Friday, July 13, 2012



I started off today's post with some drivel about Friday the 13th. ProfBeej on Twitter asked a bunch of us if we were scared. I think the answer was a resounding "no."  Personally, it's my happy day. I'm out and about and rolling in Friday the 13th. Bring on them black kitties. Get some ladders for me to walk beneath. I've had enough bad luck in my life, I can probably lend a dash or two. Blah.

So, that went nowhere. 

One of the Happy Acres residents reminded me of a really ridiculous I told a bunch of the folks, back when I worked in IT, in about 1998. When this particular incident occurred, I worked on one of those huge national help desks and we did it all on that floor. There were over 100 technicians working. There were techs who supported PCs with Windows platforms, others who handled Main Frame platform calls, some who handled nothing but 2nd level escalation, techs who handled nothing but PC or Mainframe application calls. It was exciting and chaotic, during peak hours. We only handled calls that came from within our organization, thank God. When I worked at IBM, I handled IT calls for the general public for approximately 5 minutes, before I put in for a transfer to something else.

This huge telecommunications company, rhymes with "Shmerizon" had this huge open room that we all worked in. We were partitioned off, but the partitions were about 3 feet high. Picture an open market, a souk, or an agora. At any given time, "bargaining" and loud voices are liable to ensue. There may be laughter, or sudden lowering of voices and much hissing, as of several angry snakes. None of this has anything to do with call-taking or problem-solving. No, the calls are merrily piling up in the queue. This was in the days before metrics reared there ugly heads and the clients actually gave a damn about customer service. I miss those days. But I digress.

There is another phenomena that occurs at these huge help desks and it's happened at both IBM and Verizon. There is one less chair than there are bodies or cubicles. Consequently, anyone lucky enough to have a chair has printed out giant signs:

The Corporate equivalent of marking territory. Dogs peeing on trees, as it were

Which we then plaster all over our chairs with huge wads of tape that do not stick and of course, rather than print out a whole new sign, because heaven forbid, that would be too much like work, and re-tape it NEATLY, we just tape over the bitch one more time. Or better yet, print out a 4th copy of that sign and paste it to the bottom of our office chair, which is starting to resemble origami, because so much damned paper is taped to it. This has the added bonus of being really professional looking as well. IBM never gave a damn if you played hopscotch in the aisles. Just get the work done.

I went in early one day at Verizon to try and get a project done before I left on a concert tour; not many people were on the floor; it wasn't 9 am as I remember. There was a sprinkling of technicians on the floor, and one, David was on a call. David had a chair and he was guiding his customer through a password reset. I was looking at my list of to-dos or playing solitaire or answering emails, but my phone rang. I answered it. I always wore a headset at work; I love that hands free thing.

All of a sudden I hear this huge ruckus behind me. "Get! Out! Of! My! Chair!" I hear. Charles, who does not like David, is trying to get HIS chair. I hadn't noticed, but David has CHARLES' CHAIR! MINE! PRECIOUSS!!!! DO NOT TOUCH!!! DIE!!!! DIE !!!!! David is not relinquishing Charles's chair. David is hanging on for dear life. David is a hermit crab in his shell. "Get! Out! Of! My! Chair!"  Ruckus!!!  Ruckus!!! Ruckus!!! My caller asks, "what is going on there? It sounds like people having sword fights. David is STILL ON HIS CALL. Now THERE'S a trooper! And he's STILL in CHARLES' CHAIR!

To this day, I do not remember how it turned out; it must have ended peacefully. The only other claim to fame for David is he is the one Certified Microsoft Engineer at Verizon, I know who completely wiped out his hard drive. Charles ended up going to work with the Wizards downstairs in the Unix development area for the Mainframes.

I shared this story with the homeless people at Happy Acres. They loved it. They loved it so much they would act it out. They swapped the parts of David and Charles. It's surprising to me; they still ask me about the Chair story.
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