You wanna see busy? Then that's what you'll get

Flashback to the mid-1990s, when this manufacturer has decided to slash the number of plant workers -- and an IT support pilot fish figures he's in the crosshairs too.

"I was the lone IT person at this site, doing network administration and PC repair and supporting more than 200 users," fish says. "But I'd heard rumors from co-workers at corporate HQ that my manager was going to make a surprise visit the following week to see if perhaps my job could be outsourced.

"The day before the visit, I walked around the plant handing notes to friends, asking them to page me over the intercom system at various times throughout the next day."

Manager arrives the following morning, and invites fish to the cafeteria for coffee. But as soon as they sit down, the intercom goes off, asking fish to call extension 9999.

Fish goes to a wall phone, dials the number, thanks his friend for the page and stands for a few minutes talking to a dial tone after his friend hangs up. Then he explains to the manager that he has to leave to fix a printer problem on the shop floor.

Twenty minutes later, fish hears his name over the intercom again -- and he calls a different friend to thank him for the page. Eventually he tracks down his manager again, and just as she's asking how things are going and whether he's staying busy, another intercom page goes off.

"Again I picked up the phone. I told her a server had issues, and this time she accompanied me to the computer room," says fish. "I checked disk space, looked at the performance monitor and then called the last number and said, 'Try it now.'

"My friend said, 'Oh, got it -- she's with you!' I said, 'Great, glad it’s working,' and hung up."

At noon, just as the manager is suggesting they leave for lunch, the intercom goes off with another page. Fish tells the manager that engineering is having issues.

She goes to lunch with another manager, while fish goes to the lab and eats his lunch there.

The afternoon passes the same way, with one page after another -- and at the end of the day, the manager tells fish she's sorry they couldn't spend more time together, but she could see he was really keeping busy.

"The next week, my co-worker at HQ said that when the manager came back, she told everyone she was surprised I hadn't had a nervous breakdown because I was constantly getting paged!" fish reports.

"They did end up outsourcing support at other sites, but left my job alone."

Keep Sharky busy by sending me your true tales of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll get a stylish Shark shirt every time I use one. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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