The Bastard Operator From Hell
The Bastard Operator From Hell puts in a day on the helpdesk ...

"Well I feel it would be good for intra-departmental understanding if we were all to work in other positions for a while", the boss says, defending his master plan of having 'job share' once every six months "The CEO was very impressed with my initiative!"

"But surely you must realise that we'll be leaving network operations completely open with no staff?"

"Which is why I've put you in the helpdesk area" the boss replies smugly. "You'll be the first to know of any problems that arise..."

All my arguments are defeated by the boss in double-quick time, which means that a day in the helldesk is inevitable.

The PFY, bless him, smells a rat.

"So what's going on?", he asks suspiciously. "The boss couldn't answer an operational question if he'd been up all night studying, yet today he had solutions for everything! And you didn't even put up a fight. It's almost as if you wanted to work on the helldesk! What's up!?!?"

Sadly it is neccessary to let someone else in on my master plan, if only to prove that I am still in possession of a full quota of marbles.

"Cast your eyes around the department", I say. "Look at the equipment therein! Where does the newest of that equipment reside?"

"Well, the helpdesk - they need the latest and best to test out all the caller's software on their own machines. What's your point?"

"How much RAM has your PC got?" I ask

"16 Meg"

"WINDOW DRESSING!", I cry "Why, every single helpdesk machine has at least 32, and a couple have 64!"

"YOU'RE GOING TO STEAL THEIR HARDWARE!", the PFY cries, shocked. "Errrmmm ... we're going halves in it though, aren't we?"

"Ja, mein Freund!" I cry, stuffing my 'lunchbox' with tools.

The next day I turn up before start time(!) to assume my new post. The phone rings at 5 minutes to opening, and I'm in such a good mood I answer it.

"Hello, is this the helpdesk?" a nervous voice asks.

"It most certainly is", I gush, all enthusiasm.

"I'm running short of space on the display machine and someone said that I should 'compact' all the unused stuff with a compaction program on the system? Which one would that be?"

"You're on a Macintosh, right?" I ask.

"Yes, the department graphics server" he answers.

"Right. Well, you'll want to use the default compactor that's stored on the desktop. 'Trash', I believe it's called".

"Isn't that how you remove files?"

"No, that's what the ERASE key does. And you don't have one on your computer, so you're completely safe. You just drag the file into the Trash 'folder', and then select 'Empty Trash' to invoke the file into the compactor."


"Yes, it's very efficient too, you'd be surprised how much you can fit on your hard disk if you run it through the compactor."

I leave the poor pleb 'compacting' his entire department's work and get back to removing all the coprocessors and extraneous memory from the machines after replacing their ROM diags to report the missing hardware as present. Child's play, really. To delay discovery I switch virtual memory on wherever possible.

The PFY, meantime, is busy erasing our numbers from the helpdesk phonelists and shorting the batteries to their phone memories, to the inevitable but somehow satisfying detriment of all those saved numbers.

The phone rings and as the PFY's machine still has its internals hanging out, I answer.

"Hello, Helpdesk?" the caller asks.

"Yes, what can we do for you?", I ask, still pleased with the rapidly growing pile of saleable hardware in my 'lunchbox'.

"I upgraded my software and now my CD-ROM won't play music discs any more" the user bleats.

"Well, it's probably just some dust deposited on the CD-ROM lens" I respond, knowing full well that this is a bug documented on the first page of the manual. But who reads manuals?

"So what do I do?"

"Well, have you got a vendor-supplied, drive-specific, CD-ROM cleaning caddy?", I ask.

"Uh ... no", my user replies


"OK, not to worry, you can improvise with a lightly abrasive disk."

"Great!" the user gushes "How?"

"Well, pop down to the Buildings Maintenance desk tomorrow and borrow a 80-grit orbital sanding disk from them. Slip it in your drive and let it run"

"How will I know when it's complete?"

"Well, you'll hear it spinning, then gradually slow down until it stops. When it's stopped your drive is done."

"Hey, thanks", my user gushes, then rings off.


They PFY and I are almost sad to leave at the end of the day - the helldesk has plenty of potential. I allow a faint smile cross my face while I push a matchstick into the keyway as the helpdesk door locks shut. Late start for them tomorrow, then ...

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