Here you will see a prime example of the stupid leading the blind leading a pull-toy....
In my e-mail box:
From: HELP DESK
To: Olsen, Jason
Sent: 9/6/01 6:10 PM
Subject: Ticket Number 25360
Ticket number 25360 has been assigned to you.
Priority Level: Medium (call within 4.5 business hours)
Date Written: 2001-09-06 17:08:18
User Name: [MATERIAL REDACTED]
User Phone: [MATERIAL REDACTED]
User Department: Systems
User states that they are able to view the internet fine but they are
unable to browse the Web. They have rebooted the server and are still
having this problem. He would like to have the firewall settings looked
The user has been informed that you will contact them within the allotted
time allowed for this ticket's priority level. Please make every effort
to do so.
Yep, you can positively bet I'm going to contact them within 4.5 hours when the ticket was assigned an hour after my shift ends, with a problem like "I can view the internet fine but am unable to browse the Web. Rebooted the server and still having the problem." Yeeeeeeep. Getting' right on it. Any time now, gonna get to work on that one. Mmmhmm. Yessiree, coming up on it real soon.
Somebody, please, somebody explain this ticket to me. I beg of you, make it make sense!
This is my hell, people. Envy me.
Now for story time: Way back in the day, I started working for the campus this ticket originated from. I started attending school in November 1996, and also started working as a part-time student assistant, learning the ways and the hows and the whos of UNIX, IP routing, E-mail, firewalls and more. Overall it was a very educational experience for me, and I owe a deep debt of gratitude and copious amounts of thanks to Eric Lambert, who was at the time the UNIX and Internet Administrator for the school, and the individual responsible for hiring me. He provided me with experiences I never would have actually gotten in class, and an opportunity to get an inside track on a career that's seen me through these last five years and a number of raises and promotions. If this job taught me one thing, it's that in this field you never stop learning, there's always somebody who knows more than you, and never be afraid to ask for help. It's easier to ask for help and look a little silly then screw up some big project and look like a total waste of budget.
I also learned that for some reason people just love being bullshitted. Especially those in management, it seems. Right as I was getting to leave, the user who opened this ticket came on board with the staff. Actually, he's not a user, he's the campus "Network Manager,' a position that is supposed to be familiar with network design, troubleshooting, and other rudimentary tasks to keep all the data moving from point A to point B. He was all flash, talking about how he ran a training facility that taught Cisco and Microsoft and a billion other certifications. Always on the cell phone with "clients," the man exuded confidence and strength. Until you cornered him with a technical question. Then, suddenly, getting an answer out of him was more difficult than trying to stuff a marshmallow into a piggy bank. Simply put, it wasn't going to happen. It became rapidly apparent that this guy knew precisely dick about all the things he claimed to know, and I rapidly wrote him off. But he still had most of the other staff bamboozled, so they listened to every word he spoke with the rapt attention of a five year old on a camping trip, listening to uncle Ted tell the story of the madman who killed every camper on this VERY SPOT on this VERY NIGHT five years ago....
*ahem* Sorry, I got a tad distracted there.
Any ways, the point here is that I know the guy is about as clueful as a tank of septic sludge. That's not what bothers me. What is bothering me is that he just won't admit it when he screws up and is in over his head, or when he doesn't know something... his tactics also bother me. Now I know what you're thinking... you're thinking, Yeah, but he opened a helpdesk ticket! That's asking for help, isn't it? Yes, in most cases it would be, and I respect that. But, ladies and gentlemen, I draw your attention to the very last sentence under the problem description, the one that reads "He would like to have the firewall settings looked at." This isn't asking for help, this is his subtle way of telling me that since he can't figure out the problem and, since he can do no wrong, he's convinced himself it's the firewall that is to blame..thus removing any semblance of blame from himself and making sure it is my responsibility to fix it. Just like the last twenty-two (Count 'em, TWENTY-FUCKING-TWO) tickets he has opened, it is not the firewall. Each ticket he has opened, he was convinced the firewall was to blame. A great example is the cluster-fuck he and I went around and around on for over a month: he opened a ticket demanding I remove the firewall, because "it was responsible for the network congestion he's been experiencing for the three months since it was installed." Even when I showed him logs from the firewall, and broke them down into usage and analysis reports, and explained very patiently that all signs clearly were pointing to his network being stormed to death by DNS requests (because, for some reason, every PC in the entire school was issuing three DNS lookup requests per second)...I had all this evidence, and he completely ignored it! I had to send out a consultant from our Cisco partner, a man who commands over $2,000 per day, to make this twit "network manager' happy. Guess what? After three days of packet capture and analysis, the consultant told them the exact same thing I'd told them a month prior. Suddenly, they realize the problem isn't with the firewall, but instead with their crazy, misconfigured systems. Bravo, man. Truly, that's an astounding feat, wasting $6,000 of the company's money just to make sure the corporate Network Engineer isn't wrong. I'm only paid what I'm paid because I've demonstrated a boatload more know-how in the last four years.
It's times like that.. those are the times I really SAVOR being right, ever so much. I don't usually gloat, but I will tell you that I was smug for two days thanks to those results. I was vindicated. I think the last time I felt that good was when he called and opened a trouble ticket stating my firewall was suddenly blocking all access to the Internet... and then I found out both his T-1 lines to the Internet were down. I had to argue that particular issue with him, too... I must have spent an hour explaining that if, in fact, he can ping the campus router but can't ping its upstream peer, and I can ping the upstream peer but not the campus router (oh, yeah, and both DSUs were showing SIGNAL LOSS alarms) then maybe the problem is in fact not the goddamn firewall. But no, since he doesn't understand it and isn't allowed to touch it, the firewall is the first thing he blames. For some sick, twisted reason I have yet to fathom, the burden of proof that it isn't a problem with the firewall always falls to me. The burden of troubleshooting also always falls to me. I have to rebuke his insane claims with copious amounts of documentation, and then do his job for him, usually pinpointing it to something your average computer-savvy ten-year-old could have figured out. And this guy is thirty-six and "certified" in all these different network systems, and pulling down $45k or more a year?
Getting back on track, though... any ways, because this guy can't perform his basic job duties, I always get tickets that take forever to close and make me look bad. I'm at a loss. I'm about ready to tell the Help Desk to issue all his tickets to somebody else in my group, except I know that unless they go to Dan I'll just get sucked into the damn mess again. It's a sad, sick cycle that continues to perpetuate itself for some reason.
So tomorrow I will go in, check my firewall's up time to ensure he didn't power cycle THAT (since he says he power cycled something) and try to determine just what in the hell he means when he says he can access the internet but can't surf the web. I'll keep you posted on this cryptic issue, gentle reader. I'm sure we will discover, together, the horror that is the true problem....
I see a red door and I want to paint it black