We asked heroic IT workers to tell us about their worst jobs. You came back with tales of overbearing bosses, unbelievable customers, and spoiled coworkers. And did you hear about the one with the preserved tumour?
Images: The IT Crowd
I think my worst was as the lone IT techmonkeygirl for a branch office of (like, twenty people) an insurance/investment company, in Austin TX, in the late 1990s. It was low key, really, except for being the one who had to document and scrub the porn off the work computers when a couple of younger reps got caught (by me, natch) having used company internet recreationally while "working" late.
And then, later that same month, swapping out desktop systems for the dude with the cup of tobacco juice. The spit cup that he spilled, while I was under the desk hooking up the network cables. He spilled it over the edge of the desk, onto my beskirted (office dress code) arse.
As far as soul sucking, it's a tossup between working support for Dell and the startup that locked us out when the vulture investors took the tech and ran in 1998.
Oh Jesus where do I even start. I worked at a hospital.
There is the time we were all mandated to work like a week straight when blaster virus came along because the idiots made the administrator password admin. The expected us to sleep in our offices. I told them to get fucked and I would be back in the morning.
There was the married executive that was surfing gay porn at work that the hospital refused to take any action over so we had to clean spyware bullshit off his computer ever week.
There was the executive doctor who insisted that the other doctors should be able to surf pornography at work because they work long hours.
They promoted a woman to run the 2nd tier support that barely knew how to turn a computer on let alone fix one that would get in daily screaming matches with my co workers.
Her boss who would take employees out to the bar that were friends with him then let them come back and work overtime after drinking all afternoon.
One of my coworkers was a raging alcholoholic who would drink at work and got away with it for years before anything happened - he was sent to rehab for 2 weeks then he was back getting drunk at his desk again.
This isn't even to mention the fact we had to fix computers around dead bodies. I could write a book about that shit.
Working for a major CGI company for almost 6 years doing Desktop, Software, Server, AVID and Telco Support/Maintenance. Got laid off with 6 months severance and had to sign a document stating I would not work for anyone for 6 months, and in the same industry for 2 years. So, next day my Job is posted, contract and split into three different jobs. (Deskop/Telco, AVID, Server) Applied for all three, and turned down because I did not have enough experience. LOL. Company ended up being gutted and sold.
I posted about a position I had elsewhere in this thread, well, at that position one of the sales reps demanded I fix iTunes on his computer at home. He was one of the top earners, and we were supposed to bend over backwards for them, but a line had to be drawn. I kindly replied that I couldn't allocate time to his personal stuff. He replied with lots of swear words. I replied and included the three people on the chain on top of me that if he wanted me to allocate work time for his personal stuff these are the people who would have to ok it. The top level person said "no" since it was in no way related to any business things. He came back, including the VP who treated IT like garbage, that his "inability to configure a soundtrack for his sister's wedding was preventing him from getting his work done".
Thankfully, this time, everyone agreed that this would have to be personal contracting hours paid from the sales rep. So I set the price at $US200/hr, minimum 4 hours, not including drive time, cash up front. I thought it would have been prohibitive to him but the guy actually asked me to stop by that night to do the work that night, but didn't want to pay up front. Long story short, he dropped it and I never gave a flying f*** if his sister's wedding playlist was any good.
LookWhatDanny made wrote:
I've been doing this for 20 years - I have horror stories on top of horror stories. And yet the one that still bothers me most of all is one of the most piddly. At my last place of employment, there was a woman who would ask me at least once a month about something related to the typewriter she kept on her desk. Whether there were any more ribbons for it, whether we had any spares "in the back," where she could take it for service... When I asked her why she imagined I would know anything about typewriter maintenance, she told me, "If it plugs into the wall, it's IT's problem."
Company had 3 offices and decided to close my office to save money. I had been there 14 years and was the Sr. Network Administrator on a salary, not hourly. Email server was in my office, as well as several live websites and SFTP servers. They gave us 3 months notice before the closure (state law, not out of the kindness of their hearts) so everyone immediately set out to find new jobs. I was offered the chance to stay but it would have required 4 hours of commuting every day at my own expense, so I decided to pass.
I found a new job and gave my 2 weeks notice, my last day was to fall on a Friday roughly 1 month before the office close date. They never worried about moving the email server even though I was the only one who touched it and knew the system. So my last day comes and the VP sends out a meeting request for the following day (Saturday) with me as mandatory, subject line "Move email server". This was a physical move requiring 4 hours of driving round-trip to get the server to the other office, plus all the DNS and software changes required to get it back online, so basically an entire Saturday.
They expected me to do this for free the day AFTER my last day. I told them sorry, my last day is today, I don't work here anymore after that. He looked me straight in the eyes and said that since I don't start my new job until Monday I technically still work there. I said sorry, can't do it, and told them I MIGHT consider doing it at a consultant rate. They said no, so I wished them the best of luck and moved on. Three weeks later they called in a panic and agreed to pay me whatever I wanted as long as I could get the email server moved that weekend.
I was hired and learned two days into it that the company was "ramping" down. Worked a whole week tearing out the company's servers and a month destroying hard drives. Then I my boss tells me that my services were no longer needed. My last task was to cut the rack off the wall.
Bright side? As I was leaving, I saw my boss at HIS exit interview.
Robert Laughlin wrote:
This may not be traditional IT, but a massive chunk of post-production today is IT. I work for a company that facilitates getting raw footage from the camera into the editing bay. What a lot of people don't realise is that, today, you start editing the movie on day two of shooting (day two, because it takes half a day or overnight to get everything processed from day one). Once things get going, you're editing and shooting at the same time, so it's important that the set and the edit room are in tune with each other.
As soon as the words "the Director says" are uttered in a production, you have to pay attention. Especially when "the Director says" something is a problem. Doesn't matter. If they say it's a problem, it's a goddamn problem and you better fix it now. That attitude doesn't necessarily come from the director themselves (though it often does); that's just the accepted attitude in production.
Anyway, I was working on this one production, relatively low budget, and "the Director says" that the footage in the edit bay doesn't match the footage he sees on set, colorwise. So this immediately became my problem, and I had to figure out why my dailies were wrong. Now, I was pretty sure my dailies weren't wrong, and I wanted to do some basic proofs to establish that first, so we didn't go down the wrong rabbit hole. Except "the Director says" my dailies were wrong. So they were wrong. We're processing these on set, so I spend most of a day on location, in a sweltering light-proof tent, trying to figure out why these are rendering incorrectly. Of course my troubleshooting got me nowhere, because they weren't wrong to begin with. So, after doing an incredible amount of work to prove that they were correct, including swapping hardware -- in the field -- and recalibrating my monitor, as well as production's monitor, they finally believed that maybe, possibly, the problem was in the edit bay. Which my company didn't operate, by the way. It was at a different company.
So I spend most of the next day at this other company trying to fix their gear. Babysitting their workflow and making sure it was correct. I did find a few problems with the way they were doing things, but they weren't the source of the problem. The techs at this other company were justifiably defensive, and I just wanted to work with them to solve the issue. Luckily, we were able to work -- shakily -- together, to determine that there was nothing wrong with their gear or workflow. What the hell, right? The director comes in, and is pissed, because this issue still has not been solved. We explain that we've gone through every possible solution and we can't figure out the problem. Especially because the on-set monitors, to us, look just like the edit bay monitors. At this point, after two days of this, something finally dawns on the director.
"Do you think it has anything to do with the fact that I'm wearing sunglasses on set when I look at the monitor?"
The room was a collective face palm. Two days of unnecessary, hairpulling work, just because "the Director says". I could have solved this mystery in an hour if I was allowed to prove my case at the beginning. As efficient as film sets can be, they can also be unbelievably arcane.
Hmm, where to begin.
Worked for a chain of Hospitals that was constantly trying to outsource their I.T. Department because "we cost too much money", only to find every single time that we were all pretty severely underpaid and understaffed, and there was no way any outsourcing company could get the job done cheaper. Meanwhile the executives were getting paid beaucoup dollars to try and outsource us... among other shady things (and this for a "Not-For-Profit").
They also up until about 5 years ago ran alot of their reports and data jobs on an old Unisys mainframe from the 70's. It used 210MB tapes (that's Mega Bytes) which had to be loaded in these caddies 5-tape so we could load like 24 at a time to actually process any sort of modern data amount. Half the tape drives (of the 10 I think there were?) didn't work, and only about 1 of them would feed tapes from the caddy correctly. We once had a major meltdown of the mainframe system and had to call Unisys support. They had to escalate the issue all the way up to like the Vice-President of the company, because he was the only one that had been with the company long enough to recognise the error and know how to fix it.
There was also this time, when after no one at the company getting raises for several years (mostly due to the nurses and their union striking every couple of years making insane demands... thanks nurses) that they told us they were going to give out a sort of X-mas bonus. Sweet we all thought. The amount you got was based on how your hospital scored on all of these metrics, and was between $US300-$US600. Being a non-metric in IT, we got $US400, which was sweet. With those checks came a letter, telling everyone that they should be thanking these top 3 executives for making this lil bonus happen, and how generous they were, etc. Well, us in IT printed off the checks, amongst the many many $US300-$US600 checks, we also printed off $US40,000 checks for each one of those "generous" executives.
Then there was the job where me and my boss had to bust one of the executives for having an insanely large child porn collection which he used his work desktop to download it all. Seriously, you can't even fathom how large of a collection this was. Being a "well respected" and high up executive, he got to retire with honours from the company before going to prison. That was one absolute nightmare of a few weeks.
Worst job? I had a boss who on a daily basis went to our timecards next to the punch out clock (in 1998 mind you) and berate employees for being 1-2 minutes late in the morning. Then he'd have HR send written notifications to those late more than twice. He also was excessively neurotic about lunch hours as well. You had to address him as Mr. Blahblahblah not as Steve, He demanded total silence when he spoke and even got mad at someone for answering a question he asked.
I left after being berated once for lateness (2 minutes) and then told for my punishment I had to stay an extra 30 minutes that night to think about what I did (I can't make this up). I spent it sending out resumes and caught a temp gig the next day. I never went back. When my recruiter who got me in there called a day or so later he told me they weren't surprised I left. I told that clown on day 1 to get me out of there. Needless to say from what I heard through the grapevine, that recruiter barely lasted another year in IT recruiting and Mr. Blahblahblah was fired and arrested for embezzling from there.
So, I used to do tech support for a satellite radio provider...hate talking on the phones/call centres. Was introduced to someone at a technology networking event who was hiring for an "IT Assistant" role for a tech company. Awesome, I get to get off the phones and work with my hands and interact with actual people and it was a little bit of a bump in pay (which was still absolute dirt), but it was an "assistant" role. So I figured take the low pay, get awesome hands on experience and hopefully be able to get a promotion. Well it took me less than 3 months to realise these bastards were just absolute dirt bag people who cut every corner possible. Including hiring an "assistant" to actually be a system admin. I handled everything from the ordering of ALL IT related equipment, administering and maintaining our VoIP phone system, deploying and repairing PCs, laptops and mobile phones,handling our corporate verizon account, setting up secure mail on all company issued mobile phones through that account bla bla bla.
Being newish to the industry, I got curious one day and did a little research for average pay in similar roles in my area. Come to find out, my company was paying me about 20K less than people in similar roles. Thank you internet. I printed out tons of documentation, detailing what I did day to day and comparing that to duties of roles with higher pay. Took everything to HR and told them that it was unacceptable. They come back and are super positive, "You know, we looked this over, and we agree, you do a lot for the company. So we are gonna talk it over with ownership and get back to you in a few weeks" Mmmk. I knew better. I hit the job search hard and everything worked out hilariously. So about two weeks after they said two weeks. I have a meeting with the VP of operations, and after talking it over, they were super excited to tell me they approved my raise...of three thousand dollars. What?? You're paying me around 20K less, minimum 15K. I was blown away.
I went back to the IT lab, stewed for like 20 minutes, and put in my 2 weeks. They FLIPPED out. As it happens, I had a job interview scheduled for the next day with a large, well known insurance company for a Senior IT Analyst role. I get back from the interview and my company wants to have another meeting. They are gonna give me more money. Awesome...6 thousand more total. Lol. I get a call that afternoon that the insurance company wants to offer me the role paying DOUBLE what I was currently making and want me to start ASAP. I quit that day. They had the nerve to ask me to finish out my 2 weeks instead. Its really satisfying that I quit 4 months ago and they still havent filled my former role, aka they are still low balling the shit out of people hoping to get someone desperate into the position. I wish them nothing but the worst.
I work for a service/sales shop in a small town. We're small, only 6 employees, but we're always busy. I'm the Apple/printer guy. Customer calls, there printer is making a very loud noise. I ask if it's a inkjet or a laser. They say laser. I ask if it's a grinding noise or a high pitched squeal. it's the squeal. I tell them it's most likely the toner cartridge, and they should change it to see if that clears up the issue. They said the already had, and it didn't fix it. Then they said it was the only printer in the office, they had o run checks later, it can't go down, please come fix it right away!
Well, sure, I can do that. I wasn't happy about it as it was a 150 mile round trip, and I'd most likely have to order a part and go back, but it's what I get paid to do, so off i went.
I get there and run a test page. Boy, that noise really sounds like a toner....
And looky there, a brand new, unopened toner, right next to the printer. So I open it and replace the toner. I run a test page and wouldn't you know it? The noise was gone! I showed the customer and their response was, "Oh, that's the toner?" I was going to ask what they thought the toner was, but after working this field for so many years, I don't care anymore. All I know is it was 3 hours of driving for a 2 minute fix. That they should have done themselves.
And, sadly, that's not the only time I've done that. just the most extreme. In the 15 years I've been with my current employer, I bet I've gone onsite at least 50 times to fix a printer when all it needed was a new toner.
Before you all say this doesn't sound so bad, it really isn't. but if I were to tell you all my worst horror story, you'd all run away in fear and never return. (it involves running cable through an attic with brick walls, no flooring, and waist deep insulation). It's still to traumatic to go into detail on. (did you know birds get into attics and die? Lots of birds).
Not exactly the worst IT job ever, but very weird nonetheless.
Onsite for a client (who happened to be a female, about 10 years older than I) hooking up an arcane piece of equipment to the back of the computer. Said client wanted to 'observe what I was doing.' The chair was REAL close as I was lying on my stomach working, but I had room, so no big deal. I did, however, notice that she had a LOT more interest in what I was doing than normal.
At one point I had to reach up and grab what I thought was the toolcase I needed. I brought it down and realised it was...a very dog-eared copy of "Fifty Shades of Grey." Looked at her...and she gave me one of those slow winks. O_o
Head of campus computer lab asked me to help a student get in touch with the non-existent tech support for freeware software. Refused to take my explanation of "It doesn't exist." She then refused to speak to me for the rest of the term, and fired me at the end due to "Disrespect." Her final statement as I walked out the door? "Now don't be a stranger!"
I worked for an alcoholic who couldn't read. Somehow, despite himself, he ran a somewhat successful IT company. Working for him was absolute hell. He would follow me when I went on service calls to make sure I wasn't screwing off on the clock. He always mispronounced and misused words. It was horrendous working for such an idiot. One time he asked me how to spell the word 'team'. I told him, "Well there ain't no fucking I in it". Needless to say I found a better place to work.
For the most part, I've been happy in my career. I had about 10 years at a major telecom company in the early days of consumer internet, and it was glorious. I got lots of training, experience in new tech, and was responsible for every function pertaining to corporate internet facilities. I truly felt I had earned my pay, and I felt recognised for my work.
After the dotcom crash of 2001, of course, everything changed. With a disbanded group, and companies everywhere laying off or going belly up, I moved to another state.
I'm doing plenty of good contract work, but you know, for us more mature IT people, permanent positions are like unicorns.
The one really bad thing about contract work, is that employers seem to be more callous about you. If they want you gone, sometimes they just can't come out and tell you you're gone, they feel they have to have a reason to let you go.
After four years at a very large hospital/medical school complex, there was a change in management. I was called at home on Friday after 6. I was told that the manager of three days found me unmanageable, uncooperative, and that I was impossible to work with, and that I was not to come in Monday.
It turns out that they really just wanted to get rid of everyone that "made too much money", and replace with $US12 an hour kids.
Since I was in the middle of several big projects, suddenly there was a lot of questions everybody had. For sanity, I went to another contracting firm, and put these guys on email and phone block.
I've been happy with the new company for 5 years now, and not at a loss for work.
i accidentally opened tumblr when my phone was in my pocket on my first day at work. IT department called my boss and i was fired for NSFW porn blogs i was following. them mf's were all over that shit.
A user got a computer upgrade, a shiny new Mac in all of its awesomeness! So we find out that the user didn't really clean off her desk/made us do the re-arranging for her while she sat and waited for us to finish.
I picked up a jar that I thought was sealed (to move it out of the way) and the water splashed on my hands.
That wasn't water...She casually said, oh that was a tumour that had been removed from her abdomen... no big deal eh?
She kept that thing in a loose-lid glass jar in some sort of weird-smelling preservation fluid (maybe mineral oil or something similar)
Ick Ick Ick!
I had to keep very calm outside even though I was freaking out inside.
When I was able to escape her office and walk out without throwing up, I immediately scrubbed my hands many times to clean off the stuff.
I'm only slightly scarred from the encounter. Health and Safety would have been rather cross, and now I know, be very careful when moving glass jars with liquid in them.
Moving jars of preserved tumours should never be part of anyone's IT job description -- or anyone's anything anywhere. Your stories told tales of terrifically awful situations, and demonstrated a level of personal patience and fortitude that might be unmatched in any other industry. If you have more to tell, let us know in the comments. Now excuse me while I go wash my hands in sympathy.
This article originally appeared on Gizmodo Australia