December 22nd, 2006


A Little B&E Starts the Holiday

The following was supervisor approved, but even so it bodes for a strange holiday season.

While I was in Nevada in October my boss asked me to work the night shift today. Since the family wasn't planning any Christmas travel at the time I agreed and ended up scheduled for 12-8, lunch at 4 p.m. Typically, we don't get a heavy call volume on holidays.

Just as I left for lunch my pager rang. A call from a site with premium support. Service starts at 8 p.m. and for pre-press emergencies, but we always get calls near 5 p.m. and on holidays when customers assume we're closed. Turns out the site calling the pager did so because our phones were down. Which explained why the phones were more quiet than normal. :-)

One thing followed after another and around 6 p.m. my supervisor asked me to break into his office to check the phone system through his PC's VNC connection.

Me: You want me to break into your office?
Supervisor: Sure. Or you can get X to do it.
Me: X left already. (Because I was told by supervisor to let people off 30 minutes early if the phones were quiet.)
Supervisor: Oh ... well, you can do it then.
Me: How do you expect me to do that?
Supervisor: You can use a credit card.
Me: OK. I'll try.

I had a rewards card from my visit to Nevada, so I tried using that, but my supervisor's door proved too tough for that to work. Called him back and ...

Supervisor then suggested I go over the wall. "Like when you guys put all those balloons in my office." I'm wondering whether he wanted me to climb over the wall, which is about 9-10 feet high, when he continues on to say he thinks I can hook the door handle with an extension cord to open it. I don't have an extension cord, so I take the Christmas lights from my cubicle, which hadn't worked for three years, and tied one end into a wide loop.

So I head across the building to the storage room and cart the ladder back to the conference room next door. Move a table out of the way. Set up the ladder and ... the ceiling tile won't budge.

Takes me about a minute of shifting, but I finally slide it open. A strut laid across part of the tile I'd chosen. Next hurdle is the ceiling tile one away from above the door. But I can't lift it with my fingers alone. So out come my keys, and I'm thinking, "Drop these in his office and I'm screwed if I can't get the door open then. Melissa will just love it."

But it works out OK. I hook it with my car key, which is longer than most of the others -- and I see the lights are off. The room is pitch black and I can barely see two feet in front of my face, let along the six or so to the door handle I'm supposed to hook. Then I notice a flashing light. The monitor on the PC is cycling and it casts a weak glow, like a lighthouse beacon through the thickest pea soup. Maybe just enough light ...

So I lower the lasso over the wall and start swinging it like a pendulum. After about five minutes, success!

But once I'm in the office and back on the phone with my supervisor it turns out his PC can't access the computer we need. It will display for about a second and then goes away.

Me: What now?
Supervisor: I guess you should go to the front desk and check the receptionist's computer.

The front desk is open to the entire building. No doors, no locks, no Christmas light lassos. :-)