Photo by Simon Matzinger on

    Snow. Incessant* snow.  Incessant, miserable* snow.  Looking through the windshield driving coastal Maine that November, heading south after a two-month stunt at a computer center in Nova Scotia, all I saw was big, fluffy, Courier-and-Ives flakes weighing a pound and a half each, piling up on the windshield faster than wiper blades plowed them off.  When I started driving, I saw lovely green pine trees out the windows either side.  That quickly became a thick white blanket.  To make matters worse, I knew the temperature would drop way below freezing really fast and that fluffy, wet sludge* would become sheet ice.
    Nothing on the radio but static.  I supposed everyone up there went to bed at eight in the evening – no need to stay up when tomorrow would kick your butt* out of bed before sunup to tend animals or take the boat out to harvest what you could in the short bit of daylight.  Those days the sun did come up.  Watch the news.  Send an email.  Go to bed. No audience, I guess, no reason to air a radio program.  Aye-yuh.  Nobody got insomnia?  Ah-nowe.
    “Stunt.” That’s right.  Not “stint.”  Some North Carolina home-office sales doofus* figured our Canadian client had major problems and before escalating to let a software idiot net-in and scope things out, promised Canada we’d have someone on-site for two months to get things set right.  Two pointless* months.  It was a sales stunt – a sales VP anxious to protect our first international install.
    Misfortune found me visiting New Hampshire family when panic struck. Brass could cancel my vacation and have me drive to the customer facility faster than they could free-up and jet another qualified tech out.  It was a long drive.  A ferry ride I’d sooner have not made.  With no time to check into a local inn, no time to rest, no dinner, client Sysadmins and I started arguing about five on Friday afternoon.
    Pinpointing the problem took twenty minutes.  Problems.  Could have been done remote.  It wasn’t our software.  It was the way they’d configured the system.  After two hours’ confrontation with the SysAdmin team trying to convince them to try the changes I suggested, I reduced it to technical terms they felt they could live with: if I was wrong, I bought all the beer anyone cared to drink afterward – whenever we finished.  If I was right, they bought my beer – forever.
    By then, client management was red in the face and that made salespeople back in Carolina red in the face.  No pressure.
    Positioning environmental parameters, dropping the system, and bringing it back up took me fifteen minutes.  Carolina and client management browbeating us all the while for an unplanned outage, as if that helped things along. Purred like a kitten.  A jaguar kitten.  To placate Carolina and client brass, the SysAdmin team and I hung around acting like we were poised to implement plan “B” if things went sour.  We weren’t.  There was no “Plan B.”
    Near midnight, we heard the last barrage of threats from Carolina and client brass, so the SysAdmins and I called “game over.”  Carolina and client brass put their heads together and suggested time of day and reduced network traffic abated the problems.  One of the SysAdmins had the temerity to suggest being a global operation, there was no such thing as a time-of-day reduction in network traffic.  Carolina and customer brass poo-pooed this and determined my presence would be necessary for the previously agreed two months.  It looked like it was going to be a long fall. It was. Not counting drive-time the “fix” took six hours. They made me stay two months.
    The beer was good. Canadian.  Free. 

* Sanitized friends, sanitized.

© S P Wilcenski 2020

7 thoughts on “Snow

  1. I found the initial thrill of travel soon wore off. As I got more experienced, I used to have clauses put into contracts about “mutual agreement”. Once that was in, I just didn’t agree to anything involving travel.
    But my first trips to the US, way back in the 90s, were on that basis – I was working on encryption and US export restrictions meant the work had to be performed in the USA.

    1. Cool. As a mil guy, there was no such “option.” As a civilian consultant, the customer pays freight, so chooses the locomotive. I was good, but wasn’t so good I could dictate terms like that often. Bumper obviously that good, AND a sharper dude. Thanks for your time, sir.

  2. Travel soon loses its novelty value. I’m a bit of a technophobe so didn’t entirely understand the whole of this, but I enjoyed exercising the finger muscles!

    1. Substitute radar repairman for computer jock. Or TV repairman. As a youngster, Dad career navy and later in my mil service, I lived, it seemed out of suitcases and duffles. Yupper. I grew to hate it, especially in closing years when I was riding jets twice a week on thousand-mile commutes. Bread/table. Appreciate your audience and your thoughts. Fingers: one-two, one-two, deep breath, one-two, one-two…

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