The BSMFH #1 & #2
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 96 13:24:18 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: The BSMFH #1 & #2
[In our last episode the Bastard Operator From Hell, as promised, came to his
timely end. Fortunately (for him, but not for his users) his end was the
result of being kicked upstairs to the System Manager's job... The saga of
the BOFH ends; the saga of the BSMFH begins... -psl]
The Bastard System Manager from Hell #1
I get into my office and it's my first day - I want to make a good
impression, so I empty my IN tray into the bin. Now that's what I call
I get a call from the big boss - he's been getting complaints about the
Trainee Bastard Operator from Hell. I ask him to forward all the complaints
to me and that it would be best to let me deal with them. I ring the
operator and get him to make an appointment with me.
Two weeks later, he does, and I show him the complaints that have
accumulated so far.
"Seventy Three complaints in your first three weeks!" I shout "It's good -
but it's NOT Good Enough! You should be getting at least 10 complaints a
day - AT LEAST! Now, let's see what you're doing wrong: You get a call from
a user - what do you do?"
"Kill them off?" The TBOFH replies
"NO! How can you kill them off if you don't know their USERNAME? Your FIRST
priority is to get their username. Then what would you do?"
"Kill them off?"
"NO! Get them to tell you what their problem is!"
"Because later I can say they didn't explain their problem to you properly!
It's a great defence - works every time. A user rings me up to complain; I
listen to their problem, then say "OH, WHEN YOU SAID `MY PC DOESN'T WORK'
HE MUST HAVE THOUGHT YOU MEANT `HOW CAN I MAKE MY PC NEVER WORK AGAIN AND
DESTROY MY LIFE'S WORK AT THE SAME TIME?' - IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME!' then
they tell me how implausible that is, I say how terribly sorry we are, then
fake some connect and CPU time records so their monthly bill is about the
same as the Uraguayan national debt... Understand? So, after you've heard
their problem, what do you do?"
"Kill them off?"
"NO! Then you make up some excuse. Have you got an excuse card calendar?"
"And you said you were qualified to operate a computer! You'd better have
mine." I pass my computer card calendar over, flipping it to page one -
"ENTROPY"....... ...I like it. "Now, you give the cretin an excuse then what
do you do?"
"Kill them off?"
"YES!" (He certainly has a fixation) "Then what?"
"NO! Then they'll call you back when the problem recurs. Your job is to make
them FEAR calling you. How can you work when people are calling? So, you
make them pay for calling in the first place. What would you do?"
"Delete their files?"
"Yeah, it's a start, but then they may call back when they get new files.
You want them NEVER to call back. What could you do?"
"Swear at them?"
"No. I can see we'll have to demonstrate. Have you got a metal ballpoint?"
"See that wallsocket over there. Take the refill out of the pen and poke in
into the wallsocket."
"But it's live!"
"Would I really make you do it if it were live?"
"Oh" >fiddlefiddleBZZZZZZZEEEEERT!THUD! Of course I would.
He was no good anyway. No killing instinct.
The BASTARD SYSTEM MANAGER FROM HELL #2
So I'm interviewing for new Operators, and, as the Bastard System Manager
from Hell, I have high standards. And as the Immediate Past Bastard Operator
from Hell, I have even higher standards.
I get the first applicant in.
"Ok" I say "I'm just going to ask you some simple questions to guage your
knowledge of Computing and Networking in relation to the Operations Field"
"Right. Question One. What's the best way to stop an individual posting
nasty articles to news?"
"Close their account"
"Good - But can you elaborate?"
"Delete all their files, Change their password to `Knobhead' and Erase any
backups of their account"
"Excellent. What is a killfile?"
"Uh. It's a list of usernames/topics/news items etc that you wish the news-
reader to automatically skip so you don't have to wade through rubbish"
"Uh No. Remember I said pertaining to Operations. A killfile is in fact a
file with a list of names of people you are going to kill."
"Oh. Of course."
"Never mind. What is DCE?"
"Delete, Close and Erase"
"DON'T TRY to RING. The Operator's watchword"
"Well done. DBMS?"
"Dont Bug My Supervisor. Probably the most important acronym around"
"You betcha. Ok. A user comes to you with a complaint about another user
sending sexually explicit email messages to them. What do you do?"
"Take a copy of the messages, close the complainant's account (by accident)
and extort money from the mailer by threatening to show their parents"
"Good. I think you'll do nicely. Hang onto this wire..."
"I don't think so."
"Excellent. You passed the final test. You start tommorrow. Please leave by
that door so as not to disturb the other applicants."
Electrified Door Handle. Gets them every time. I think it's the "Complaints
Dept" sign that draws them to it like moths to a globe...
I push the body out onto the fire escape.
© 1996 Peter Langston