August 20, 2010

Planet IT

I found myself in a bit of an 'IT' bind today at work. I needed access to a different company's systems and I had no idea how to make this happen. Previous permissions had already been granted, through far more paperwork than even President Obama was required to provide to run this country.

After exchanging some dang funny email with our newest IT guy, he told me I needed to come up to his place for him to fix it. I don't go to the 'IT' grounds much. I stick in my little cube of heaven on the first floor.

Stay close to home. No good can come from going to the third floor... HR is up there as well as the big boss. I'll stay grounded.

Folks, I am here to tell you, the folks who work in IT live a different life than the rest of us and it always makes me laugh.

If you go into my cube, I have a formal picture of Ringo in a tux, with his double bass, a drawing of Sponge Bob by Bones (it looks like a square piece of olive pizza to be honest), a picture of my three boys in NYC, and... a Chik-fil-A cow calendar. On the shelf I have a Castle Argghhh! coffee mug I keep all my pens, pencils, and whatnot in, a pink monkey holding a heart that says "Kiss me" (a gift from Bones) and a pink heart chocolate box (empty). Funnier still as I don't do pink, but there is a lot of pink in my cube.

If you were to lift open the credenza, you'd find stashed away my Alice in Wonderland mug (a gift from a gf who swears I have an amazing knack for falling down rabbit holes), my bowl and utensils, a box of raisins, a container of almonds, two boxes of hot tea (don't do the blueberry... it tastes funky and I think it turns my teeth bluish... that's attractive), and my lysol wipes.

That's my cube. If I could take a picture, if it were legal, I would. It is spartan, clean, and... has pieces of my life. Oh! And there is a round Run! Girl! Run! sticker from my marathon days. (I need something in my cube to remind me of that brief moment of freaky insanity...)

But my cube is like the others within my small office. My Tech Lead's has a great picture of his sleeping in his marital bed with his two kids playing all over him as if they are lion and cubs, a drawing of a princess, a picture of his son (a gift I believe), and a picture of he and some guys we know fishing.

My boss? Pictures of his grandkids, one of his wife, a big plant that The Greek takes care of, and a picture of Air Force One signed by the then President (my boss used to be on AF1's crew).

My gf across from me has pinned to her wall a pencil picture cut out of a woman holding a long blade, as if she's a warrior, courtesy of Bones. He even put blood on the blade. He said it's showing how she has to get with the rest of us to keep us in line. (She does... have to keep the rest of us in line.) Pictures of her kids (grown), her dog, a crystal clock, and flowers (The Greek brings her tiny weeds flowers and she sometimes puts them in a pill bottle on her desk.)

We are nothing but thoughtful class in my group.

In all honesty... we are a big family... there are 7 of us and we're a whacky, laughing, dysfunctional group. We're also known to be hard working and have our own reputations. My reputation is a bit more hard a$$ed than everyone else's. Surprise. I've heard our blade wielding coworker warn someone off once, "Someone already pissed her off today. Watch your step!" But we take on the big projects. We are the big stress. Everyone knows it.

Our cubes are a bit of an extension of our personalities... bits of home we've been able to eek out into the most stressful 8-10 hours we live. We ALL know each others families, children, spouses. We are a big family.

So now you have the picture.

IT guys... dang. It doesn't matter where you go, this is what I've found.

So I walk into Jim Cantore's cube (his nickname here because he looks like Jim) and it's a big double cube he shares with another IT guy.

Jim is on one of those wireless phone headsets that all IT folks have. I have an old fashioned phone... thankfully not dial. I don't even have caller ID, which I KNOW the IT gurus have because not one of them ever say, "Hello?" they always answer with a knowing "Hey" when I call. (I've not decided if that's a good thing or not yet...)

Anyway, so he's on the wireless headset, talking to some IT guy at the other company that I'm trying to get hooked to, and I pull up a seat and start to look around.

No personal pictures at all. NONE.

I start looking for little plastic people. IT folks are notorious for having little crazy plastic cartoon characters on their monitors. I know what their cubes look like.

No personal effects.

It's all... pieces of old computers, hard drives, fans, computer crap I don't recognize, a big plastic bin with some old phones that look like mine, stacks and stacks of paper, books on computer languages and systems and rules, coffee mugs that give some inkling as to their favorite past time, like fishing, that look as if they need to be washed, and yellow sticky post it notes and half sheets of paper with notes to themselves scattered all over.

In essence... going into the cubes if our IT guys is a combination of walking into some sort of cyber mechanic's garage and the absent minded professor's office.

And it ALWAYS... absolutely ALWAYS... cracks me up.

Broad strokes with that brush... I know... but this is pretty much what I know.

They're always on their phone or out fixing something at someone else's desk and dang if their cubes don't reflect it.

Posted by Boudicca at August 20, 2010 07:27 PM

***Hangs head ****

If I worked in a cube it would probably look like that. LOL.

Posted by: Teresa at August 20, 2010 11:17 PM

I have sticky notes all over my cube. If something needs to be done I write in on a note and stick it to my desk. As the task is completed the note gets thrown out, a very effective task completion system.

My desk has pictures of my dogs (of course) and lots and lots of defective parts that people bring to my desk to figure out what is wrong with them.

I use to keep a lot of personal stuff at my desk, but do the walk of the unemployed shame a couple times and you learn to keep it light.

Posted by: Quality Weenie at August 21, 2010 08:07 AM

Teresa- I know! And VW's desk was this way too. It cracks me up.

QW- Actually, the walk of shame is one of the reasons my cube is so sparse. I can fit everything I need to take home in a shoe box. And yellow stickies are my friend, but I have this big manager boss who HATES them... HATES them... to the point I think he needs therapy. We can't have them visible on our desk, like pinned to our wall would be a bad thing. At the end of the day, all yellow stickies can't be visible. Makes me wonder if he knows someone who died some tragic, 'Death by a 1000 cuts with a yellow sticky". What a whack.

Posted by: Bou at August 21, 2010 09:06 AM

When you have spent as much time on the phone fixing everyone else's screwups and had to cancel vacations because of deadlines you had nothing to do with setting and spent hours tracking down what someone did to get to the point in the process where they were and then more hours figuring out how to get them straightened out, then you will know why IT people don't have much personal stuff on their desks. I was in that line of business for over 40 years and I can tell you that even when we are very close to our co-workers we just do not have the space for personal things.

Posted by: dick at August 21, 2010 03:00 PM

.... been there and done that.... and never, EVER want to go back again........ EVER...

Posted by: Eric at August 21, 2010 08:21 PM

The beauty of being retired. My buddy calls me about his problems with the contract he is on at SSA and the more he tells me the happier I am that I am retired now and don't have to deal with it any more. I spent years being the Mr Fixit for everyone. I am tired of it.

Posted by: dick at August 22, 2010 01:52 PM

Stickies rule.

My office: P-51 on a stand on the shelf. 2 photos of the love of my life. Opposite wall, a drawing a Korean with 3 Ph.D drew as my seatmate on a flight to SFO, signed and gave it to me. Pure art of a farmer walking down a typical Korean valley.
The guitar playing 5 year old wearing her Christmas day having a blast and one drawing of that one from her mom looking up in wonderment. (Christmas picture.) None of us go spare in our offices or cubes.
I use the prayer rug in my bathroom as I always have [to collect toothpaste] but a colleague uses his as a doormat in his office.

I've always wondered that IT types didn't buy into buying gigantic dogs with extremely long toenails to patrol the buildings after dark all alone. Ripping and rendering as they saw fit. Seems a matched pair really.

Posted by: Curtis at August 24, 2010 09:57 PM