I had an experience recently that I like to share..
It started a week ago, the last days of my honeymoon vacation, when i decided to check my email.. i found an email from my mother saying that she has a problem in her college..
my mother - motivated by me - has joined a PhD program.. she's a doctor.. currently making her PhD at the Institute of Public Health. She and my father are staying in KSA currently where she teaches in a girls college.
Her problem was that the PhD exam will take place on 24th of June 2007 in Alexandria. Her vacation at her workplace in KSA starts 27th of June 2007. she needed a paper that states the exam date to pass it to the people there so she can take her vacation earlier.. so we needed someone to go get that paper and send it.. i used to handle this kind of tasks.
it was supposed to be a 30-60 minutes thing, two hours max including the journey. so i thought of checking it right away, i have the car it would be easier for me to do. my brother would have done it. but he was at his work that day.. it was thursday.
i went, didn't find a lot of people due to the funeral of a professor there. the employee at Student Affairs told me there is no one to sign or seal it.. i can pass by on sunday, write a request, and get my paper directly.. i said OK and delegated it to my brother.
Sunday, my brother called, said he made the request and we can take the paper the next day morning. so i told it is ok, i can pass by early before work and take it.
Monday, it rained heavily.. all streets was jammed... the journey overhead would have been a disaster so i decided to postpone it..
Tuesday, i went there to find the paper ready. except that it did not specify the date of the exam explicitly.. i adjusted it in the request.. and it passed the person responsible on typing it on the computer again.. as an early person can expect, the person was there, the PC was off, and "el Dada betnaddaf"... i like that clean place!!!
i knew it had to be signed from the dean after that, sealed and so... so i told the employee that i'll go to my work.. and pass by later in the day to take it.. i was smart enough to take his mobile number so i can check that it was done before i make the journey again. time is valuable as u know!!
Tuesday Afternoon, i called the guy around 1pm. His phone what out of service. i decided to take my chances and go since i know they finish at 2 pm. His mobile was off till i reached there. the request was still in the computer personnel queue.. she was overwhelmed to add a "Date" to the paper..!!! i asked the guy there to push her.. and get done with all the singing and so.. and decided to take first thing next day..
Wednesday, i called the guy early morning before i go... it was typed but not signed yet.. the dean doesn't come at 9 am of course so i went directly to work.... in the middle of the day i tried calling but his mobile was off again... i miss the old land line!!!
he answered at 1:40 pm saying that it was done.. he took off... he won't be there tomorrow.. and that he left it with a colleague there.. and saying that i can go take it now... I have learned the lesson, i knew that i won't find the colleague by the time i reach there... interrupting work is a high overhead..
Thursday, i went before work... Luckily the colleague had arrived.. but she was not on her desk.. she appeared after 10 minutes... she gave my the paper, and asked me to have it sealed from the office next floor, then copied, the to bring her a copy... sealing went fine.. at the copying stage, as usual, the copying machine was not working, the guy there was trying with it.. adjusting the paper carrier, restarting it... another 10-15 minutes... then it was done..
the task consumed the time of about one and half working day.. was done after a week...
it is really amazing how a 2 hours estimated task can actually consume.
i had a lot of free time to think while I'm working on this... Analogies... i tried putting my self in their lazy shoes..
what if Larry was in my place and got affected and delayed because i chosed to work first on a bug that is less critical than a bug he really needs..
why do tasks tend to take so longer than they deserve?!!!
in my case... people involved didn't take it seriously enough.. they lack management.. they lack communication....
applying the same analogies... outch!!!
The morale of this story:
-Do not apply for PhD
-Do not motivate people to apply for PhD