1/5/13

Happy New Year. Now get out.

Thursday should have been a Monday.  Why? Because I work in IT, all the bad things at my job usually happen on Mondays. That's the first day all the users pound on the system you installed or upgraded over the weekend, and if something is going to fail under load, it fails around Monday at 9am.  It makes for a fun start to the week.  It's also the day that I seem to do more than my fair share of  stupid shit, probably because night guy screwed morning guy and I ended up getting about 4 hours of sleep.

So back to Thursday.  I'm currently in the final stages of installing some new "appliances" - which is a fancy way of saying "servers that won't let you touch the operating system."  They are basically headless computers that sit in refrigerated racks in a secure data center -- headless meaning they have no screens and no keyboards.  Everything you need to do, configuration wise, you can do remotely over the network. 

Or at least that's the way it's supposed to happen after the initial installation and setup.  I could go into a long and boring story about how on Monday I copied the configuration from one machine to the other to "save some time," but forgot to edit the file first, and therefore inadvertently copied the ip address of the first machine over top of the second and cut my remote access off at the knees, but for the sake of the non-geeks reading this, I won't. Even though I sort of just did.  Anyway, the short version is I bricked the machine and needed to get into the data center to stand in front of the server with a cable and my laptop and fix my stupid mistake.

I decided the day to do this would be Thursday afternoon, since I had no meetings and I figured it would take me maybe an hour or so, tops.  To get access, there are a few hoops to jump through, so I jumped, filled out all the right request forms, got the secure ID badge -- and at the approved time,  I grabbed my laptop, borrowed some cables and headed in.  I don't particularly like going in there because it's both hot and loud.  It's the noise of thousands of power supply and cabinet fans going full speed, and when you add the rumble of the air conditioning units, it sounds like you're sitting inside of a jet engine.  The server racks are individually air conditioned, but they blast warm air out the back, so the whole place is about 80 degrees.

I found my server and sat down on the floor and jacked into the management port on the back.  About 30 minutes into the job, I realized that the large glass of water I had consumed at lunch was knocking, and I had to pee.  I decided I could just hold it and finish up, because I figured I only had one more setting to change, then a reboot and verification, and that shouldn't take more than about five minutes.  It would take me longer than that just to get through the security labyrinth and out to a bathroom and then back in again, so I just continued working.

At the exact second I entered the reboot command, I thought I heard something.  It took me a moment to make it out, but I finally realized that what I was barely able to hear above the jet-engine noise of the data center server racks was the automated building alarm announcing, "THERE HAS BEEN AN EMERGENCY REPORTED IN THE BUILDING" interspersed with a loud "WHOOOOOOP!" noise, repeating about every five seconds.  All of this, of course, in combination with flashing strobe lights at every exit.

This alarm dictates an immediate emergency evacuation of all personnel.

I thought about just staying put. I really did.  For about five seconds I sat there, thinking, "It's just a scheduled drill. Nobody will miss me."  Then I thought about how it was 20 degrees outside, and they probably wouldn't schedule a system test unless it had been warmer since everyone had to stand outside for 15 or 20 minutes until they sounded the all-clear.  I decided there was maybe a .5 percent chance that it was a real emergency and since I didn't want to die in an exploding fireball of server parts, I stood up and walked toward the exit.  It was then that I realized two things simultaneously -- one, my coat was back at my desk, so this was going to be extremely unpleasant, and two,  I really, REALLY needed to take a piss.

There was no way I was going to stand outside in the cold for 15 minutes with no coat and a full bladder,  so I did what any responsible evacuee would do:  I headed toward the stairwell with the rest of the evacuating throng, and then when nobody was looking, I took a detour into the men's room.

I knew I needed to do my business, wash up and re-join the evacuation as quickly as possible, so suffice to say it was the lightning round, and I was in a hurry.  In the midst of the flashing lights and the noise, (yes, they even have them in the bathrooms) I quickly claimed a station, unbuckled, unbuttoned and unlimbered, then started a marathon piss.  About 10 seconds in, I knew something had gone very wrong.

I looked down and realized that in my haste, I had neglected to sufficiently secure all obstacles from my pee-path.  I was pissing directly onto my shirt tail, which had managed to flop itself down into the danger zone while I wasn't looking.  I know, I know, I shouldn't have looked away, even for a second, because you never know what those things are up to,  but in my defense I was distracted by a siren and a robot voice telling me I was going to die with my crank out.  I pulled my shirt out of the way with my free hand, said a few choice words, and finished up.  In retrospect, dying in a fireball of server parts probably wouldn't have been so bad.  It was infinitely better than dying in a dirty men's room covered in my own pee.

Luckily, since everyone else in the building was in the process of avoiding their own death, there was nobody around to witness what came next.  I waddled over to the sink, holding my shirt away from me, and washed the offending tail as quickly as I could.  This may have been a bad idea.  Now, instead of having about three inches of pee-soaked shirt, I had about six inches of water-soaked shirt.  I gave it a half-assed swipe with a paper towel and tucked it into my pants, along with some fresh paper towels to absorb whatever liquids were left.  Walking like I had a stick up my ass, and glancing down at my crotch every five seconds to make sure there wasn't any inadvertent leakage, I opened the door to the men's room and rejoined the exodus.

Let me tell you, it was damned cold outside.  And of course, the second I stood still, Annoying Guy immediately made eye-contact and started walking in my direction to talk about inane shit like how cold it was outside. Unfortunately I had to be a little rude.  I just pretended I didn't see him and turned and walked in the opposite direction, hoping he wouldn't follow.  Luckily, he didn't.  My crotch was wet and I had no coat, so I wasn't in the mood.

Under the guise of trying to stay warm, I avoided everyone and stood with my back to the crowd, facing the sun and trying not to shiver too much because I was afraid a paper towel would fall out of my pant leg. Fifteen minutes later, we got the all-clear.  Turns out one of the guys working on the HVAC system had set the alarm off by mistake.  We piled back into the building and I went directly back to the data center where nobody would notice me or my wet crotch, and finished getting the server online.  Since it wasn't a Monday, the thing actually worked.  Also, you'll be happy to know, there was no leakage.  I was a little surprised when I found a paper towel in my pants at bedtime, but I probably shouldn't have been.

So now you know the story.  Really, this entire post could have been summed up by a tweet saying, "Hey guys. Sorry if I smelled a little like pee on Thursday."

I'm pretty sure nobody reads blogs anymore, but just in case, I'm glad you still check back once in a while.

Oh, and happy new year!  If you start out by peeing on yourself at work, it can only get better from here, right?

 Right?

Dear god, someone tell me I'm right.

--------------------------

ps - I have been wanting to mention this -- my buddy Dave finally got his book out on the kindle and for a limited time, it's only .99 cents.  Check it out if you're looking for a story about vampires that don't sparkle in the sun and have cool hair.  I did some proofing on an early copy, and I liked the story and learned a ton about Jehovah's Witnesses.  (Yes, they are as creepy as you thought they'd be.)

47 comments:

  1. Of course some still read blogs. It's the only way to get stories.

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  2. I sure as hell hope it only gets better.

    Although it does make for a fun story :)

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  3. Anonymous2:22 PM

    And you are. as always, hilariously funny. Thanks for sharing this story. It made me laugh out loud several times. Happy New Year.

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  4. Anonymous2:27 PM

    I saw the alert, but never thought to myself, "I wonder if JV is covered in his own pee..."

    -E w/a K

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    1. Ha! Just assume next time.

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  5. Anonymous2:44 PM

    Lucky for your pride you still show up on my RSS. If I knew you in person I'd be giving you all kinds of shit.

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    1. It's not pride, it's just sadness that the long form of communication in general is going by the wayside. Hell, I barely write them anymore, let alone read them. It's all about instant communication today

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  6. Anonymous2:55 PM

    Pee beats poo. Hands down.

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  7. Yes, you are right, and it can only get better from here. Of course, I still read blogs. But only the funny ones. You are on the short list.

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  8. Literally laughed out loud and scared my cat. But you are so freakin' funny I couldn't help it. Your posts are always a highlight for me. Keep 'em up.

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  9. you do indeed live an interesting life...you just got it like that.

    you are a funny, funny man.

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  10. The zipper on my fly caused a thumb-over-the-garden-hose display once. Not fun.

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    Replies
    1. what about the unexplained double stream? Those are fun, too.

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  11. As we say in Boston, that was a wicked pissah story.

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  12. You're still on my list as well. I'm thinking about trying to blog again but I just don't have funny stories anymore since I stopped going to karaoke. There's just something about watching drunk girls dancing with ketchup.

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  13. Oh my you do get yourself in some pisser situations. A new post from you is like finding an overlooked ice cream bar in your freezer or a brownie in back of the fridge - such a treat. Please don't stop blogging just because everybody else tweets, twits or twats. We readers have such a good time at your expense. Love ya and wishes for a great 2013 - it can ONLY get better from here. lorraine

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    1. Thanks Lorraine! I usually have freezer burn, so apologize in advance.

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    2. Helenann10:28 AM

      I agree with you totally Lorraine... :)
      It is thoroughly refreshing to read JV's posts 1) because they are funny quite often and 2) since laughter is good for one's health it could be considered a form of self-care to do so and 3) it's reassuring to hear that I'm not the only person on the planet who has little 'accidents' at work that when a person is somewhat absentminded as I've ALWAYS been can be so awkward to deal with socially speaking. Best wishes for a wonderful 2013 ... :)

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  14. What you really need is a job like mine. I work in a veterinary clinic, and so I smell like pee at work more often than I don't. (Of course it is not my own pee, but still...) I am not a superstitious person at all, but it really does seem like shit happens in waves, and not just one incident at a time.

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    1. Chris, do you express anal glands? If so, you are a better man than I. I do believe the animal would pass from this earth before I would do that. I paid my vet $35 for that once, and it was worth triple that.

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  15. Anonymous1:46 PM

    We still read your blogs, man; gold is still being struck with the content

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    1. Well, thanks. Good to know I'm not pissing into the wind.

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  16. I swear, I've had days just like that. We work in the same industry, obviously, and it seems like for the past two months I've been the "I need a server stood up by tomorrow, and oh, configure the super massive and give me the initial reports from it by COB." And I'm left wondering "physical or virtual, um, a name? How about letting me know which OS"? And get back "virtual, R2 is fine, use the R310 in SW3, and I'll email the name". Then only to discover the software to ride on R2 doesn't like 64-bit, won't talk to the network if it's a VM, and oh yeah, the SM won't let me in because one of the vendor's engineers remotely changed the password and didn't tell us, the fricking customer. I have yet to pee on my shirt, but I've come close!

    Peace <3
    Jay

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    1. Jay, just reading that made me pee.

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  17. Anonymous8:21 AM

    At least you didn't sneeze while taking a pee. God only knows where it's going to go, then.

    And yeah, when the tech guys have the server room open, it sounds like a hurricane coming out of that door.

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  18. Hilarious story (per usual). I'll try to check back more frequently. :-)

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    1. I will try to write more frequently.

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  19. When people comment on blogs that they spit coffee on their monitor laughing, I ALWAYS assume this is an exaggeration. I can tell you, though, that I actually did laugh out loud when I read that you peed on your shirt, and I involuntarily turned my head away from the computer as if to protect it if I did happen to laugh hard enough to spit my coffee out.

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  20. Oh my God, this post is a gift from heaven. I have had a craptastic day so far and badly needed a laugh, and as always, you have provided. I can summon a smile on my face tonight just thinking about your predicament! :-) I am also looking forward to sharing this with my IT-guy pal at work. He can explain all the geek speak to me and will also totally sympathize with you.

    For the record I have a) pee'd on myself (more than once, Girl Scout backpacking in the woods) and b) expressed anal glands. Yessir. Used to be a vet tech. That, and processed many a cat/dog fecal sample. Did I mention I'm "good with bad smells?"

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  21. P.S. Johnny, I'm willing to bet there are a lot of people, myself included, who will find this world a colder place if you stop writing. I say that with all sincerity and a lump in my throat. PLEASE don't quit blogging. You bring much joy and laughter and pathos and honesty and you have a gift. You ARE heard, and we think you're terrific.

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    1. I think blogs are dead, but I plan to write as long as it amuses me, and I'm easily amused, so no worries there! Thanks for the kind words.

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    2. Anonymous10:55 AM

      RiderWriter took the words right out of my heart, too!
      For some people who have unusual work schedules as I do as well as a scarcity of jovial people around them in either their workplaces or their commutes to their jobs you offer them some comic relief and online social solace in what is a otherwise bleak work life scenario. I used to work for a Fortune 500 company where there was a sense of cameraderie during the 1980s 1990s but now I work in a very different situation for a small company. So please know your words here are read and appreciated :)

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  22. This is one of the few times in my life I have been glad I have to sit down to pee (even if that doesn't guarantee piss-free clothing).

    I check your blog at least as often as I check Pinterest, and generally find more interesting stuff here, even when there's nothing new.

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  23. Anonymous1:48 PM

    Our office had a fire drill the day after I read your post... I couldn't stop laughing about the idea that it could have happened to one of the guys standing out in the crowd. Thanks for the laugh during the cold and rain!

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    1. Look for the guy avoiding everyone.

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  24. Happy New Year! It will definitely get better!

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  25. Anonymous3:11 PM

    I just discovered your funny blog via a friend's FB post. Fifteen minutes into reading it, and I've bought Dave's book and forwarded the squirrel story to Jenny the Bloggess. Strong work!

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    1. Thanks for stopping in! Always happy to hear about someone new with morals I can corrupt.

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  26. I worked for an alarm company once upon a time, and I'm sure you know most alarm panels wind up in the server room. On one particular job, I was working in the aforementioned hurricane room when an electrician came in looking for the breaker panel that, you guessed it, was also in the server room.

    Now, this company had only recently moved into the space. Like, within the last week, recently. They were installing the racks while I was working on their security system, and the IT guy, in his INFINITE wisdom, had stacked the servers on a table.

    A folding table.

    Right in front of the breaker panel.

    So, the electrician locates the panel and realizes he can't get to it because of the stack o' servers on the folding table in front of it. Mr. Electrician lifts one end of the table and swings it out of the way. No problem, right?

    Only thing was that the folding legs on the OTHER end of the table were not locked. So the legs folded under, that end of the table dropped, and the stack o' servers slid off the table and across the server room floor like they were on an ice rink.

    The IT guy came running into the server room and proceeded to SCREAM at the electrician that he had better PRAY there was no damage to the servers. The electrician replied very coolly, "It's not my fucking problem. You shouldn't have put your expensive servers on a cheap shit folding table."

    Since that day, I have repeated that as the Electrician's Mantra.

    "It's nooot my fuuuckinnng prooooblemmmmm."

    I really don't miss working in server rooms though.

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  27. Anonymous8:43 AM

    I guess the server room is the 21st century version of shovelling coal in the boiler.

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  28. Anonymous8:26 PM

    I will admit that 2013 has sucked a bit so far, but your blog makes me laugh. I'm surrounded by people at work with no sense of humor, so I on days I need a good laugh, I pull up your blog. Keep writing!

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  29. Anonymous8:26 PM

    omg, you made me laugh. seriously sir, you need to write more blog entries!! diane j

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  30. Anonymous5:47 PM

    Yes, people still do read blogs. And I really do enjoy yours. Thanks for writing!

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  31. Had to tell you, this post earned me a trip into our server room for the first time ever (five years). I sent it over to my IT buddy, as promised, and he LOVED it. Then he said, "C'mon, I'll show you!" It was pretty cool to be allowed in the Sanctum Sanctorum. I think you'd approve - there are three dedicated, enormous A/C units, a floating floor, a fire suppression system that cost like $50K, a vapor-locked door and lots of other goodies. I guess I was suitably impressed. :-)

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    1. Does your friend talk really loud all the time? You'll go deaf in that place if you work in there long enough.

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