Maurice Cronin

Maurice Cronin

DevOps Engineer

Everything Is Fine (Probably)

October 19, 2022

I’d like to tell you about a bad feeling I get sometimes. 

It “puts the heart sideways in me” as we say here in Cork… you know, that awful feeling of instant panic and dreadful confusion, when we think something terrible has gone wrong and we’re trying to figure out what and how?

It always starts the same way. I log into the company’s AWS console, navigate to a service - maybe CloudFormation or DynamoDB. 

At this stage, I’m feeling casual. I’m free and easy. This is my job and it’s no big deal. Maybe I’m whistling, at least metaphorically. 

No matter how many times it happens, I’m never expecting it.

Everything is blank.

There are no stacks. No dbs. Nothing that I expect to see is actually there.

My heart, as I’ve said, gets put sideways in me. The BPM ratchets up. Sweat pops on my forehead.

Oh sweet Jesus. It’s end times! EVERYTHING IS GONE! How could this have happened?

Then my eye is drawn to the top corner of the screen, to the AWS region: “us-east-1”.

That’s when I remember - before I finished up last night, I switched region for some silly reason.

I switch back to “eu-west-1” - or HOME as I like to think of it.

Services populate. The world order is restored. Panic subsides.

I chuckle a relieved chuckle to myself.

I wish I could make it so the AWS console defaulted to a specific region whenever you log in, but that’s probably not going to happen.

So instead, I’ve been working on controlling what I can control: my response to the situation. 

I am trying to panic less. I try to take a moment (or three). I look around. I avoid knee-jerk reactions. I verify the problem is real before hitting any buttons.

Odds are, things are usually not as bad as they first seem.

In fact, usually, everything is fine. Probably.

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