OT: Efficiency

I recently took a new job in Sioux City. I am the soul person in the facility. The place looks like a post apocalyptic dystopian nightmare.

At one time there were at least 4 highly skilled technicians and a manager here. Today there is me. I spend most of my time checking to see if anyone is digging close the the fiber.

I am highly trained and skilled in all forms of telecommunications repair. I never use that skill. Never.

I am paid a top union scale wage with top benifits to look at holes in the ground. The equipment is monitored at multiple network reliability centers. If something goes wrong, I get a call and am told exactly what to do.

I say this because the company can afford to put me in a large expensive truck and pay me top wages to look at holes in the ground because the fiber carries all the traffic from at least two states.

What happened to all the other jobs? Well there are more tech jobs now than there were 30 years ago. We have cell techs, Mobile Telephone Switching Techs, LAN techs, Server Center techs, and so on.

We will need people to make sure nothing bad happens. Really, we had a router tech upload a profile to a router out of sequence and shut down all air travel for an airline for a whole day. If I let my fiber get cut we could, (In theory nothing would happen, but there is a difference between theory and practice.) lose all cell service in 2 states, plus impact other things.

At some point we don’t have to work that hard, just really really carefully.

You should see what it takes to scrape up some dirt in an oil refinery.



If you want, I can recommend you some audiobooks.

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It’s an interesting evolution.
Read “Team of teams.” Gen. McChrystal may have had his personal issues but that is an amazing book regarding the balance between efficiency and resilience. It’s good to be inefficient if that enables you to survive unexpected shocks.
You are there exactly for what you said - to deal with the aftermath if something goes wrong. The routine stuff can be automated (and usually is.) But the unanticipated still needs a human. Right now the call is being made in remote network reliability centers because the problems are something they can monitor remotely. One day there will be a problem whose root cause cannot be figured out mechanistically by them, that’s when they need you the most.