Company Casanova leaves trail of broken hearts, busted servers

The office Lothario is the most popular person in the company until his favors go too far -- and catch the president's attention

We in IT like to think we're superheroes, using our tech powers for good rather than evil to safeguard company security, increase worker productivity, and generally keep operations humming along. However, not everyone has such noble goals. Take, for instance, an aspiring Romeo I once worked with.

During the dot-com boom times, I worked in IT for a travel company. Within a year, the company almost doubled in the number of employees. The vast majority of these workers were reservation agents, mostly young women.

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For the few single guys who worked there, it was paradise. Being out of that demographic and happily married, I observed the ensuing romantic entanglements with amusement.

Office romance

My IT colleague, "Dan," wasn't exactly a dashing young bachelor. It would be safe to say that he was way out of his element. But what he lacked in looks he made up for in wit -- so it seemed. In fact, he was by far the most sought-after single male at the company and had a new "girlfriend" about every month. What was his secret?

As time went on, it became clear.

The agents' job was a not a fun one, since it required being on the phone about eight hours a day dealing with demanding travel personnel. Anything that would help make their job more bearable was always welcomed.

We had a decent IT budget and were able to acquire new technology on a fairly regular basis. But while I tried to dole out the newest computers, speakers, and software versions evenly based on need, it was obvious that Dan was assigning available technology based on other, ahem, criteria.

The president must have been aware of what was going on, but ignored it. And our IT boss looked the other way as he busied himself with the Y2K mitigation for our IBM AS/400. In short time, he called on me to help with a token-ring-to-Ethernet network migration, while Dan was left to desktop support and server admin. Little did we know the extent of Dan's system of tech perks while we worked carefully to perfect our migration plans.

The state of affairs

Shortly after we cut over to the Ethernet network, our sole T1 Internet line, which also hosted our mail and Web servers, came crashing down. Was it a telco issue, or was it some mistake in our Ethernet implementation?

We hurriedly put Ethereal on our network and, followed by client inspections, discovered the problem: More than half of our desktops were serving as Napster servers!

Dan had allowed his "girlfriends" to install the file-sharing software of the day, and the resulting traffic pegged out our seemingly boundless 1.544Mbps Internet connection, which we relied on for our hosted mail and Web servers as well.

Finally the company president took note of Dan's shenanigans when he couldn't get his Joke of the Hour emails to his inbox. Combine that with the revelation that Dan was secretly dating the president's 18-year-old daughter, and he was given his walking papers in record time.

While my boss and I were left to clean up the tech mess, Dan showed no remorse for how his favoritism played out. He quickly found another job with a startup and moved on several times under often mysterious circumstances. We couldn't help but wonder if he'd been playing the same games with his new co-workers.

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This story, "Company Casanova leaves trail of broken hearts, busted servers," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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