My average day at Jumpsuit Commerce

It’s 6:00am. I can tell because I’m jolted from my sleep by the vibrant bugle call of Reveille playing from my iPhone. The alarm has spoken, and like a congressional filibuster, it won’t stop speaking by itself.

The problem is that the phone is across the room. Darn me!

Three S’s later and it’s 6:30am. I’d grab my backpack, but I left it at work along with my laptop. I put in an earbud, open Spotify, and start my daily 20 minute walk to work, free of physical burdens. I like the days when the only thing I need to bring to work is my brain.

It’s interesting what I see on the way. Nurses walking from public transit to work. Lawyers heading to their next appointment. Homeless people trying to head-butt passerbys. I’ve been in enough threatening situations to know I should give a wide berth to the crazy, drug-addicted people walking around Hawaii. Some people haven’t learned that yet.

I arrive at the office of Jumpsuit Commerce and the first thing I do is sit down on the most incredible couch known to man. What praises can I sing about this couch? The seat leans all the way back, cradling your body as it reclines. The padded footrest extends upwards, supporting the weight of your tired legs. It’s like sitting on a cloud.

I can’t count the times I’ve fallen asleep on this couch waiting for a migration to run or a build to compile.

For the next half hour or so I sort through my email and Slack messages. Depending on the day, it’s a mix of spam, new ideas, business opportunities, progress reports, and fires. I’d love to see an empty inbox one day, but it hasn’t happened yet. I’ll go through the non-fires and briefly skim through the fires. Most of the supposed fires tend to not be fires, and today is no exception.

Around 8:00am my co-worker Chris and I head downstairs to Brue, a great little coffee shop across the street. The baristas are friendly and the coffee is decent. Brue represents the biggest expense in my life, next to food. Worth.

It’s always fun to see what they’ll draw on my drink. I’ve gotten everything from turtles to pac-man to an eskimo. Sometimes I won’t even recognize what it is, like some kind of foamy Rorschach test.

We’re jokingly trying to get a menu item named after us, although it does get awkward when I order “the Joseph” — a large hot latte. I never liked speaking about myself in third person, and ordering myself off the menu just feels wrong. It also makes me feel like paying more for my drink, because I’m worth it!

We don’t get paid to chill at Brue, so after an hour of playing mobile games and shooting the breeze, we head back up to the office to start the day. I spend my morning planning, grabbing small issues, coordinating with vendors, and reviewing PRs. I’ll also have various meetings throughout the morning: strategizing with the CEO, communicating with vendors to move things along, 1:1’s with the engineering team, etc.

1:1’s are my favorite. They give me a chance to learn more about my teammates — how they’re doing, what they’re interested in, how they think we’re doing, etc. It acts as a great way to help guide the team and also helps bubble up any potential issues.

Sometimes if I don’t have many meetings scheduled I’ll get to code, although I haven’t placed myself on the critical path of our projects in a while now. I’ve mostly been working on isolated issues such as feature polish, bug fixes, DevOps, or production support. I just don’t have the uninterrupted time anymore to really sit down and churn out a feature. I leave that to the team, and try to isolate them from the multitude of interruptions that come our way.

12:00pm — hunger sets it. Sorry, that’s a lie. Hunger actually set in an hour ago, but I wait until noon to go to lunch. I see more people that way, and I’m a sucker for people watching. My third cup of coffee for the day has kept me satiated up till now, but now I need to move on to heavier stuff.

I really should bring a lunch — buying lunch every day is expensive, and in Hawaii’s tech economy, I don’t get paid enough to support this habit. That’s a plan to be executed another day, though. Today, I feast!

There’s a lot of fantastic places to eat in Downtown. Boa Sushi Cafe, Art’s Hideaway, Marukame Udon, Nana’s Deli, Donor Shack, Ma ma ya’s, Taco Cabana — the list goes on. Any one of them is a great meal.

A short walk later and we’re back at the office. Kelvin, another one of our senior engineers, is already in the conference room for our lunchtime meeting. I bring my laptop in, close the blinds, and shut the door. The TV yells out “you are being watched” as the opening monologue Person of Interest starts playing. Chris and Kelvin are hooked. I’ve seen the series before, but thanks to the power of Netflix I can share the experience again.

The next couple of hours after lunch are usually relatively quiet and productive. I get to work on smaller issues and help out with any blockers. It’s a good time to sync up with Bin, one of our senior engineers, on his projects. A quick check-up to ensure everything is going well, and it’s back to coding, designing, or planning. Coffee number four has already been made.

If it’s a Monday or a Thursday, 3:00pm is a time for pain and suffering in the form of our company’s exercise days. It’s an intense and grueling 30–45 minutes of randomly selected exercises. Sometimes we switch it up, like letting someone pick the number of reps and someone else pick the exercise. Most days we cry on the inside.

I’m happy to say that we’ve gotten much better over time. We regularly crank out exercises today that made us feel like collapsing a just a few short months ago.

Code gets reviewed and pull requests get closed at around 4:00pm. We usually do a deploy around this time with the day’s features and fixes. We run any scheduled migrations, confident that anyone who is actually relying on the system is asleep.

6:00pm. The office is quiet. The janitors have already come and gone. Sometimes Kelvin will still be in his office cranking out features; other times I’m alone. My backside hurts from sitting on the couch all day — one of the pitfalls of such luxurious comfort. The darkening sky signals that it is time for me to leave for the day.

On my walk home, it’s hard to shake the feeling that I’m not being productive with my time. I think to myself that I can work more efficiently or more effectively.

I have to remind myself that if my team is productive, that means I’m productive. I’m no longer just an individual contributor (although I still write my fair share of code) but rather a team lead. I can multiply the effectiveness of my team at the cost of decreasing my own individual effectiveness. Besides, I’m still working on the smaller, less important issues — sweeping the floor so that my team can work on the more important things.

By the time I go to bed, I’m already looking forward to the next Reveille.

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