Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ground Control

I wouldn't exactly say that I'm a control freak. I don't micro-manage my staff. I'm not a perfectionist. Good enough is good enough. But if I'm responsible for something, I need to have control over it, because any screw-ups involving that something will be on my head.

Before my workplace moved, I was responsible for a storage room. This room held all the crap that we couldn't fit anywhere else. Lots of old files, boxes, and a variety of other jazz. This room doubled as the "server room", i.e. it housed the Very Important Computer that the entire business depends upon. It also held all the hardware and wiring that composed the heart of our telephone system.

People were in and out of this storage room at their own whim. The old files were accessed too frequently and by too many people to make locking the door a useful option. So I had to put up with all the traffic, and all the idiocy that came with it.

For starters, people liked to dump junk in the room without informing me. They'd find some broken, dusty thingamajig that they weren't sure what to do with, and they'd just toss it into that room and forget about it. Nine times out of ten the thing was a piece of useless garbage, but the person handling it was afraid to throw it out in case they got in trouble. So instead of dealing with the situation by asking their supervisor, they'd throw it into my room. This drove me absolutely crazy. Eventually I posted a sign on the door warning people that they couldn't dump crap in there without my say-so. It said that if they did I would throw it out, if it was in the way of my authorized storage purposes. That was very cathartic.

People also used to "borrow" essential elements of my technical setup. A few times per year, I would come in and find that someone had yanked the mouse or the keyboard off the server to use on their own PC. This is not a nice way to treat the Very Important Computer that the entire business depends upon. I put a big sign in front of the computer, but people are often in too much of a rush to read a sign. When bits of the server went missing, I tore my hair.

One time someone heisted the portable sound system that was providing hold music for our telephones. I found it in this woman's office. Oh, said she, I just wanted to listen to some music while I did my typing. I didn't think anyone was using it.

This gave me pause for thought. She had to deliberately disconnect the sound system from all the wires connecting it to the big, fancy box on the wall with lots of other wires coming out of it, and it didn't once occur to her that perhaps this indicated a purpose? The fact that it was powered on at the time she approached it didn't trigger any doubts in her mind? Do these things indicate a condition of "storage" or perhaps one of "active use"? Gah.

Fortunately, in our new unit things have improved. The servers (of which we now have four) are in a big rack in their own room. The keyboard and mouse elements are tucked away so that random nosy people can't be tempted by them. The phone system is also in this off-limits room. But that doesn't mean that I have all the control that I want.

Just today, someone stole a chair out of my department. I had eight, and then suddenly I had seven. Someone just up and helped themselves. I don't understand this sense of entitlement that allows people to take anything in the office that appeals to them at any time. "Because I needed it"' isn't a good enough reason. It's not a freaking free-for-all. If you need something, ASK ME. Or even tell me, I'd settle for that. I'm right here, all the time, five days a week, catering to everyone's whims. All I ask is to be kept in the loop so that I don't have to run around the office searching for missing furniture.

Fortunately, the chairs in my department are upholstered with a slightly different fabric than most of the other chairs. I went marching around the place with a sample swatch in my hand, checking it against every chair. I found the chair in the office of a person who is currently engaged in a war with another professional over the ownership of a set of posters. They used to share an office, and now that they each have their own office they are taking turns stealing those posters off each others' walls. The manager of that department is going to buy an extra set of posters, but honestly. It's enough to make you go AAAAUUUUUUGGGGHHHHH!


Anonymous said...

Well, at least the server has its own room now. *Whew* for that! And chair theft should carry a fine to the stealing manager's budget. Or something.

Jameil said...

Uhh... you sound like a control freak. :)

Warped Mind of Ron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Warped Mind of Ron said...

You sound perfectly normal to me.... however the chair theft.... just thinking of it has my eye twitching and hands shaking... whew.... it would just not be a good day is all....

Claire said...

I love the idea of you marching along with the swatch - brilliant!


Anonymous said...

I love server rooms. Tiny cramped little rooms with super powerful computers and no matter how hot it was outside, it was always cool in that room.

Kate said...

They're fighting over posters? You're kidding me. Seriously? Buy your own dang posters.

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

By the sounds of it, you need babysitters at your place of work. Wow.

The one good thing about moving offices? It gives you an opportunity to evaluate and improve on how the business is run.

G said...

Definitely bites that other departments/people don't respect your department.

A neverending war that is always hard to win outright.

Can win the occasional skirmish, but the war is always an uphill battle.

Sparkling Red said...

darcknyt: I agree, there should be some consequences to these thefts. I believe that Public Humiliation would be most appropriate.

Jameil: Well, maybe just a little.

Ron: You and I, we see eye to eye on these things.

Claire: I felt very clever for having hung on to my fabric samples for just such an occasion.

wigsf: The budget ran low when we got to the end of the build, so we couldn't afford a dedicated A/C for the server room. Instead I leave the door open a little and have a big, plastic fan on a timer that runs on and off all day. The fan cost $24.99 at Home Depot. So we're not 100% high tech quite yet.

Kate: My thoughts exactly. Why is it always the people who make the most money who are the most petty?

Nilsa: Indeed! Our new space is infinitely better than our old space. The old space was constructed randomly. The new space was designed to function smoothly. It makes a huge difference!

G: People are people. They tend to do whatever they think they can get away with.

LL Cool Joe said...

Am I the only one that found this slightly scary? :D

"I went marching around the place with a sample swatch in my hand, checking it against every chair."

No, no, not a control freak at all. I live with one, so I have a little inside knowledge!!

Jenski said...

People don't act so grown-up when no one is watching.

I'm guessing you never found any cool valuable thing that no one claimed as their own so you could keep it in the room huh? :-(