Work: “Okay, Let’s Build A Filter”

This article is written by EH at @happyops.

The movie ‘Apollo 13’ was made in 1995 and depicts the failed space mission that took place in 1970. The movie had a big line-up including Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon.

There is a moment in the movie where they need to fix the air filter system to avoid carbon dioxide poisoning. Due to the limited resources available on the space craft this fix can only use a collection of nick-nacks that are available on-board.

Personally speaking, this is my approach to the technical problems that I solve as part of my job, as well as problems in general. “Okay, let’s build a filter”. In other words, just get the problem solved, even if there are just a collection of nick-nacks on a table to solve it.


I previously wrote an article about my decision to hand-in notice at my previous job and about my first month away from the workplace.

In this article I describe what happened in my second month free from work. There were problems at work and I thought that with the right nick-nacks they could be worked out. Walking away from the job seemed like admitting defeat and failing to solve the problem.

On reflection I don’t think that the problems in the workplace could be solved. Some of the technology was planned to change and that would have helped. Some big sales might have come through and that would have made for a more relaxed atmosphere. But the issue was that when I raised a question with my boss over a duration of 9 months the answer was always ‘no’. Whether it was for a slight pay increase, flexibility to occasionally work from home, or to handover some responsibilities because my responsibilities had increased so much. It felt like having a debate where I always lost and my opinion was dismissed by my boss. In other words, I could not just get the problem solved.

It is only now after two months that I really appreciate that I would not have won any debate with my boss. I don’t know whether I thought this problem just needed to right nick-nacks to solve it; whether I just desperately wanted it to work out; or whether I was seeking some sort of approval from my boss. Either way, I do not think that I could be happy in that workplace, primarily because of my boss. It is not until two months after leaving the company that I appreciate how unhappy I was in that workplace. Even though leaving the company felt like failure, I now feel happier that I am free from the company, the boss, and the work. Some days I walk down the street and feel almost euphoric because I do not need to face the company, the boss, and the work.

Having space away from work has also meant that I have more time to take an objective view of where my life is heading. Just having the space to reflect without the daily rush to work and home again allows for an objective viewpoint. From that viewpoint I look forward to exploring new opportunities.

Wishing you every happiness, EH.