And no hard feelings
I have no enemies
I have no enemies
I have no enemies
I have no enemies


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