The two sides of an IT admin: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Few professions have the propensity to go from normal to obscene as rapidly and thoroughly as IT does

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There are few things more frustrating than to be yanked out of your carefully constructed and relatively delicate mental process by a coworker or a vendor calling to see if you'd like to buy a bunch of servers. It should be legal grounds for homicide or at least a good beating.

"Well, officer, I was right in the middle of rearchitecting this particularly involved matching algorithm when Tim leaned on my cubicle doorway and started asking me if I was going to the company picnic next month and if I thought it would be OK to bring beer. And his girlfriend didn't want to go, and he was thinking that maybe she wasn't the one and ... I ... I just snapped and kicked him in the solar plexus."

"I see. Well, I don't think there's anything more to do here; we'll be taking Tim down to the station. You have a nice day."

When I try to communicate this to nontechies, I tell them to imagine that they're counting up a long string of numbers -- perhaps 100 random numbers in all. About three-quarters of the way through the list, someone comes up and starts talking at you about last night's episode of "Toddlers & Tiaras" at maximum volume.

Sadly, although there are ways to mitigate both sides of this phenomenon, there's no getting rid of it. We have to deal with the fact that at any time, on any day, we can be launched into the fire or out into space in full Dr. Jekyll mode. In between those occurrences, we can hedge our bets as best as we can as Dr. Jeckyll, monitor as many items as we can, and develop plans to deal with any crazy scenario our minds can envision -- and we still won't cover all the bases.

If you work in IT for a single company, you're aware of all this, but consultants who deal with a wide variety of clients know this in a much deeper and more painful way. When you're in the middle of one emergency call from a client, I'd wager that the odds of getting another emergency call from a completely different client increase by at least 50 percent. It's like magnetic attraction or the phases of the moon or something. Where one crisis exists, another wants to join in the fun. Maybe we should have a special corollary to Murphy's Law just for IT, because it sure seems he spends a fair amount of time there.

But it definitely makes for an interesting occupation, and it keeps you on your toes. Heck, as we work with computers all day long, maybe the excitement is good for us.

This story, "The two sides of an IT admin: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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