The Bitching Hour Strikes Again


Oh, it’s been a while. Where to start? I’ve been at my current job for nearly three years. Here’s something from the first year…

So, I start getting hammered with tickets from all the small sites. It’s unusual for a Friday. Then I got tickets for various applications timing out. One of my needier small sites starts piling on tickets. They know they have an open ticket, but the staff feels the need for each person to call in a new one.

It doesn’t take long to determine the network is down. Not just for $needy_site, but for many sites. And my phone is amazingly silent. There are a few folks with my direct number, and I can’t believe they wouldn’t call me to bypass the Help Desk for something as big as a site outage. These people call me when the fax machine jams.

That’s when I notice the phone support folks are darting around the building, too. I make some calls, and find out there’s no phone service to many sites. Only internal calls are working.

I stop $phone_support_guy. He says, “Yeah, we know. The phone lines are down all over the place, too. No one knows why yet. We’re getting the minimum services running through… alternate means.” Translation: We’re down to stretching string so the paper cups will have better coverage.

The network is a mess. Server traffic is also being redirected, and some of the apps just can’t handle the strain. A few apps are holding up, but users are hammering those programs and they’re getting slower by the minute.

I grab someone in the higher levels of network management and demand answers. That’s when I learn the horrible truth.

Some idiot decided that since the weather has been sunny, it was a great time to redo his entire backyard. It’s also been very hot, with record-setting temperatures, so $idiot decided it was not a good idea to spend the whole day digging. No, $idiot thinks, it’ll be much faster to borrow a backhoe and go crazy with it.

Y’know those billboards and brochures from the utility companies? They say, “Call before you dig!” They’re not kidding.

$Idiot took out phone and network trunk lines for half of the city, starting around 10am. We’re not the only ones who are screaming at the ISP and telecom companies. All that can be done is to wait for repairs to the massive underground cables, and to get users to lay off the secondary connections so that essentials will continue to work.

$Idiot should be thanking his lucky stars that the ISP is not releasing the address of this bunglefsck. There are a few engineers who’d like to show him the importance of backhoe safety – from the ground’s perspective.

I am very sad for the people who are on-call this weekend.

TL, DR: Call before you dig. Seriously.


Holy shit. So is $dipshit going to be liable for the repairs at least?


I never did find out. There was a brief mention of some “construction issue” causing the massive area outages on the local news, but no follow-up afterward. I truly hope that the utilities went after the guy.


I’m surprised y’all didn’t just go cruising around to find out who was digging up his backyard with a backhoe on a Friday afternoon.

After all, most people work Fridays. Few people can operate a backhoe. Most of those people don’t have ready access to a backhoe.

It is statistically improbable that there were more than one person meeting the criteria in one city. (Hell, I’d be willing to put odds that there are less than five in any given state).

Oh, and before I forget…

Squeeeeeee! @ToasterFairy posted!!!


Everyone was a tiny bit busy for a revenge road trip. And as satisfying as it would have been, it wouldn’t have solved the problem. People smarter than $idiot that worked for the utilities were required. It was a low bar, but it took time to find them.

And it’s good to be missed!




Not to one-up, but I’ve seen this several times. Guy installing a pool, construction on a neighboring block, sewer lines being installed… pretty much all of it. It’s amazing that these people freak out about water and gas lines, but never think of the power or network lines.

Side note - My favorite was a site that was generating alerts so we called to see what was up. Some big ‘truck’ went out of control down the street, missed the building by a couple of inches and slammed into the transformer next door. Took out power for about 3 days.


CWX, in an awful lot of places those items aren’t all that rare.

Tons of them out here. And lots of people can run one well enough to dig a decent hole. Especially if you include a Bobcat as a backhoe, which I would since you could tear those lines out just as easy.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating, but I would guess a few dozen in the Indy area at home on a Friday with a backhoe in the yard. In the whole state likely a few hundred. Now, actually running the thing, maybe a quarter of that, but you aren’t looking for someone still running it after the line’s been cut.

Hell, you can rent them pretty easy out here too.


When I was in college, we had a single T1 line serving the entire region that was piped up from “downstate” (down from us, still pretty far upstate). The backup was (I think) some kind of weak fractional line. Seemed like every semester, some jackhole farmer w/ a big piece of equipment would cut the line while digging, usually on a Friday afternoon. This left us without long-distance phone and very limited internet service for the whole weekend.

If you were lucky, it was a home hockey weekend, so that there was something to do other than drink - you could have 2 drinking sessions per day, broken up by a hockey game.


enabling you to work out your frustrations in a semi-controlled, violent environment!

I love hockey. I think I’ve been banned from four different stadiums.


At it again, ClockWork??


Don’t be ridiculous. I’ve never played ice hockey. I just get very loud and obnoxious at games.

I feel for the guy, though. He asks what’s happening regarding the incident, gets told to go elsewhere, shows the email to a reporter… and he’s called a coward and threatened with arrest. Somebody needs to explain to Moro that if he didn’t want it repeated then he shouldn’t have said it.


Whoa…are you secretly Bronson Pinchot? I totally heard Balki Bartokomous when reading the opening line of your response. :paw_prints:


I am not, nor have I ever been famous.

The jury is still out on “notorious”.


I’m on the phone when I get a chat message from a Help Desk person.

Now, we have a company chat client, commonly used for quick questions. There are a lot of buildings, so it’s very handy. Great information tool, except when people use it to bypass the documentation systems (forms, tickets, requests).

$Help_Desker: Hey TF [$HD misspells my name, which is ON the window title bar] I have $User on the line he is in $room and needs to know if you have a power supply
TF: A desktop power supply? A power cord?
$Help_Desker: power cord
TF: A power cord for what?
$Help_Desker: whats ya numba $User can call you
TF: How about you put in a ticket, I’m in the middle of something.
$Help_Desker: nvm $User says he will call you he dont want a ticket
TF: Put in a ticket anyway. I need a ticket for every request.
$Help_Desker: did he call you
TF: Please put in a ticket.

Just make a fscking ticket. It’s your entire job to make tickets. My understanding was that you were supposed to make a ticket for nearly EVERY call, even if the problem is resolved as soon as you pick up. The Help Desk puts the basics in the ticket – when you guys feel like it, it seems – and THEN I contact the user. That is how it works. You’re also supposed to do basic troubleshooting, but I’ve given up on that pipe dream.

You work in IT, and you know d@mn well the paper trails we are forced to maintain. I have plenty of work to do, as should be evidenced by the fact that my phone is busy and you just gave me another task to do. Don’t you dare tell me to start doing your job, too.

I did my time in the Help Desk trenches, and I was very careful to document EVERY call. It bailed me out on several “irate caller” complaints. I gave MORE info than was required whenever possible, because I knew someone else would have to pick up where I left off. Maybe that is why I moved up, and you are still there.


Been a busy time, being deathly ill and all. Anyway…

The very next day after the last post:

$Help_Desker: hey TF i have a user who has an ipad and needs help witth internet access on it he is at $building are you the one that can help him fix it
TF: I am working on 4 other tickets right now. Who is it, and is it urgent?
$Help_Desker: he is in $building
TF: Name?
$Help_Desker: $User [misspelled name of a VIP from another hospital]
TF: $User, from $Other_hospital?
$Help_Desker: $VIP called for him cause he has a broken foot and is over there today
TF: Will he be there this afternoon?
$Help_Desker: He is not sure how long he will be over there he needs to do some research for $VIP
TF: I can’t get over there right now. I was just doing a laptop for $Other_VIP and now I’m trying to get $staff_PCs working. I’m also on the phone with administration for a separate problem. Is there a time window you can get me for $User? And a second contact number, since he’s moving around?
$Help_Desker: $VIP said he dont know how long he gonna be there he is there now that is all he could give me
$Help_Desker: $Phone_number_for_corporate office [This does me no good if he’s not going to be there long.]
TF: Did you get the cell phone for $User?
$Help_Desker: No $VIP is the one who called
TF: It’s important to get that info on the ticket, every time. Many tickets we get, we can’t get ahold of the user at his desk.
$Help_Desker: well had $User been the one to call i wpould have gotten that info but $VIP called for him so i got $VIP info [Didn’t even bother to include $User’s phone number from the address book, actually.]
TF: $VIP could not have given you that number?
(long pause)
$Help_Desker: $other_number

Yes, I will give you a bit of $#!t for not getting me a number for the user that wants help. Giving me the number of the person who called it in, but not the one who needs me, is about as helpful as Google giving me the address of my doctor’s medical school instead of the address of the clinic.

You never get me second forms of contact, and I have spent days tracking people down. Your comment that you would have gotten it is laughable at best. And in cases like this one, where you know d@mn well that the user will be flitting about like a hummingbird on crack, it is essential.

Oh, and one more thing: JUST. MAKE. THE. FSCKING. TICKET. I did some checking, and you’re actually supposed to make the ticket BEFORE contacting people in my team. Then, if we ask for more info, you append it to the ticket. Even if it’s a “right now” request, we need a ticket. You know this.

The real reason you took so long to provide the number is that you already hung up. You did that because you’re stupid. You had to call them back, which was embarrassing. We both know it. Well, stupid should hurt. This time it just hurt your pride.

TL, DR: “Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.” – John Wayne, The Sands of Iwo Jima


“Hi, TF, this is $Luser. I was talking to you yesterday about Microsoft Silverware? I need that installed. Silverware. Call me.”

What makes this so noteworthy was that this guy had the word “Silverlight” on his screen. I guess working in medicine means you don’t have to read entire words anymore.


When you’re measuring time in tickets per hour, and everyone is out, you’re going to have a bad day. It’s even worse when half the day was pre-booked with other tickets and requests. And then people start playing the VIP card to get bumped to the head of the line. Oh, and the head of the building came down to insist that the entire hall be cleared immediately. You know, that hall that is used for staging equipment deliveries and holding the trash for the nearby meeting room? Yes, that area. I wasn’t allowed to get REAL work done until it was “tidy.”

I fell on my sword to make things look better, and ended up asking for help anyway. My supervisor, at the end of the day: “i’m sure your patients were tested today so head home and have a drink.”

I would like to test me some patients about now, I’ll tell ya. GLaDOS had some good ideas.


I don’t understand why some people think that it’s quicker to call/email me direct when all I’m going to do is ask them if they’ve logged a job, and if not, to log a fnargen job. The only excuse I will accept is “my computer won’t boot”.

The complaint is always that they don’t know when they need to log a job and when they don’t, but as my boss puts it: if they want you to do anything (look something up, change something, install something, whatever) they need to log a job… and let’s face it, nobody calls me just to say hello.


Oh, and WB, TF. :smile: