Serial Whiner Alert!

Year 1999 - Episode 20


"Well, I don't know about YOU," the PFY comments smugly, as he returns to the office reasonably late in the afternoon, "but I've done a very profitable day's work!"

"So have I. Look, a prerelease of Quake III in full operational mode, even though my graphics card isn't supported on that platform!"

The sadness of what I have said stops me in my tracks and reminds me of the furry-toothed geeks who tell computing war stories up at the bar at conferences...I make a mental note to book myself in for some electro-convulsive therapy at a progressive club that I have occasion to visit when the mood grabs me.

"Anyway," I resume, "what are you crowing about?"

"I," the PFY chirps, swaggering like Paul Gascoigne exiting a late-night drinker, "have just recabled an entire floor's worth of machine-to-wall socket patch cables."

"Why?" I ask, innocently, already guessing the answer.

"Perhaps..." he responds, pausing for dramatic effect, "...it's because THESE cables aren't anywhere near Cat-5 spec."

He holds out some patch cables that, I have to admit, I DID get for a suspiciously low price many moons ago...

"Very proactive of you," I counter, admitting defeat on this occasion. "Just tell me it wasn't the third floor."

"Why? They're the ones who complained about the network problems in the first place."

Experience, as they say, is the best teacher, even if the tuition fees are rather high at times. He is young, but he will learn.

"Did you replace Maureen's cable?" I ask.

"Of course."

"Maureen, the serial whiner?"

"You're jok..."

The PFY's response is interrupted by the phone.

"That'll be Maureen," I say "You've broken all the programs on her computer."

"No I haven't!"

"�10 says you have."

"You're on," he replies, confidently.

"You've broken all the programs on my computer!" she whines, over hands-free.

I grab the tenner from the PFY, trying not to look smug.

"I only replaced your networking cable," the PFY replies.

"It must have broken my programs," she replies "They were working all right this morning."

"What's not working?" the PFY asks.

"All my programs. The machine won't let me in!"

"Have you got your screensaver password correct?"

"Yes."

"And the CAPS LOCK light isn't on?"

"N...yes. But it's always on!" she lies.

"Try pressing the caps lock key to turn it off, then try again."

"It's not going to work...Oh, the machine's fixed now"

"Now that your CAPS LOCK light is off?"

"Yes, but I gave the wire a wiggle before I tried again. It's probably the wire..."

She rings off and the PFY hangs up, shaking his head.

"Double or quits she rings back within 10 minutes?"

"OK!"

Ten minutes and another ~10 later, the PFY is trying to help Maureen understand why the new cable could not have deleted all the files she was working on this morning. Another 10 minutes and ~20 after that, the PFY is explaining to Maureen that a new cable can't break her e-mail, and the reason she has no e-mail is because no one's sending her any. The PFY promises to send her a test message.

Five minutes and ~40 later the PFY says he's not playing double or quits any more, and is explaining that HE misspelled 'verification', and that it's not the cable introducing spelling mistakes into the network traffic.

"What the hell am I going to do?" the PFY asks, after the new boss comes in (very harassed) to ask what the hell the PFY has done to this woman's machine.

"What is your sin?" I ask.

"NOTHING! I just replaced her cable! If I'd known, I would've avoided her like the plague!"

"She'd have noticed that everyone else's machines have fewer problems than hers -- now that they have new cables..."

"Well how do we fix her problem?" the PFY pleads.

"We don't," I say, picking up the phone, "We relocate it."

I call the boss back in and tell him that we've just found out that some of the cables were faulty. Being green and keen, he offers to take her up a new one. The poor bastard. Later, as the PFY and I are leaving, we hear the boss helping Maureen through her caps lock login dilemma again...

"I s'pose I owe you a pint then?" the PFY asks.

"MANY pints!"

Experience -- a great teacher, but the tutition fees...