Invasion, Part One – the setting

I’ve been wanting to post about this for days, but it’s hard to know how much backstory is needed for it to make sense and I’ve been pretty low on spoons with everything that is going on. Anyway hopefully this will give enough context…

First, a bit of current event info: every two years or so, the local agency I work for undergoes a technical security audit by a state agency to make sure we are following all of the security procedures mandated in a phonebook-sized manual by a federal agency. 

Yeah, that must sound terribly vague but I am explaining it that way in the interest of keeping my job identity anonymous; I am only mentioning it at all because this is a fairly stressful event for me,  and can be sometimes followed by an on-site visit from the federal side. There are forms and a detailed network map to submit, and it involves a lot of information gathering and interacting between me and my managers.  

It was due yesterday, but I’d set a deadline of having it submitted last Friday, so that everyone could breathe a sigh of relief and go home for the weekend without stressing over it. Except that’s not what happened. The network map part of it was being worked on by someone else, and they kind of ‘overthunk’ it and made it way more detailed and complicated than it needed to be, while simultaneously missing several key pieces of information we were instructed to include, so that it wasn’t ready until right at the very end of the day… at which point I realized it wasn’t actually ready at all.

By Friday afternoons, I am usually very, very exhausted and my brain is no longer working properly, so I had to fight very hard not to have a messy meltdown on the spot and instead explain tactfully that there was no way I could make my brain work well enough to resolve the issue at that time. We agreed to pick it back up first thing Monday morning, so now (a) I’d missed my promised deadline to get it to the next person to do their part before submission and (b) I now would fret over it all weekend and (c) I felt awkward and guilty about spazzing out on someone who is in a management position over me.

The stress and drama continued yesterday, and at one point I was asked to contact the state entity to get clarification on what was needed, which I did not want to do because I try to avoid attracting attention in fear of the written audit being followed up by an onsite inspection. Also, we do this every two years, and we have the previous year’s maps which were always accepted without problems, so really, it shouldn’t be that hard?

They didn’t respond until almost the very end of the day, and when they did (at which time we’d already gotten most of the details hammered out after another inventory of server rooms) I looked at what they sent as an example and literally begain laughing hysterically. Let’s just say that what we had was the network map equivalent of a PHD dissertation, and what they would have been happy with was a one-page brochure drawn in crayon. 

Anyway, that’s done, but oh my gods it drained me. We came in right under the wire and I was in the uncomfortable position of pestering and hounding my immediate superior all day to get it finished. I didn’t even take lunch because there was no way I would rest until I knew it was safely sent. This alone would have been enough to send me home to spend a few hours curled up in a fetal position, but my day didn’t end there, because there was still an unwanted, uninvited visit from parental unit #2 hanging over my head.

I think I am going to break this up into a few parts, to keep the posts at a manageable size. Oh, and there will probably be some foul language before it’s all done. Stay tuned.

Featured Image: storm clouds on the horizon, with a power pole at the far right and a jagged-edge photo border.

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