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 efficient!
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
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 wall socket over there. Take the refill out of the pen and poke in into
the wall socket."
"But it's live!"
"Would I really make you do it if it were live?"
Of course I would.
He was no good anyway. No killing instinct.
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 gauge
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 tomorrow. 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.