Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Something For The Weekend 

A lot of our customers don’t employ dedicated IT staff, such is their size. The task of looking after computer systems at a small firm is often given to whoever looks like they might know what to do, or at least has a teenager they can turn to for help. The job usually falls to somebody in the accounts department.
Sometimes the accountant/IT person is glad of the opportunity to expand their skills and takes to the role like a fish to water.
In other instances, a previously contented employee is transformed into a gibbering wreck, spending their days in a state of barely concealed terror. They will do everything they can to avoid having to think about computers, let alone get their hands dirty at the system console.

This morning I was speaking to someone from the latter camp. His server had seized up and I couldn’t access the system remotely. I could either talk him through manually checking for and killing off offending processes, or we could just reboot. A copout, I know, but the quickest route to get the guy back into his comfort zone: users off his back and him hiding in the toilets with a copy of ‘Which Abacus?’

“When you get to the computer room call me back on this number and I’ll talk you through everything step by step. Yes, I’ll keep this line clear. Yes, I promise.”

When my phone rang a moment later, it wasn’t Nervous IT Guy, but none other than Dave, my imaginary music publisher.
“Hey Tim. I can’t talk for long. I’m at a really wild party.”
In the background I could hear a horse drawn carriage crunching across a gravel drive.
“Dave, you’ve got the sound effects CD on the wrong track.”
“Whoops, so I have. Ack, ack, ack! How’s that now?”
“Much better.”
“Now then Tim. I’ve had Robin Williams’ people on the blower.”
“Do you mean Robbie Williams?”
“Yes, that’s what I said. He’s looking for something with a bit of a Bacharach swing. Bert’s not available, and Neil Hannon is busy promoting his new album. So I suggested you.”
“Cheers Dave.”
“So what do you think?”
“Well, apart from the fact that this conversation isn’t actually happening, it sounds great. I’m away on a seminar for the next two days, but I’ll try to come up with something over the weekend.”
“Something for the weekend?”
“No. That’s already been done. Look, I’ve got to go, Dave. I’ll speak to you on Monday.”

As I put the phone down, Neil my team leader walked out of his office, dressed up as a member of Slipknot.
“Who was that?” he asked.
“Oh, nobody.”

Nervous IT Guy was fine, by the way. He got lost searching for the computer room, and when he eventually did call me back, the system had already righted itself. It’s often the way.

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