The Bastard Operator From Hell is back...

Year 1995 - Episode 1


So I'm in my office again, reconfiguring the router when the phone rings. Somehow I knew this was going to happen. I'm obviously going to have to change my number (and Operator) YET AGAIN.

I pick it up.

"Start talking."

"Is this the network engineer?"

Sigh.

"Yes it is," I say, resigned to my fate.

I check the phone - there's no corresponding name on caller ID, which can only mean one thing.

"You're new here aren't you?" I ask.

"Yeah, how did you know?"

"Lucky guess. Tell me, how did you get my number?"

"Oh, I just called the helpdesk."

How helpful of them..

"Anyway, I was just ringing to tell you that you've got a problem with the network."

"No," I answer, "no problems here."

"You do have a problem - I can't get my PC to work."

"Let's just look at this logically," I say. "You can't get your PC to work, so I have a problem."

"With the network, yes. It's probably a loose connector somewhere."

Of all the things that REALLY piss me off, the 'loose connector' and 'loose wire' theories TOP the queue. He obviously thinks that my day consists of sitting in a comms room somewhere 'wiggling loose wires' to improve network services. Or that I designed the network by calling up a cable supplier and ordering several drums of CAT-5 and asking for it to be "scattered about the building in a spider web shape".

Next thing I know he'll be telling me that maybe one of the 'bulbs' burnt out on my FDDI ring.

"Hey, maybe one of the bulbs.."

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

"No, it's not that! You've kicked out your patch cable," I say.

"I can't have!" he backpeddles.

"You've kicked out your patch cable."

"No, all the wires are securely plugged into the back of my PC..."

"You've kicked out your patch cable."

"...and they all go to the box in the flo.. Oh, hey! I kicked out the patch cable!"

"Of course you did. It happens all the time. It's because the twisted pairs in your cable get tangled, shortening the effective length of the cable. It's just like the telephone cord when it gets tangled."

"Oh right! I think I read something about that.." he burbles. What a plonker.

"Is there anything I can do to stop it?"

"Well, all you need to do is unplug it from the floor socket and give the cable a really really hard yank. Then all the twisted pairs come into line."

"But won't that damage my machine?"

"Heck no! The connector at the other end is made to pop out when the strain might damage the cable!"

"OK, here goes..."

CRASH!!

"HEY! I PULLED MY MACHINE ONTO THE FLOOR AND A BOARD'S RIPPED OUT OF THE BACK OF IT!"

"Oh well, you obviously pulled too hard," I say calmly.

"WHAT AM I GOING TO DO? IT'S MY FIRST DAY!"

"I don't know," I reply. "It sounds to me like a hardware problem. I'm just a network engineer.."

"But..."

I hang up. It's time to have stern words with the helpdesk. First step, into the comms room to 'wiggle their wires around' and drop out their network. Step two, set their call-forwarding so all their calls go through to the boss.

I pick a floor at random and remote boot both the main and redundant routers.

REQUEST LINES ARE NOW OPEN!

Scant seconds later I hear the boss's phone ringing. I'll give the boss about 10 minutes of irate users, then wander round and suggest the helpdesk staff need a lesson on what's funny and what's not. Forwarding your phone to the boss at network failure ISN'T funny. Helpdesk personnel investigating the job market IS.

My thoughts are interrupted by a call on the Red 'Bat' Phone. It's obviously the boss.

"Is this the network engineer?"

"It certainly is, how can I be of help?" I crawl.

"Ah, you've got a problem with your network."

"Have we?" (grease grease).

"Yeah, I guess it's probably a loose wire somewhere.."

Sigh.

He'll have to go..