Tuesday, 26 March 2013

330: Fun It

Computers are never fun.  No, let me rephrase that.  Working with computers is never fun.  Even that’s not quite it.  Working in computers, with people who work with computers is never fun.  Yes, that’s what I mean.

Sure, in my youth I was excited about my career.  I was going to work in IT.  The late 1990s had been a buzz time for IT professionals, when the offons didn't understand a thing about Y2K.  Remember that?  I was 11 and from my bedroom I knew nothing was going to happen.  But they totally pulled it off and made a killing.  A total killing.  That’s when I decided my future lie amongst these creatures of wily cunning, advanced intellect and bulging wallets.

I topped my degree class pretty much throughout our three years and when my mother snapped me throwing my mortarboard in the air, it was me declaring to the world ‘Here I come.’  Such determination radiates from my face that it was virtually tangible even on matt Kodak paper.

As you’d expect, I’d landed a job with a large multi-national company before I even graduated.  I spent two weeks tanning in Rhodes and started work ready to revolutionize the system, the ethos and the productivity, all for the better and from my large antique desk.  I thought it might have a green leather inlay with a gold edging pattern, probably worn from decades of hard, hard work.  And if it didn’t, I treat myself to a new top with my first bonus.

A Spinster on reception pointed to stairs leading down to the basement when I arrived and asked where I should report that first morning.  There were only small windows down there and all but one were painted or screwed shut against intruders.  That window was permanently open and was situated above the hot desk nominally allocated to me.  In practice it became my desk but only because everyone else knew it got wet when the rain drove in on the prevailing wind.  It was daily that first summer.

It was the happy band of IT professionals working in that basement who helped shatter my illusions and wreak my faith in human nature and make me wish I’d listened to my father’s advice to enter the law.  They taught me the term offons.  That’s what we call most of the people in this place and you know why?  Because all they need to do is turn it off and on again.  Within a week I wouldn’t even log a call until the user had rung off and done that.  They hardly ever called back.

I don’t get to design systems or even consult on what a system might look like.  Sometimes I install drivers, but rarely with all this plug and play.  Sometimes there is a new starter, and then there is a rota for dealing with them because we all need a bit of excitement.  Last week I spent seven minutes trying to identify why a user’s id had stopped working.  Turned out to be related to an offon but it was exciting whilst it lasted.

I can see myself still being here at 25 because that’s less than a year but I have to be out of it before I turn 27.  The Spinster is developing a fondness for paper jams and I just can’t take it much longer.

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