If you want a job done right, don't send the boss

An IT boss sets out smart, workable plans for a company's cabling job -- then leaves a seasoned techie to take up the slack

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When the team returned, they reported connectivity between the buildings and were ready to have workstations installed.

The following week I drew the short straw to travel, and since it was "just a few workstations to install," I was dispatched alone. I often get mocked as I load a company van for a job, since I pack all my tools plus spares for almost any contingency. This trip was no exception.

A nasty surprise

When I arrived at the location, I was dismayed to see both rack-mounted fiber optic patch panels laying on the floor at either end. My first thought was to let them stay; if it was good enough for them, it was fine with me. But it looked sloppy, so I decided to mount them in the racks.

I succesfully mounted the panel in the warehouse rack, then proceeded to the office building to do the same. Making sure I had sufficient slack, I picked up the panel and lifted it to the correct height -- then something hit my leg. I looked down, and there was the fiber cable lying on the floor, no ends attached whatsoever. My boss and the other techie probably had achieved connectivity when they tried it, but they hadn't done the job thoroughly or securely. Needless to say, I was fuming.

The cable should have been secured inside the panel by the Kevlar cords that run the length of the cable to add strength -- but it hadn't been. Even if the Kevlar had not been secured, the fiber shouldn't have been pulled out of the connection ends when I raised the panel. Also, if they had installed ends on a second pair of wires, which we might not have needed after all, I could have used them. But they did not have a spare pair ready to go, despite what we'd agreed to.

As I realized how much supposedly completed work was ahead of me, my frustration intensified. Though fiber splicing has become so much "easier" over the years, they had failed at that. It's not rocket science, but please be meticulous.

I tried to put it out of my mind and spent the next several hours redoing connections. It was tedious work, as I had to duct tape a light source to the warehouse rack while I used the handheld microscope to view the fiber end, then reversed the process. Eventually, the connections were properly secured in both panels.

I finished installing the workstations and returned to headquarters. My boss asked me how it went, and I tried to tactfully find a way to describe the mess I'd found. He shrugged it off, saying it was a good thing I was able to fix it.

Frustrations aside, I was glad that I'd loaded the van with all my tools. I had the equipment on hand even though the situation was unexpected. I just wish that I'd packed an additional tech.

Send your own IT tale of managing IT, personal bloopers, supporting users, or dealing with bureaucratic nonsense to offtherecord@infoworld.com. If we publish it, you'll receive a $50 American Express gift cheque.

This story, "If you want a job done right, don't send the boss," 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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