Friday, September 15, 2006

Risk

While it doesn't really come across here, I actually do like helping people, so much so that I occasionally do something very stupid: I risk my job.

So why am I always bitching about fuckwits? Well, first of all, they're fuckwits. I tell them how to fix their problems and they ignore me. But more importantly it's an outlet. It's funny when I look back at it but it's exasperating when it happens. And I can write in an amusing manner when I'm angry about something. Also, I chose this nickname specifically to make it clear that this persona is a fucking bastard.

Does anyone really want to read my auto-hagiography? "I'm the best there is. I'm so great. I can do this and that and I work double as many tickets as my cow-orkers." Big fucking deal. I sure as hell don't want to read that garbage so why would I write it? I do re-read some of these entries later. I'm not good at writing mundane stuff, but I have no problem with that; even famous authors suck at it, too.

I like humour. Sometimes I'm pretty good at it, whether writing or telling a story. Humour doesn't come from happiness and contentment; it comes from the unexpected or the outrageous or someone else's pain. Seeing the humourous side of the worst of my job enables me to continue coming to the CubeDesk of Hate every day despite the my-head-shaped-dent in front of my keyboard slowly but steadily becoming deeper.

I really feel good when I've solved some major problem, getting some 5,000 seat customer care call center back up and running or finding a solution to make things work when by all rights they shouldn't. I don't need reminders about those. I need to know why I should continue to sit in front of a screen wasting half an hour just reading through each day's management-speak edicts before working on tickets from people who ask for help and won't take it. Or those who don't even know how to ask in the first place.

What do I feel good about? I feel real good about Joe. He's not a fuckwit, he's an admin saddled with draconian corporate policies which, despite all warnings from us not to patch Windows before patching $OurBigApp, forced the August 918899 patch onto a few thousand workstations because it was available, never mind that our patches were also "critical" had been available for a couple months but weren't installed.

Joe needed a compatibility patch badly. Unfortunately there ain't one for August. Since the entire environment was down his superiors decided that maybe Joe had been correct so they allowed him to back-patch everyone. Unfortunately that won't help because the embedded ActiveX calls still won't work.

Joe had another idea: since the machines had been patched back to the June level, he could re-apply the 919010 patch. Unfortunately it's no longer available from Microsoft. We discussed his situation for a bit and then I went home early to do something very stupid.

From my personal machines and through my private E-Mail account I sent him a copy of 919010 along with a clear disclaimer that I was doing so of my own accord and that not only did "my employer" not know what I was doing, they would not condone it and if it was discovered that I had done this it would be grounds for immediate dismissal. It could also lead to action against me by Microsoft for distributing their files. Yes, he thanked me. Quite heartily.


This was an extreme case; there have been others. In my first couple months I risked dismissal during my probationary period. It was a time where none of the German worker protections applied to me and I could be fired without cause.

Claudette had a problem with scripting. Back then it was an edict that no scripting code could ever be provided to the customers since any bug could lead to legal trouble. If we found a method which worked we could describe it in general terms but even supplying p-code was strictly forbidden.

I worked for a week on that damned script until it finally did what it was supposed to do. I had the advantage of assistance of three other experienced coders and a lot of unpublished internal references. Once I had the solution I explained it. Claudette wrote back pleading for the code. They were a month behind and had already spent weeks trying to write what I'd described.

From home that night I sent her the code along with disclaimers that were almost as long as the script itself. I felt good about myself but at the same time, knew it was risky.

I help people. It's what I get paid for. I probably go that far out of my way and literally put my job on the line once every three to six months. Because no good deed goes unpunished I expect it'll catch up with me at some point.

There. That's all the emo I can muster.

Risking my job to help some other poor schlub deal with his? Yeah, I'm a fuckwit, too.

x-posted to HuSi, where there's a poll.

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In compliance with $MegaCorp's general policies as well as my desire to
continue living under a roof and not the sky or a bus shelter, I add this:

DISCLAIMER:
The views expressed on this blog are my own and
do not necessarily reflect the views of $MegaCorp, even if every
single one of my cow-orkers who has discovered this blog agrees with me
and would also like to see the implementation of Root Cause: 17-Fuckwit.