Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sysadmin Day - 7/31/09

(Disclaimer: Although inspired in part by true incidents, the details of the following rant are fictional and do not depict any actual persons or events. The readers of this blog are, of course, above all this behavior and fully appreciative of the geeks in their life and already have Sysadmin Day marked prominently on their calendars.)

One of the more soul-crushing moments in my life is when my computer at work has a blue screen (BSOD) and kindly displayed on the screen is white font on a cobalt blue background advising me that I should contact my system administrator. It's soul-crushing because that sysadmin is me.

For most people, that is when you call your helpdesk, or yell over the cube wall, or have someone put in a ticket for you, or grumble and cuss in all your passive aggressive glory hoping that your resident geek overhears you and comes running. When it's me, I hope and pray to the patron saint of lost causes (Saint Jude) that I can get back up and running before you download a new free game and get a virus, or decide to uninstall a program that you think is not vital, or just plain get cursed by failing hardware that makes your computer nothing more than a paperweight (or a hockey puck if you're in Canada.)

When nothing is broken, we are ignored and taken for granted. We get forgotten for lunch plans, ignored for Happy Hours, and miss the Friday donuts because we don't go to your meetings.

When your computer breaks you ask us what is wrong and how long it will take to fix it before we can even get to the keyboard. You don't thank us when we pull a miracle out of thin air because "that's your job." You're too busy to hand over the computer when there might be a virus on it because your work is important and ours is just an intrusion. You feel a need to complain for 20 minutes about the problem before you even let us within 6 feet of your computer. You think we know how to run the software we bought at your request and expect us to teach you how to use it. You look at us with dismay when we don't think that running the copy of Office you got on your trip to China is a good money-saving idea. You forget to mention all the details of how calamity befell your computer because admitting you were looking at naughty things on the internet would be embarrassing for you. You wonder why we don't want to buy you every new geek toy in the book when you can barely operate a princess rotary phone. You scoff when we don't want to throw money at a problem that is caused by nothing other than the interface between the seat and the keyboard. You have the audacity to ask us to "lay hands" on your computer and fix it with our mere presence as if years of experience, research, and training have nothing to do with the fact that we can solve problems that make you and your framed PhD cower in fear for the future of all the data that you were too busy to back up. You think that the computer you use at work is your personal property and wonder why we won't salvage your iTunes downloads and family photos from the Bahamas when your hard drive failed.

There is a day for recognizing the geek in your life. This year it falls on July 31st. For one day, go out of your way to thank the guy down the street who removed all the viruses when your anti-virus software lapsed and your computer got cooties. Cook him dinner even though he didn't fix anything that day. Stop by your helpdesk's office to say thank you even if they didn't hear from you that day. Bring them their own box of donuts. Better yet, bring caffeine. If you blog and someone else fixes it when you blow up the HTML, let them know that you couldn't do it with out them, or you could but it would be butt ugly. If all else fails, send thinkgeek gift certificates.

For one day, on 7/31, please show your favorite geeks a little extra love. You have no idea how far it will get you the next time there are flames leaping out of your computer.

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