As I sit down to write this I can’t decide on what order to lay out the talking points. Heck, I am not really sure what day it is. I know have to wear a face mask despite the fact I sit in an isolated dungeon in the middle of the office; my closest coworker is over 50 ft away and never leaves their office. I live and die by remote desktop, and the hum of the server fans is my only company when the phone isn’t ringing. I do love my job, my company and its culture are great, and I am thankful to be insulated from some of the hardships many humans are facing. Many of us are too humble to look for praise, but…
I have to report my temperature twice a day, and fill out a form listing any symptoms I may have experienced during the last 24 hours. Do people get regular sick anymore? Or is every allergy sniffle a sign of COVID-19 that invokes a mandatory isolation and proof of negative testing? How many times will they shut down the building for disinfection? This has got to be the cleanest time ever on the planet. I don’t even worry about the 5-second rule anymore, I ain’t wastin’ that Cheeto.
Feb 2nd, that was my last vacation day. No rest, no sick time, there is no respite from Microsoft updates. I have had to walk friends out of the office who were being laid off. I had to setup and deploy 20 new laptops in a week. I have had to hand deliver toner, files, mail, printouts, and other hardware to employees’ houses, all while keeping up regular maintenance. And the best part: we are now tasked to support a new feature in the daily operation of our networks — support calls at all hours from the working-from-home employees. All of the users who feel that with their office now in their living room, they are allowed to work their 40 hours whenever they can fit it in between kids, laundry, cooking, naps, and day drinking.
Everyone is out waving flags for the health care workers, handing out snack baggies at truck stops, and hugging grocery store stockers. In these time of an overabundance of caution everyone has made sacrifices and had to learn to roll with the ever changing proclamations. But the real heroes are being overlooked, just like every other day. OK, so traffic has been easier, and the parking situation is great with the building empty. But IT workers still get up at the crack of dawn to arrive at the office early and check systems before the employees arrive. We setup the Zoom rooms and type in the access codes users can’t remember to print, and come in on weekends to reboot servers for updates and maintenance. We still have to defrag databases, clean up input garbage, change printer toners, and restart locked up workstations. We are extra diligent in checking backups and monitoring the traffic on the internet connections. And lest we forget, the critical duty of managing system access and accounts for all those new and terminated employees that are coming and going. But finally, in the most magnanimous gesture of all, we are creating new documentation so the company can soldier on in case I get the ‘Rona and die.
Think about what the quarantine would look like if we were not here. What if your precious VPN went down? Who would import the daily virus testing data and update the websites? How would that nurse know what patient is in what room or when her next shift was going to start. How would that truck driver, forced onto a new route because of high demand, know where to go without their GPS, whose satellites require constant orbital adjustment to maintain accuracy? What would you do if your Cell phone network or home broadband got overloaded because some sales guy promised service to so many people that it would use 225% of the available capacity?
Have you thanked the ZOOM engineers who took a service with a maximum of 10 million daily users in 2019 and got it up and available to 200 million users a day by the end of March? And for the love of everything that is holy, can people learn to use the password manger we provide so I don’t have to reset logins that you wrote on a post-it and left on your monitor at the office?
Happy almost SysAdmin day fellow IT workers, we know we deserve it. No one else does.