From the ridiculous to the sublime, reader tales cover the gamut of real-life IT experiences
It's no easy feat choosing the "best" of Off the Record. One tech's poison is frequently another one's honey. Who's to say which InfoWorld reader told a more amusing story? Who can determine which tale was more rife with snafus? The only thing everybody can agree on is that the more things change in this Dilbertesque working world, the more they stay the same. Clueless bosses, annoying coworkers, and incredible situations show up in the Off the Record posts weekly -- and never fail to entertain us.
Here's a sampler of the workplace insanity we enjoyed reading about this year. Go ahead -- try to decide which one is best.
Lame bosses. Irascible dictators and delusional oligarchs played a significant role in the stories submitted, which surprises just about nobody. Who can resist the allure of talking smack about bosses who can't defend themselves? Especially when they deserve it. From micromanaging maniacs to former soldiers, IT sees its share of irritating leadership.
Maybe the most egregious errors come from bosses who don't know much about technology and wouldn't know a good idea if it kicked them in the head. Several of them seem unable to grasp the concept behind passwords and the need to keep them private. Imagine the mayhem when management says pourquoi pas to galvanic corrosion in the datacenter and deliberately deceptive databases?
And how often do these people get promoted for making life miserable for those around them? More often than anyone acknowledges, according to some reader comments. Apparently, even stealing office equipment isn’t enough to merit dismissal for some of these big shots.
Unforgettable coworkers. From the newbie on the night shift to the overworked junior tech, the people who get the work done command respect as often as they inspire exasperation. Sometimes they tell overblown lies and sometimes they are downright delusional. Nobody ever said having all your marbles was a prerequisite for working in IT.
Friendships are formed in the workplace, and wherever there is friendship, can betrayal be far behind? When a smooth-talking ladder climber gets a coveted promotion or a coding assignment has to be dumbed down so as not to overshadow that of the boss's favorite employee, tempers are bound to flare. Being a scapegoat for a previous employee's mistakes is no fun, either. But the worst cut of all comes when a coworker waits for your most vulnerable moment to pounce on the job you had your eye on.
Lest you believe that strange coworkers limit their craziness to the work at hand, divest yourself of this notion immediately. Keep your eyes open: the guy in the next cubicle might worship some charismatic cult leader, and that ruckus in the server room could very well be the restless soul of a deceased former employee.
D'oh! Everybody makes mistakes, but geeks enjoy learning from theirs. From ancient wiring to mysterious blue monitors, every situation stands to become an educational opportunity. Techies chuckle as heartily at themselves as they do at their users, and they simply love problem solving -- even if they are responsible for the problem.