Monday, January 18, 2010

The Big Move

ACL finally moved into their new headquarters nearly a year after the original move date of February 2009. When that date was first announced, I thought that they were being wildly optimistic. After all, my neighbors went without a kitchen for six months because of delays with contractors and inspectors.

ACL had purchased a building that was just a shell. There was nothing inside except the floors. They closed on it in June 2008, expecting to move in less than a year. Instead, the entire process from architects to CO took 18 months.

I had no idea what was involved in moving a company. The infrastructure alone was mindboggling. The floor under the data center had to be reinforced. The original floor would never have been able to support the weight of our equipment. To get the air conditioning units into the data center, windows and a wall had to be removed from the building. The three units were then hoisted up to the second floor, where the data center is located.

Since ACL is a shipping company, the lobbies on the second and third floors in front of the elevator are built to resemble the interior of a ship. The structural support column in the middle of the lunchroom is disguised as a propeller. The elevator itself is small, so the propeller had to be brought in in pieces.

My own involvement with The Big Move started last week, as we began packing up the data center. It took me three nights to pack more than 1,400 tapes. Backup schedules were adjusted as non-essential servers where shut down ahead of time and email was switched to our Disaster Recovery data center in Europe.

Friday, I was in the office early as employees were sent home and the process of backing up the remaining servers and then removing them began. The data center was chaos as the movers removed and packed the servers that had been shut down earlier in the week. I shut down each remaining server as its backup finished. Then the movers took them out of the racks and packed them. My coworkers had spent the afternoon breaking down users’ workstations to be packed and moved. When they finished with those, they too moved into the data center and began breaking down all the cabling and powerstrips.

Then suddenly it was quiet. The movers had made their last run of the night. My coworkers had all gone to the new building. I stayed behind to lock up. I checked all the nooks and crannies, looking for anything that had been overlooked. Everything I found, I packed in the crates that would be moved on Saturday. Then I checked all of the crates, labeling any that were missing their location labels. I was home before 10 pm, earlier than usual, but I was exhausted.

Saturday and Sunday were a blur. I was surprised to learn that it is still dark at 7 am. I’m not accustomed to waking up in the dark. I was even more surprised that I was able to get up at that hour, which is normally the middle of the night for me. I made it into the office before 9 am each day, earlier than I normally wake up.

I now understand why people complain about fumes that are given off by new carpets and furniture. My nose ran and my eyes burned all day Saturday. By Sunday, I was feeling better probably because the outside doors had been open for the movers on Friday and Saturday allowing the fumes to escape and fresh air to come in.

We spent hours hooking up user workstations, installing printers and faxes and of course I had to unpack and rack those tapes. Fax lines had to be tested. Printers which were moved empty had to be filled with paper. While the drones were busy readying the users, the managers were working to bring the network back to life. By Sunday night, almost everything was back to normal and I was monitoring backups once more.

I was glad that I had the foresight to ask my friend from whom I had adopted Bandit to catsit for me. She came by once a day to feed the Fur Patrol and scoop their litterboxes. I was so exhausted Saturday and Sunday nights that I drove home like a drunk driver, weaving all over the road. Once home, I had to force myself to eat something before falling into bed.

For once in my life, I’m glad I don’t work the dayshift. I admire my coworkers who had to be in the office first thing this morning, fixing glitches and helping users. I was able to catch up on my sleep. By the time I came into the office at my usual 4 pm, almost all of the problems had been solved.

My commuting time is about the same but I’m not happy about the location of the new office. Of all the towns in New Jersey, they had to pick Westfield. I lived there while I was married. A lot of very bad things happened to me there. I left fifteen years ago intending never to go back. And now I have to go back. Every day.

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