Accidental IT Pro #6: Stolen Laptops And Angry Executives

Accidental IT Pro #6: Stolen Laptops And Angry Executives

Our accidental IT pro columnist returns. This time around, he’s dealing with two common challenges: stolen laptops and angry execs.

Car thief picture from Shutterstock

Lifehacker brethren!

I do apologise for the delay with my latest Accidental IT Pro entry, but I have a legitimate excuse.

It was a cool Tuesday evening when I left work to go directly to my local cinema and watch Superman beat up some Kryptonians for a while. I like to think I live in a fairly crime-free part of the world, and I do have a bit of faith in my fellow man, which was possibly why it didn’t occur to me to not leave my laptop on the back seat of my car (I know, I know).[related title=”More Accidental IT Pro” tag=”accidental-it-pro” items=”6″]

Needless to say, I returned to my car a few hours later to find the back window smashed and my things gone, including my laptop bag and a case of awesome CDs. I called the police, took a minute to reflect on the criminal’s obviously excellent taste in music, and then realised that I may not have backed up the important work documents that were on my laptop.

I called my boss, who was thankfully in a compassionate mood and told me not to worry because there was a spare laptop at the office that I could use. I decided to wait until the morning to let him know about the missing documents.

Luckily for me, after a restless night’s sleep I realised that everything important that was on my computer had either been emailed by me, or had been emailed by me to someone else. This meant it was just a matter of trawling through all my old emails and finding every single important document that was in there. It took a while, but it actually turned out rather well, and the only real casualty was my almost-finished Lifehacker article.

It was one of my best too, real top-shelf stuff. You would have laughed, then cried, then laughed again, then sort of an unpleasant mixture of both. Not to toot my own horn, but it probably would have changed your life forever. Somewhere in the world is a master criminal in his subterranean lair, listening to incredible music and laughing maniacally at how nobody else will ever read my relatable IT nonsense, before reconsidering his life choices as a result of my moving words and becoming a career philanthropist. Maybe he’ll start a non-profit.

Alas, that copy is gone, and you’re stuck with this garbage. Sorry.

“Well why on earth did you leave your laptop on the back seat?!” I hear you cry in unison, like a chorus of condescending angels.

I know, I’m a lemon.

And all that was but a distraction to the real stress of my week.

The Angry Executive

The angry executive is on a short fuse, and when he asks for things to be done he expects them to be done five minutes faster than humanly possible. Like a Great White tasting blood in the water, the Angry Executive can smell one drop of incompetence in one hundred litres of air-conditioned office. The Great White comparison is quite accurate, as the Angry Executive also possesses a killer instinct, a dominance-based hierarchy, and several rows of serrated teeth.

I’ve bumped into a few Angry Executives in my time, but it wasn’t until this past week that I ran into one in the wild, and one whose anger was focused directly upon me.

This particular specimen started as an IT veteran who called me up to place a very small order for a few handsets for his office. It’s not really an excuse, but with all the stress of losing my laptop, I forgot to actually place the order on the system until three days after I was supposed to. It was nothing too major, and I managed to catch my mistake in time to avoid looking like a complete idiot to both the customer and my boss.

I received an impatient call from the customer exactly one week after he first called. He was angry that he had already paid for this product and I hadn’t updated him on the status of his order. I explained that there was a delay with our internal processes but that I could make a few calls and try to get the order pushed through. There was nothing I could really do, but this seemed to keep the Angry Executive satisfied for the moment.

Three days later, I received word that the order was moving along nicely, and the product should arrive that afternoon. I gave the customer a relieved call, telling him he should have his handsets in his hand by the end of the day, which he begrudgingly accepted.

At the same time, our own office was packed with about forty large cardboard boxes that were getting shipped to Singapore for one of our projects. They were just about to be loaded onto the truck when my boss came out of his office with a small package.

“Wait! The customer won’t be happy without these handsets!” he cried.

This sounded like a job for me, and I grabbed the handsets along with my handy box cutter and stuffed them into a not-quite full box, before taping it all back up again and helping the guys load it onto the truck.

Nailed it.

The next day I called my customer to check if the handsets had arrived. They hadn’t. I checked with our distributor and they said they had accidentally sent them to our office instead of the customer’s.

You see where this is going.

I had to make a pretty unpleasant phone call to the customer to let him know that his handsets were currently on a plane to Singapore and wouldn’t be back for another two weeks. The Angry Executive beast was unleashed.

I copped, to put it lightly, an “earful”.

The handsets are in Singapore at this very moment, and I’ll probably have to deliver the order myself when they get back.

I’ll be sure to let you know how that goes.

Also, if you stole my laptop, give it back you jerk.

Accidental IT Pro is a new occasional series where Jason Dean (not his real name) shares his misadventures as he tries to climb the IT career ladder.


  • Re the laptop..
    Good judgement comes from experience, which is often gained from bad judgement..

  • His order was placed late, the company he placed it through gave him an assurance on the shipping date and yet completely screwed up, tells him it will be TWO WEEKS to get the order in, and he gets blasted on a prominent blog for being upset. Poor guy. If it happened at my last workplace they would have demanded a refund and not given your company any more business.

  • Company I worked for had a laptop stolen from the boardroom by someone that just walked in, managed to slip passed large secretary on the phone managing her social life. $5k laptop @ the time, it was not insured yet and I just finished with all the patches. Anyway Police called year or so later that they found it and it was in a house full of stolen goods. Police said we wouldn’t get it back as it was evidence in a trial. After that the laptop could be used as a door stop (2 old).
    Lesson: Buy cheap and encrypt everything. I got true crypt volume and everything inside is also encrypted and passworded. Not that data is valuable but at least if there is anything of use, it would be too much bother for thieving jerks.

  • “A delay in our internal processes”? You can’t use that too often. Perhaps, “Sorry madam, but our gizzards are in turmoil”. That’s gotta get you the sympathy vote…..

  • Ha! This is the best one yet! You’re pretty clever. Wish we would’ve got to read the missing article though. I always look forward to these articles. I’d definitely love to see them more often.

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