Friday, February 22, 2013

Maintainance Rituals: My Life as a Techpriest Engineseer

I'm a gamer, and I think that's perfectly clear at this point. The nerdy kind - I enjoy all sorts of roleplaying games. I like to make believe.
REAL handpriests use skullcandy
headphones for one thing
and Turtle Beaches for another thing.
One of the tabletop games I like to play is Warhammer 40,000, a space-fantasy (nothing science about it) game with an exceptionally gritty feel. The human factions all universally have forgotten how to construct and operate most of their technology in practical terms, and the art of constructing and maintaining everything from firearms to tanks and computer archives has fallen to the Techpriests and their Engineseers, a secretive bunch of pseudo-mystics who treat machinery as divine relics and have developed complex rites for everything from starting up an engine to rebuilding a machine.

I bring this all up because I mentioned earlier today the concept of a maintenance ritual, which is something I've been thinking about for a while now. We all get set in our ways and do things by rote, but nobody actually sits down and thinks about why that rote is that rote.

Except Ziggy. Ziggy doesn't need
to eat bugs. In fact, she shouldn't.
I do. I was thinking about it today while I was wondering why I do bug care at work first. It's become a part of my job - originally work that I created for myself one lazy Sunday afternoon - which only I seem to be able to do, or willing to do. Thing is, reptiles need to eat. They eat bugs, and for the most part, you get those bugs from the same place you got the reptile - we get them from our breeders, and you get them from us. It's a time-honoured tradition for doing business.

Thing is, bugs are alive. They need to be cared for - after all, nothing lives in captivity without the care of the captor. We need live bugs, because most reptiles demand it. And someone has to care for those bugs. It's not hard. Time consuming, certainly, but not hard.

The thing is, it takes about a half an hour to get all of the bug care work done, as long as I'm not interrupted. And I noticed recently that my schedule allows a half-hour overlap between my shift and the shift I relieve... which means that I can do the work in that half hour without interrupting the traffic flow.

But  there's another aspect to this Work Ritual idea, and that's the Ritual part. Rituals are what they are, because of the way we do them. It's something standardized to the point that it can be learned, and performed by rote over and over again without any real need to consult a written directive - obviously, some Rituals have become complex enough over time that references are still necessary, but in general, they're all memorable.

The idea of a work ritual, then, would be to standardize it. After all, we learn fairly early on in life to wash ourselves so well that we can do it half-asleep and barely-aware.

I'm still trying to figure out just how to do it beyond to-do lists. A next level, if you will.

Maybe I'm just going crazy.

No comments:

Post a Comment