It's a quiet Monday morning as I wander into my office and make for my desk, only to discover its pristine surface has been taken over by what can only be described as a Pimply-Faced-Youth.
"Hi!", the PFY gasps ", I'm the new network trainee you organised last week"
Instead of stopping, I drop my case and about-face to the Boss's office. He informs me in no uncertain terms that the salary review he suffered after my report to the supervisor review last week has in no way contributed to what might appear to the casual observer as a vendetta. Pure coincidence.
He also informs me that the PFY is not only here to stay (at his appointment), but might even stay longer than myself. I'm to train him to the point of absolute confidence ...
Sadly, there's only room in my office for one, but that can wait.
"I've been answering the phones while you were away!", PFY cries as I return, brandishing a huge wadge of "While you were out" messages.
I decide to give every impression of complying with the boss's wishes.
"OK, file them then look at this", I say, switching on the network monitor.
"Where should I file them?"
"The filing cabinet", I say.
"But I can't see a ..."
"The round one ..."
"... on the floor ..."
"... IN THE CORNER !!"
"One was important!", he gasps.
"This is networking, they're all important. Now, it's imperative to be able to recognise important users when they phone".
"Oh. How do I do that?"
"You don't, it was a joke. This is networking, remember? They take what they get and are happy with it or they get an 'upgrade' to a 150 baud modem on an unfiltered power supply".
"How've you managed to stay here?"
"Hmm. A clever mix of superior intelligence, indispensibilty and ruthless blackmail where required. Hasn't failed me yet. Now, I'll wager my next pay cheque that 90 per cent of those complaints you took this morning were from the payments department - am I right?"
"Yes! Is their network faulty?"
"No, it's more of a protocol problem".
"What, protocol as in TCP/IP and stuff?"
"No, more like protocol as in 'When Simon asks to be reimbursed for some technical manuals, reimburse him straight away'. True, it's mostly undocumented, but around here it's pretty much a defacto standard".
"So what do we do about the errors?"
"Nothing. We mention that it's a network error we haven't seen before that's probably described in a technical manual somewhere, then we implement the 'never-fail network error resolution technique'".
"We solve all problems with a 'Router Reset'"
"I don't understand ..."
"Simplicity itself!! Someone calls up with a 'networking' problem; you go and power-cycle their router. Then you wander round their department and say that you simply had to do it because the person concerned had an urgent problem that couldn't wait. You'd be amazed at the departmental hostility you can generate in just one week. If you really want to stir things up, do it 10 minutes prior to lunchtime - no-one saves their work before then so applications hang and people lose everything".
"What happens then?"
"We're 'just doing our job', of course! But up in the departments it becomes a demilitarised zone! Things start disappearing, lunches start getting doses of cayenne pepper, then, slowly but surely, the calls stop. If someone has an outage, they won't dare call us, they call the helpdesk."
"And what do they do about the errors?"
"They write out a 'while you were out' message".
"Then they pass them on to us".
"And we ..."
"What do we do for the rest of the time?"
"Monitor how the network is REALLY working, where bottlenecks are occurring, and also plan for upgrades in the next budget round"
"Don't be stupid. You any good at Immortal Kombat?"
"Right, doubles. Winner does the next reset, loser buys the doughnuts".
It's a tough life at the top, but life is what you make it ...