Novell logons, calling India, & lots of deep breaths: an IT story.

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h/t to

Here’s the thing about being a contractor — in some ways it’s great. In others… I’m kind of at the whim of the fact that I’m not a permanent employee.

One aspect of this is my IT access. For the first nine months here at Museum!Co, every time we renewed my contract, we also had to renew my security & IT access, at which point the IT access would inevitably lapse even though we’d done the paperwork, & I’d end up spending half an hour to an hour on the phone with IT, explaining that yes, I really do work here & it would be great if I could access…anything.

The highlight of this process was hands down the day they tried to email me the new password for my computer.

The email I couldn’t log in to.

Because my password didn’t work anymore.

Because IT had shut it off.

It was hearing that story that, upon the renewal of my contract for the new fiscal year, CaptJack had my access extended for a full year so that, theoretically, we’d have a full 12 months of me not having to dial 1*99.

You can see where this is going, fellow miscreants? I’ll bet you do. Read on, my friends. Read the emm-eff on.

Recently at Museum!Co, they moved me out to a cubicle of my very own. This new location is…forty feet from my old location. Sitting at my present chair, I can actually look left and see my old location.

Forty. Feet.
^ keep this in mind.

Now, because of the way things work in their IT system, I can’t just pick up my laptop & put it in the dock at the new cubicle. No no — we fill out a form to request an IT person come over & physically move my laptop, screen & keyboard (forty feet), set everything up, & then authorize my computer to be able to access the network/internet from that particular port at that particular station.

So we filled out the form on Thursday, & on Monday… ta-da! There was ITGuy, moving things around when I got in that morning. He was actually shifting around the contents of three cubicles at once, so when he walked away to fix the other two, I just went ahead & hooked the system up myself.
(It’s not like I could do anything else, I figured why not.)

ITGuy came back, hooked up my port for access, and sha-bam! said the lady@NathanFillion I was good to go. Everyone had said it would be a big pain, I don’t know what they were so worried about — that was actually really easy.

I should have known.

Flip the page to Wednesday morning, where I sit down at my computer & go to log in only to discover… it won’t let me. Wait, what? It’s been two days since I moved, I don’t know why there’s a problem now…

Bracing for impact, I call the IT line.

Rent Games for $8.99!

Into the breach…

Now, I’ve never been to India, but like many Americans, I’ve got a fair amount of experience calling India.

It is from this experience that I suspect should I ever actually be cool enough to go on one of the retreats that Christian runs every two years, the first three days of my two week stay will involve me repressing the urge to answer every question with, “Last name ‘Hunter’, h-u-n-t-e-r, first name Claris. My ID number is…”

… somehow, I just don’t think that the local merchants would appreciate that.

But hey – my potential inability to avoid international incident aside, let’s mosey back to the situation at hand.

Having gone through the required details, we discover that for some wacky awesome reason, my user login had become disassociated from my computer.

Why did this happen two days after my workstation was moved? For that I can only offer a lesson from Shakespeare In Love: It’s a mystery.

We get to the end of the call, & the guy says, “May I have your employee number?”

For those who haven’t worked with outsourced tech support, this is done for a reason. Any time you call one of those lines, the company charges your employer per request ticket, whether it be email, over the phone, whatever. When my sister worked as a subcontractor for the help desk supporting Fidelity, they charged $125 per ticket. Yes, for real. And this meant anything – if they talked to you, the company is charged. So the day that my sister got a request message over the in-house system that simply said, “The shredder is full, please come empty it” — yup, that cost Fidelity $125.
For the record, my sister was kind enough to notify Operations.

Kinda puts non-bank ATM fees into perspective, eh?

The things is, I’m a contractor. I don’t have an employee number. Usually, that question gets asked at the beginning of each call & I have stop, go get a colleague & have them pretend to be my supervisor & give their employee number. Now, I have my boss’ actual employee number, as he got tired of us being forced to jump through these hoops & just gave it to me to use, but I didn’t think now would be the best time to hit that note, since:

  1. he was on the East Coast that particular day
  2. I’m pretty sure that as soon as they ran that ID, they’d figure out real quick I’m not someone named Jack.

Lesson to be learned from the list above: It’s the little details that kill a plan, people — never forget that.

Not in the mood to run around & find a willing employee ID co-worker, I said, “I’m a contractor, I don’t have an employee number.”

Problem is, the guy’s stuck. On the one hand, he should make me go get someone. On the other, he should have made me do that before he did anything, never mind actually solving my problem. His quandry — pretend like nothing’s happened, or ‘fess up to his own omission & make me go get the info.

So I waited, breath fully bated to see if he would let this one slide.

And he did.

Score! Got my ticket number for reference, carried on with my day, IT gods in their kingdom, all right in my internet world.

Then we got to Thursday. Oh, Thursday.

#1 In Identity Theft Protection

…because it can always get better.

Tuesdays & Thursdays involve me taking care of an admin function for the department — basically, it’s the majority of the reason my contract keeps getting renewed.
besides, you know, my sparkling personality. :bats eyelashes, polishes halo:

I sit down on Thursday, ready to go. I’ve got my iPod charged, Second Breakfast at the ready, rarin’ to get down with my Productive Member of Society guise. It is all good.

…and then my computer won’t let me log on to the network.

eeeuuuuhhhhhh… :squinchyface:headdesk:

To be fair, this is different than yesterday. Yesterday, I couldn’t get on the computer at all. Today, I can log into my computer, I just can’t connect to the network, or the internet, or access the email system.

For those of you new to my world, I work in the Web department. You know, on the internet — where the crazy lives.

The upshot being that there I am, dialing me some 1*99. Again.

So there I am, spelling my last name. Again. This time however, I had yesterday’s ticket number…

…which, according to the guy on the phone, does not exist.

I’m sorry, what? No dude, I have a ticket number. It’s right here, the guy gave it to me yesterday.

Yeah no… it doesn’t exist.

< Scooby-Doo> Ba-roooo? < /Scooby-Doo>

While no one on their end of the line would ever admit it to me, I’m going to draw upon my time working help desk & suggest that possibly, just maybe Mr. Forgot to Get an Employee Number from yesterday let that question slide because he didn’t save my tech ticket, thus saving himself from having to answer why there was a ticket without an attributable number. I had a ticket number & thus thought I was cool, he figured the problem was solved, so hey – no harm, no foul.

Unfortunately, what this resulted in was that there was no frame of reference for the guy I was on the phone with now, so I got to re-explain the process of moving & login issue. Awesome-sauce, dude. Completely Motts.

However, today’s voice on the line, whom I shall call 2nd IT Guy, was smarter than Yesterday’s Guy. 2nd IT Guy asked for the employee # ahead of time, so I had to go hunt down a co-worker & do the thing with the thing & the yeah, because hullo, CaptJack still on East Coast & me with the Not-A-Guy Voice.

We get that settled, 2nd IT Guy & I try a couple things, and discover that’s a negative Ghostrider – the pattern, she be chock-a-block full. At this point, there was only one thing to be done:

I needed a real person.


The wait on a tech can be up to 24 hours. 2nd IT Guy inquired, “would you classify this as an urgent issue?”

At this point, I’m still trying to be like, patient, and an adult, and embracing my yoga practice & sh*t, so I take a deep breath and very calmly reply, “Well, I work as a contractor in the web department, so for the amount of time that my computer doesn’t let me go online, Museum!Co is paying an hourly fee for me to sit in a cubicle and do nothing while I wait for you. I think they might view that as an urgent issue, yes.”

Next up – the TK-421 moment :
What is the location/space number of my workstation?

I… I honestly have no idea. Seriously, I was at the spare desk in someone else’s office for the last eleven months, and I just moved three days ago. Much like a four year old walking home from the corner store, I can get here, but I can’t necessarily tell you how to get here.
in the process of this, the New Hampshire girl in me can only think that this is the corporate version of, “Dude, just turn right three miles after you pass where the barn burned down two years ago, it’s not hard.”

Step 1: encounter problem.

Step 2: apply yoga breath.

Step 3: attempt solution.
“Okay, so we know that my computer number is 1*878. Shouldn’t it say that machine’s location as part of the asset tracking system?”
I know it does, because that’s part of why you have an asset tracking system – to track your f*cking assets.

Contrary to my understanding of such things, it would seem that they do not have that ability, and could I please supply my location?

After a minute or two of hunting around, I discover that hey, our locations are in teeny print at the bottom of everyone’s nametags on their cube wall. (except me, because I’m a contractor & don’t have a name. My tag is blank. I kinda like that — it makes me mysterious, and harder to find, & thus less able to assign work to. Score!)

I am assured that this will be marked as an “urgent” request, given my ticket number, and we both hang up the phone, leaving me able to do…

…absolutely nothing.

Hey – remember that admin function that I have to do every Tues & Thurs?

Yah. It still needs to get done.

That in mind, I get up, walk across the office, & say hi to Polgara, who through process of elimination caused by vacations & maternity leave, is the other remaining programmer in the office & has enough work for three people at the moment. She’s also the other person on the push list actually in the office.

Since I’m down for the count, guess who gets to do my job until IT shows up.

Sorry dude.

To her credit, Polgara’s reaction was rather low-key given the situation (no, not really) and she showed great patience with the limitations of our IT process. (so totally not.)
I now have the theory that part of the reason so much IT is being sourced to India is that it’s safer that IT is out of physical proximity for their well-being and eliminating the possibility of assault on company property.

It was during this measured adult conversation regarding how to best work the problem & mitigate an interim solution* that Polgara mentioned normal tickets for in-person help were supposed to be answered within 24 hours, but “urgent” tickets had a window of 4 hours. I assured her that the guy specifically used the word “urgent”, so we should be good.
*interim solution = Polgara doing pushes on top of her other work while I sat at my desk like a useless git & waited for IT

Then I went back to my desk, took out my laptop from my bag, & got paid by Museum!Co to work on things that didn’t involve the internet for four hours while I waited for IT to show up.

Four hours and ten minutes after my conversation with Polgara, I dialled 1*99.

Say hello to my new acquaintance, 3rd IT Guy.

I give 3rd IT Guy my ticket number from this morning, and am greeted by the inevitable question, “May I have your employee number?”

Yoga breath.. failing, failing…

Urge to kill… rising, rising…

Claris: I’m a contractor, I don’t have an employee number.
3rd IT Guy: Can you please get your supervisor so that they can authorize this phone call?

:deep, cleansing breath… calm cerulean breezes…

Claris: Did the ticket number I gave you come up?
3rd IT Guy: yes.
Claris: well then, shouldn’t my supervisor’s employee ID already be on your screen since it was required to authorize the ticket in the first place?
3rd IT Guy: Oh. Yes, it is.
Claris: Well okay then.

Logic, peoples — whaddaya gonna do?.

I explain the issue, and the fact that it’s been longer than four hours, so I was calling back.

3rd IT Guy: the ticket has been assigned to SA and is awaiting processing. Is the matter urgent?
Claris: Well, I’m sitting at my desk doing nothing for the last four hours, so I’d say… yes. The matter is urgent.
3rd IT Guy: Would you like me to mark the ticket as “urgent”?
Claris: it already should be.

….yeah. It wasn’t.

:squinchyface: :rubforeheadwithheelofhand:

It gets marked “urgent” (again), and I hang up to wait for IT (again).

I walk away and see Polgara, whom I give the current sit-rep. Once again, she was totally open to the limitations of our IT line (no) and possibly threatened lives understood that everyone is falliable, so sometimes things like this slip through the cracks.

Polgara: what?
Claris: Look, all I know is that now I’m supposedly actually marked “urgent”, and I really want a cookie.

:gazes in meaningful manner over Polgara’s shoulder:
when our pregnant co-worker went on leave, she left four boxes of Girl Scout cookies at Polgara’s desk.

Polgara: But you ate all the cookies that won’t make you sick.
Claris: I know, but right now, I don’t care. Because it’s like that.

:silence as Polgara eyes me with the unsaid answer:

Claris: :sigh: I’ll go eat my orange.

As I was leaving the kitchen (with my orange instead of the desired cookie) Polgara’s tea break brought about this Great Moment in Employees Conspiring to Circumvent the System & Actually Get Something Done:

Claris: I don’t know what to tell you. All I know is that it was assigned to SA.
Polgara: oh, I know her. she’s totally cool… we could just call her and ask.
Claris: Can we?
Polgara: crap. I don’t have her extension, & they don’t list IT in the directory.
(yes, this is done to prevent people like us from avoiding the Help Desk call center by doing things like this.)

However, Abrams walked in just then & said, “What’s going on?” We explained, & blessed woman that she is, went, “I have her extension. Every time an IT person comes to my desk, I get their extension & keep it hidden at my desk.”

Wow. Abrams just became Today’s Best Person Ever.

I head back to Abrams‘ office with her, and as she’s getting the info, she throws out, “Hey, you’re going to be busy catching up once this is fixed — if you want to reschedule for another day, I totally understand.”

Now, Abrams is cool, & we’ve spoken a couple times, but we don’t actually work together and generally I don’t have meetings, so I was a little puzzled, an emotion which I guess I communicated by my utterly blank look and response of, “Reschedule…. what?”

Abrams: You know, coffee. This afternoon? I emailed you earlier in the week?
Claris: well, yes, I’m down for that, but I never got an email.

:moment of silence:

Abrams reaching for my ID tag: Wait, how do you spell your last name?
Claris: Dude, who did you actually email?
Abrams: I don’t know…
Claris: well on a bright note, someone thinks they’re seeing you today. So…good luck??

After agreeing to re-schedule, I went back to my desk to call SA. Upon getting her voicemail, I opened my mouth to leave a message and realized… I didn’t know where to have her call back.

I just moved. I don’t know my extension.

What? I never call me.

In my defense, no one else does either — we’re the web department, we email everything. On the rare occasions I use the phone, it’s generally because I’ve gotten an email saying, “Can you please call me at :extensionhere:”

Literally, in eleven months, I don’t think anyone’s actually called me. So I really don’t know how to call me.

I hung up and walked over to Polgara’s desk.

Claris: :sigh: Can you call SA for me?
Polgara: Why can’t you call her?
Claris: I started to, then I realized that I don’t know my extension to leave on her voicemail so she can call me back.

She laughed at me. I know, right? At that point I snickered too, because seriously? wtf ya gonna do, man. wtf ya gonna do.

We called her extension, which got us not just voicemail but also the correct spelling of SA‘s last name.

Polgara: We could just email her.

:my turn to unleash the pointed look previously used for my cookie yearning:

Polgara Okay, I could email her.

As Polgara was doing that, I walked away under the idea that it was time for a bathroom break, and coming in the front door of our section was a woman who looked… Well, I don’t know how to put this other than to say she set off my Nerd-dar — I had the unassailable feeling that this was someone who could fix computers & the spontaneous urge to bribe her with baked goods* in order to begin a legacy of sterling customer service for my computer needs. In my world, that usually signals someone that works in IT.
*Damn straight, people — you want to get in good with IT? Sugar, chocolate, and caffeine. Those are my tools and they have served me well. The first two also work well on rowers. Just a tip.

I decided to hold on to it, and made a (hopefully) unobtrusive beeline for my desk, where sure enough, SA appeared not three minutes later.

And thus, through the magic of Network Admin Awesomesauce, within ten minutes everything worked again. SA replaced a little gray box under my desk with a different little gray box under my desk, hooked up a wire to something, and before I knew it, the heavens opened up, cherubim soundtracked the moment, and the holy light of my monitor shone out from a network-connected system once more.

Claris: Hey, I’m back up & running, so I can do pushes again.
Polgara: thank god. SA got you taken care of?
Claris: Yeah, she’s awesome. So glad I called IT back that second time, she told me that sort of ticket was marked for 5-7 day turnaround.
Polgara: Five to seven days? What were you supposed to do in the meantime? You work in the web department…
Claris: okay, breathe, breathe.. Let’s focus on the positive here — computer is fixed and I didn’t give in to the urge to get a cookie. I’m calling it a win.

Plus, thanks to Abrams, now we’ve got the direct extensions for three people in IT. That right there is corporate gold, my friends. Corporate freakin’ gold.

Which reminds me…

>>> Claris 8/11/2011 1:23 PM >>>
Hey, what’s your extension?

>>> Polgara 8/11/2011 1:28 PM >>>

:dial 6*05:

Polgara: what’s up?
Claris: what’s my extension?
Polgara: how would I know?
Claris: doesn’t it say it on your phone?
Polgara: really quick when I pick up. Call me back.

:hang up:
:dial 6*05:

Polgara: 6*92
Claris: thanks.

… well at least now I know*.
*truth told, I don’t actually know, I just I wrote it down on a post-it in case someone asks later.

Music: Don’t Start Lying to Me Now – Joss Stone (LP1) LP1 - Joss Stone

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  • k-walla

    awesome sauce – as a nearby witness to these trials and tribulations of the web and IT departments – all i have to say is LOL

    • claris

      Heh – I know, right? Here you guys spent the first 10 mos thinking I was all nice & meek & quiet hiding out in my little hole but no no, my friend — it’s a whole ballgame you just didn’t even know about. ;)

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