On December 6th, 2013 one of the world's largest tunnel boring machines (affectionately known as Bertha) stopped working. Her purpose was to bore out the great Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel in Seattle. She was only 1,083 feet into her 9,270 foot journey when she struck an 8 inch metal pipe casing 60 feet underground. Multiple blades were busted and the 57-foot cutter head stopped spinning as the entire project came to a screeching halt.
She was stuck. Really stuck.
Bertha would not move again for over two years as engineers and excavators worked night and day to free her from her 60 foot grave. On December 22nd, 2015 Bertha started digging again. An estimated $223 million in cost overruns were attributed to the delay.
What's done is done.
The problem with being truly stuck is that you can't back up and try again. Like a tunneling machine under the great city of Seattle, the only thing you can do is admit that your stuck (obvious but very important) and then start to explore every option that might keep you moving forward.
Two years ago I had to admit that I was stuck, and while the process of becoming un-stuck has been less than pleasurable, it was my only option. It has been costly both to me and my family, and it has been confusing to those that are closest to me. I have stayed up late into the night asking for a do-over while at the same time knowing that it would never happen. Like an overworked engineer I would constantly return to the whiteboard scrutinizing over my next option for forward progress.
A lot of people in my life don't understand what's going on, just like a lot of people don't realize that there isn't a "Reverse" option on a tunneling machine's control panel.