Really. And I’m not even being crass! It’s not what you think.
In my old job, we had days that were considered ‘balls to the wall’. (For the benefit of my more delicate readers, I’m going to refer to it in the future as BttW!) If you are unfamiliar with the term, it refers to a pace that is full speed ahead; no holding back. And as I said, I had days that would fit that description. Other days were less urgent, and many others were busy, but not so intense.
My new job, on the other hand, is absolutely BttW every single day. From the moment that I set foot in the office until I leave for the day…which is often later than I had planned…it is crazy- nuts, beyond busy. There are deadlines and demands and disasters. No matter what your list looks like for the day, it always turns in to a marathon.
I arrive around 9AM, and the first time that I get to catch a breath is about 11. Before I know it, it is 1:00 or 2:00, and I need to take a moment to eat. It seems that I’m barely back from lunch and it’s the end of the day. There is not a moment of quiet.
I absolutely LOVE it.
It is exciting work, and I really feel like I’m accomplishing something. We interact with nearly every other department in the company, and have a pivotal role in most projects. It’s a lot of stress, but if you don’t mind that part, the payoff is incredible.
There are moments, to be sure. More than once, I’ve asked myself if this is really what I want to do. But a few minutes later, the issue has resolved itself and I am back to thinking, “Wow. This is COOL!” It’s a great feeling. Although the days are long, I love what I am doing, who I am working with, and the feeling of satisfaction that I get when we have completed a difficult task.
There is no other way to describe it than 24/7, all day, every day, BttW.
My first week there was amazingly crazy, as one of the key players in our office was off on surgical leave. It was a very busy time for the department, and my boss had just finished a monumental project for the company that had taken him away from his usual duties. On top of all of that, they had remodeled the office to accommodate the addition of my desk, and a work space for outside sales reps. Everyone had changed areas, and everything was in disarray.
Other employees would ask me how I was doing, and if I liked it. I would always respond, “This week is nuts, but I think that once it calms down…” at which point, said employee would burst into laughter.
Six weeks in, I can tell you why. It never – NEVER – calms down. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m reluctant to say that, however, as it sounds so…icky! I’ve always thought that it was a rather nasty way to say it. I would tell only my dearest friends that it was (in whispers) “BttW!”
I’ve known the term for years, but never quite understood how it had originated. I couldn’t imagine any situation in which balls would be against the wall and it would make sense, much less indicate a stressful, full-on press.
Thank heavens for the internet. I decided to look it up, just for my own curiosity. There are actually a couple of explanations as to where it came from…and I am pleased to announce that NEITHER of them have anything to do with testicles! (You thought that, too, didn’t you???!)
Urban Dictionary offers two explanations, in varying degrees of detail. The first is that it is a term used by fighter pilots, whose controls are topped by a ball. When they are going full-throttle, the balls are all of the way up against the front wall of the airplane, hence the term “balls to the wall”. The second is from the days of steam engines. Just as the fighter jets, their instruments contained balls, which, when the engine was going full throttle, were pushed up against the wall.
I can’t say if either or both of them are true, but I was quite relieved to find out that a) it made sense, and b) it didn’t refer to private bodily part. I was so thrilled, in fact, that I shared my newfound knowledge with my entire office and my family. When I mentioned that I intended to write about it here, my mother nearly died. She was mortified to think that I would say it on my blog! Even after I explained it’s origins, there was a furrow in her brow. I don’t think that she found it very ladylike to share such a term.
Old habits die hard. I’ll probably still whisper it when I tell the story, but at least now I know!