Chopping down trees with my head

I love to learn, and I often learn best by doing, but there are cases when it’s not my favorite approach. Six weeks ago I was assigned to a project at work and given training on how to configure specific parts of the new system. Then that training sat and leaked out for the next five weeks. Last week I was finally able to start on my assigned work. It took several days to rebuild all the information I had lost.

Then I found out there was plenty more they didn’t teach me. The last three days have been spent trying to learn both a new scripting language and a new database structure with nothing more to go from than some previous scripts included in the system and a few lists of data fields. I spent around six hours yesterday trying to figure out how to get data from the system that was just one step removed from the data structures they taught me. Unless I really messed something up, the only feedback I’d get from the system was a blank field or the ever-helpful message: $value.

I’m pleased to say I succeeded.

Learning by trying everything I can think of to see if it works is slow, tedious, and frustrating. Fortunately what finally worked was at least clear enough for me to be able to know why it worked and how I can possibly make it work in other situations. But there has to be a better way. I’ve got plenty more work to do, and this is supposedly the easy stuff.

It’s like trying to learn to speak Italian when all they provide you is a list (not a dictionary) of Latin words and an Italian-speaker who won’t give you any hints, but will respond to you if you manage to construct and pronounce an entire sentence correctly.

As is often my mantra, at least I’ve got a job.

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