Squeaky doors

I work (remotely) with a senior development manager. His office door squeaks.

I know that he’s been in that office for several years, yet every time we have a video conference — multiple times each week — I’m greeted by a series of loud creaks as each physical participant enters the room.

I’m pretty sure he no longer notices the squeaky office door; perhaps it’s even a charming, reassuring quirk of his environment. Maybe he jokes “oh yes, you get used to it”, or “haha, one day I’ll bring in some oil”.

I notice the squeaky door. In fact, I’m a little surprised that anyone could ignore it for so long.

The squeaky door is, of course, a parable about bad tools or environments. (It’s also absolutely real: if I wasn’t a thousand miles away, I would have oiled that door a long time ago!)

When I moved into my shared office as a new PhD student, many years ago, the door squeaked. When I went to get coffee it would squeak. Running down the hall for a printout? Squeak, squeak. The very next day I brought in a small bottle of oil, and two minutes later the door was swinging silently.

It pays dividends to spend a little time working on removing the frictions we encounter every day: from oiling hinges, to moving furniture, all the way to switching build tools or deciding to work remotely. (I’d call a frustrating commute a big friction!)