It is said that there is a pattern that famous stars tend to die in threes. Whether or not this pattern is a genuine one or not, it has long been recognized that groups of threes are soothing and form memorable triads. The ancient Celts, for example, included a great deal of information organized in triads, as part of their own educational system for bards and druids. One of the most famous misremembered quotes of Sir Winston Churchill was remade into a more memorable triad from his original formulation of blood, sweat, toil, and tears. And on it goes. Even the popularity of the five paragraph essay  depends in large part on the comfort of the pattern of organizing in threes. While I do not hold dogmatically to this structure, it is one that I do adopt from time to time and find worthwhile and interesting to record. I would like to use this pattern today in examining some of the more humorous events of my workday, as is my habit from time to time .
When I arrived at work this morning, it was quickly apparent that one of my coworkers was not there. That would not normally be a big issue, except that today I ended up being asked to do something that she would have done, and she was unable to do what she was supposed to do today. It does seem that there are a great many tasks whose cadence depends on a smooth hand-off between one person and another, and when one person is gone that smoothness is replaced by a more general scrambling to get done what would have been easier to do so if everyone was there. So it was today. This has happened before in the past, and sometimes it has been my own absence that has made things more difficult for other people. So it has been, so it was today, and so it will be in the future. I do not comment on this expecting the problem to be solved, but rather instead to note on the fact that much of what we do depends far more on very limited factors of staffing than we might realize at first. When companies are lean and mean, any sort of absence becomes a serious problem.
The issues of today were made more irritating by the fact that at some point yesterday all of the automatic reports I have broke down for one reason or another. I was first aware that something in the reports was amiss when there was an e-mail chain in my inbox at my first arrival at work that stated that one of our campaigns had a new phone number, meaning some of my reports had to be changed. Along with this request came an interest in two people in being added to that particular report chain. While working on that problem I found that the person responsible for maintaining our automatic reports was gone today and would be gone for the rest of the week, making another irritating absence to deal with, forcing me to do other reports that had broken for other people on a day in which my own department was already somewhat understaffed. In addition to that I was informed that people needed to be added to another report that was broken that would be unlikely to be fixed for the rest of the week, which will likely make the rest of my week a bit more irritating than usual.
It is unclear whether my irritations amount to a rule of things happening in threes or simply represents a perfect storm of sickness and vacation, a business change that was not communicated ahead of time, and some sort of technical glitch that happened to hit when the relevant people were not there to do something about it in a timely fashion. Such events do not tend to happen in isolation. It is likely that there are a great many glitches that are stopped before anyone else notices them simply because people are being aware and at least a little bit proactive in the normal exercise of their job duties. It is also likely that a day which would have been relaxing or maybe even boring with everyone there was made stressful only because all of those things happened simultaneously. Maybe if only one or two of them had happened rather than all of them, it would have been a less annoying day. And if it were less annoying, it might not have brought to mind just how delicate matters are, and how easy it is for relatively small events to cause something to go deeply wrong. Perhaps the insight gained requires there to be sufficient frustration for it to reach the point where it is worth subjecting to critique and over-analysis. If so, then let no frustration or annoyance be wasted.
 See, for example: