I rang her back on her cellphone and asked her what happened when she tried to make a call. She said the phones had a dial tone and employees could buzz each other in the office, but they couldn't call out or receive incoming calls. She said she tried to dial her work phone from her cellphone, but couldn't get through.
I asked her if she made any changes to the phone system. She said she made some changes to call reports -- and thought that couldn't possibly affect the inbound/outbound calls. I told her I'd take a look. I logged in remotely via the VPN to check the phone system.
I used the built-in trace tool to find out how calls were being routed. As expected, calls between internal extensions didn't bring up any problems -- only calls dialed out or coming in. After doing basic hardware checks, I surveyed the software configuration of the system. A big section of the dial plan was missing, including how inbound/outbound calls were routed.
I called my boss back and explained what I had found. I told her that she must have accidentally deleted sections of the dial plan when she was in the system and asked if she had made a backup. She said no, because she was just "making changes to call reports" (so she said).
I told her I'd see what I could do to fix it as quickly as possible. After I ended the call, I rolled my eyes and sat for a few minutes to drink a glass of orange juice.
I retrieved the backup I'd made the previous Friday and restored it in less than 10 minutes. I rebooted the phone system with the restored dial plan, and the phone calls started working normally. To make sure I called Sheryl's work phone to tell her that the phone system was back to normal. She was very grateful and told me to take the next day off also.
Sheryl has never gotten into the phone/voicemail system again. Since this incident she has never asked to look around in any system to figure out how to improve things. One can hope she's learned her lesson, but you never know.
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This story, "Hello operator? A bumbling boss is on the line" 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.