The B.O.F.H. #9 - #11
Date: Fri, 29 Mar 96 19:08:13 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: The B.O.F.H. #9 - #11
[More in the never-ending saga... Gee, I suppose, if you've never been a
system manager, operator, or other kind of support person, you might not find
this screamingly funny... maybe. What did you say your user name was? -psl]
Bastard Operator from Hell #9
I'm driving to work and I'm stuck behind this old guy, the classic slow
driver from hell, whose car red-lines at 20 mph and can't take corners at
more than 5. I honk my horn but his hearing aid's probably turned way down
to "whisper", so I'm stuck.
I make a mental note of his license plate. In fact, I did that 60 times a
minute for 15 and a half minutes. Oh dear.. oh dear.... Looks like another
call to the DMV Database to register a vehicle as stolen by out of town arms
I get to work, flick the excuse page over. "ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION FROM
SATTELLITE DEBRIS". Fair enough, it looks like it's going to be a good day.
I log into "FUCKYOU", (the help-desk enquiries username) and go into mail.
There's 3 new messages, the first of which is 117 lines long, so it's
obviously a storyteller. Shit, I hate that. Instead of saying "My account
needs more disk space" they tell you about how they're doing this bit of
research for a lecturer and how it's got to be in yesterday, and they almost
had it but their second cousin twice removed had a perforated herpes scab
and lost a lot of blood and had to be rushed into hospital... etc etc. I
delete the message.
Second message I read, but it's one of those people who can't handle the
mail interface and send a null message, so all you get is headers. I reply
to the message saying "No worries, we can do that by next Tuesday". Hope it
The last message I leave for tommorrow, because Saturday would be a dull
day if I ever had to work then.
The phone rings. I thought I'd fixed that!
I put it on hands free so I can slop some pizza into the microwave.
"Yes" I call
"Something's wrong with my Boot disk, I can't login to the server"
"Have you got your disk with you?"
I go get the disk and put it and the pizza in for 5 minutes on "ULTRA-NUKE".
Six minutes later, he rings back.
"It still doesn't work, and now my disk makes a funny noise and smells."
"OH SHIT! It's that electromagnetic radiation from satellite debris again!"
"Really? I think I heard about that!" (What a tool!)
"Yep, I'm sorry, you'll have to buy another disk"
"Oh, that's ok, I don't mind, the old one was getting worn. Thanks"
"Sure, no worries. And be sure to run it through our virus checker FDISK
when you get a lot of important data on it..."
"I will! Thanks!"
"That's Ok - it's my job!"
Xcbzone is running really slow so I kill off a whole lot of database
backends that seem to be hogging all the cpu and get back into my game.
(It isn't easy on the frontline, work work work...)
I go to the cafeteria for a quick 2 hour snack - they're so nice to me
there. They always have been, ever since that computer glitch that
registered their kitchen as an organ recipient - very messy. I grab a couple
of cans of coke and some cheese things and cruise on back to the office via
the first year computer funamentals lab. I look in the window on the scene
that unfolds itself to me - a lab full of first years with no demonstrator.
WELL I'LL JUST HAVE TO HELP!
I walk on in.
"Right, I'm your temporary replacement demonstrator and today we're going
to put our assignments aside for half an hour to learn about the REMARK
function, or, as it's known to the computer literate world, rm.."
I should've been a teacher you know - I've got this way with people...
Bastard Operator from Hell #10
I get invited to a lecture as a guest speaker in "Computing Operations
Fundamentals", so I leave the control room in the capable hands of Sam, the
janitor and cruise on down.
The lecture starts and goes ok, then there's a 10 minute period where
students get to ask a "real operator" questions that they have about
I get out my pad and pen. "Before we get started" I say, "could you just
call out your username before you ask me a question, I find it easier to
apply your problem to terms you would understand better" The lecturer eats
all this up - the personal touch really gets to them. "First Question, You
"What do you think of the privacy of individuals on a shared system?"
"What was your username please?"
>Scratchy scritch "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGH!"
"AH! Well, he seems to have left - must have picked a bad COMPLETELY RANDOM
example. Next question. You, over there..."
"CMS1136. I was..."
"Ah yes, 1136 the only person on campus who subscribes to alt.sex.buggery.
"It's purely for research purposes!"
"I'm sure it is. You do a lot of story posting for a researcher don't you?"
[Okay, so I don't really know what the BOFH was doing to make them scream
and leave. But I'll be happy to let you know as soon as I find out, just
send me your username... -psl]
Two minutes later, the lecture theatre's empty. That's the problem with
students today, they just don't want to learn.
I go back to control and Sam's asleep at the console again. I think he's
after my job. I make a mental note to tap into the salary database and
cancel his health and accident insurance payments. You can't be too
I put the phone on the hook for the first time this afternoon and it starts
ringing almost immediately. THAT'S IT! I redirect it to 911 catch a bit of
shuteye. That'll teach them. OOPS! Almost forgot to turn over the excuse
calendar. "STATIC FROM NYLON UNDERWEAR" Nope, too plausable - although in
some cases I could do an on-site check. Nah, can't be stuffed. I'll pick
another one. "STATIC FROM PLASTIC SLIDE RULES" Now THAT'S one with a
I un-redirect the phone and drag the rubbish bin so it rests on the
printer's stacker - another job well done. The phone rings - this could be
the big one!
"Hi, Um, how do I spell-check my file?"
"Simple, just type `spell' and the filename"
I'm so bloody nice this morning. Especially as I know that my version of
spell INTRODUCES errors instead of detecting them. Things like changing
friend to freind and vice-versa. What the hell.
The phone rings - it's them again.
"There's something wrong with spell"
"What makes you think that?"
"Because my file is all corrupt now!"
"That doesn't sound like spell to me. Are you logged in thru a PC?"
"Yes, but I can.."
"Please, leave the technical diagnosis to me... Now, is there a plastic
ruler somewhere on or in the desk?"
"Um >clunka "Right. You've got a static buildup on your hard-drive caused
by the changing electrostatic field generated by the ruler - the same thing
that makes bits of paper stick to it when you rub it up and down your
DUMMY MODE ON
"Oh. What do I do?"
"You know how you get paper off a ruler by hitting it on a table lots of
times? Well do that with your PC. Say 20 times - lift it about a foot off
the desk & drop it."
>crash >crash >crash "Um, the screen went dark"
"That's ok, it's supposed to do that - keep going. And when you're finished,
do the screen as well, that static may have gone up the wires to it."
>crash >crash >crash I hang up. I get up and go out to the public area to
put honey in the floppy drives when a guy who looked like Lee Harvey Oswald
runs up to me and shoots me, only the sound comes from the machine room,
and I can hear the ex System-Managers chuckle....
Later, in the ambulance, I realise. I forgot to get the guys username...
Then everything goes dark
The Bastard LIVES!
Bastard Operator from Hell #11
The darkness cleared as we got out of the tunnel and it occurred to me that
I couldn't be all that injured. Then again, maybe I was. Someone was going
Of course, a true BOFH considers this not really as dying, but more of going
home for the holidays.
Five seconds later, I'm getting the upside of 15Kv across the nipples.
(These ambulance guys sure know how to party).
Bastard Operator from Hell LIVES!
Three weeks later I'm back on my backside and feeling rested and relaxed
behind the console again. The rest has done me good, I feel *great!*. I
catch up on everyone's email then let the students know I'm back by
performing an impromptu preventative maintenance in the middle of lab time
by kicking the restart switch (They love it really)
I flip today's excuse card, "GLOBAL WARMING" YES YES YES! What a welcome home!
It's the end of the month so all those automatic email reminder programs
will be sending messages all over the place. I set the system clock back 7
days to buy some peace and quiet and swap the printer ribbon for the three
year old one with holes in it.
I sort through my snail mail and crack open the BOFH Monthly Newsletter,
"kill -9" and check out the articles therein. There's a nice peice on making
OS2 slow, boring and painful, but it looks exactly like the OS2 installation
instructions to me... Ah, who knows. I head straight to the BOFH Wizard
section to see if any of my articles were published. All of them!!! Even
the one about the C compiler that randomly removes one line from the source
code it's compiling!
The phone rings.
"The Screen on my PC is blank!!!"
"It's the power cord" I say.
"No, I checked that. When I switch it on, it does nothing!"
"... It's the power cord" I say.
"No, I checked and it's all plugged in properly. There's no lights on the
keyboard or anything"
"... It's the power cord" I say.
"Oh Hey! I just noticed, the cord's not plugged in properly!"
"The power cord?" I ask
"No worries at all" I say "Is it all working well now?"
"Yes, I think so. I'm sorry, you WERE right all along"
"Yes, we're getting a lot of this, it's due to the current Global Warming
problem. It causes random thermal expansion and contraction resulting in
temperature induced movement of friction based holding mechanisms.."
I listen carefully. Nothing. In other words, ...
"You can fix it permanently tho'" I say
"Well it's all to do with lowering salt deposits on the metal contacts"
"Oh!" (Dummy mode irrevocably engaged)
"All you need to do is just take the power plug out deposit some dilute
mineral salts on it. Do you have some dilute mineral salts on you?"
"Ok, no worries, just stick it in your mouth drool into it. But make sure
you wipe the plug first to get rid of any germs, and TURN THE SWITCH OFF ON
THE MONITOR before you do - we don't want a nasty accident!
>Fzzztclunk! I hang up as the receiver hits the floor. Disk space is too
good for them.
[Subtle, huh? -psl]
© 1996 Peter Langston