A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (from galaxies that are far, far away), I worked in IT.

I supported a massive financial software system at a billion dollar company that spanned several continents and nearly thirty countries.  I was part of a large international team that was constantly fixing, configuring, and testing the accounting system and then training employees on how to use it.*

From time to time, the software manufacturer would release a bigger and better version of the software package and when that happened, the company would ask us to upgrade the financial system to the latest and greatest version.

The accounting systems of billion dollar companies are monitored and maintained with mind-melting precision.  Whenever you change the tiniest configuration in the most insignificant area of an application, you need to present incontrovertible proof that you have tested the change exhaustively and that having done so, you would wager your children’s eyeballs that in making this teensy little change, you have not fucked up everything all to hell.

To change the whole blessed system is NASA-esque in its complexity.  Such an upgrade is a multi-million dollar project that requires roughly a year of planning, testing, re-configuring, data conversions, etc.

It’s a big fucking deal.

***

The upgrade of our company’s system was an international project coordinated from our corporate headquarters on the east coast, where I worked at the time.

After a year of preparation, we were ready to “go live.”  This meant that we would turn off the company’s financial and manufacturing systems at the end of business on a Friday, and then all hands in the IT department would work around the clock and through the weekend to install the new software, configure it, move all the old data into the new system, and then test the bejesus out of it to  ensure that when our European colleagues showed up for work on Monday morning, all systems were error-free and fully-functional.

The database guys would do their thing all night Friday and all day Saturday.  When the new software was installed, it was time for my team and me to do our thing.

On Sunday morning, my two co-workers and I would march into HQ with bucket-sized coffees and boxes of Dunkin’ Donuts and we would run through a series of test scripts over the course of a few hours.  We would have a TV on somewhere so we could watch football, as the test script process was fairly mindless by this point:  “Click this button,” <check>, “Open this window,” <check>, “Enter a transaction,” <check>, etc.

But as anyone who has ever owned a computer knows, shit will always crash at the worst possible time.

***

Brian, Hammer**, and I all performed similar roles within our team, each specializing in a different area of finance.  We had worked together for a couple of years and we were sarcastic, disrespectful, profane, and apathetic.  And that was just towards the employees we were hired to support.

We arrived on Sunday morning at around nine a.m., ready to go.

The project manager greeted us with, “there’s been a little problem guys.”

He advised that late on Saturday evening, a rather significant step in the upgrade had gone quite disastrously.  He further advised that the delay in troubleshooting this issue had pushed the entire project plan back several hours.

He suggested that we go get some breakfast and be back at noon.

***

Upon arrival at the Irish pub down the street, we noticed that the Sunday brunch menu included drink specials.

“What time do you guys start serving,” asked Brian.

“Eleven,” said our waiter.

At approximately 11:00:15 a.m., the pints hit our table, and two subsequent rounds arrived in quick succession.

We were pretty comfortable in the pub, and with the beers going down like water, we decided to check in with the upgrade team and make sure they still wanted us back at noon.  Hammer called in to the office.

“What?  You’re kidding?  That’s horrible,” Hammer said into his phone while smiling and giving us a thumbs up.  “Two o’clock?  Yeah, OK, we’ll see you then.”  He hung up.

“Yeah, they’re fucked.  Let’s get another round.”

***

We finished a few more rounds and then I opted to run home to check in on my dogs.  Hammer and Brian relocated to another pub near our office, and I agreed to meet them there for one last round before we’d all go to work at two o’clock.

As I drove home from breakfast, it occurred to me that I had no business driving.

It was about 12:30 p.m.

***

When I arrived back at the pub an hour later, Hammer and Brian were steaming drunk.  The empty glasses in front of them told a story that their glassy eyes and slurs confirmed.

I had quite a bit of catching up to do.

“Hey, can we get some Jameson’s chilled over here?” I called out to the bartender before even removing my jacket and sitting down.

By the time I had satisfied myself that I was sufficiently caught up with my colleagues, we learned that while some progress on the upgrade had been made, delays persisted.  Nonetheless, we should report back to the office for a team meeting.

This would have been an appropriate time for us to order a couple baskets of fries and Cokes to sober up before returning to work.

Instead, we agreed, “yeah, we have time for one more.”

***

When we arrived back at the office, the rest of the team was gathered in a semi-circle of swivel chairs in a large, open area of the floor.  The project manager’s horrified expression indicated that he understood how we had spent our day.  Certainly the odor of booze was a strong indicator but if anyone harbored any lingering doubts, it was likely removed when Brian kicked Hammer’s ankle from behind as he walked towards a chair, sending all of Hammer’s two hundred plus pounds crashing to the floor in front of the whole team.

Our total inability to stop laughing at this seemed to somewhat irritate our sober colleagues.

We were advised that the issue would likely soon be resolved and that our testing should begin shortly.  However, the risk of failure was sufficiently high that the vice president of our department was driving in from the suburbs to receive a full briefing.  Should the upgrade fail, he would be required to face the CEO in the morning, hat in hand, to explain why millions of dollars had just been urinated out the window.  In such dire circumstances, terminations would almost certainly ensue.

Therefore our inebriation was met with some concern by both our supervisor and the project manager.

It was suggested that we get some food, in the somewhat likely event that we find ourselves in a team meeting with the vice president.

“Hey, what about the pub at the Marriott next door?” I asked.

***

Our boss was a good-natured, quiet type who generally gave us wide leeway to do our jobs, so long as we eventually got our work done.  However, in the throes of a disaster-plagued upgrade, his patience was thinner than the ice on which we were skating.

He enthusiastically discouraged us from visiting the pub at the Marriott for dinner and suggested we repair to our cubicles to come up with a better choice for dinner- preferably a place without a liquor license.

It was on the way to our cubicles that our vice president arrived on the floor, almost bumping into us.

He took one look at us, shook his head, and said, “You guys should go get some food,” before storming down the hall in search of our boss.

***

While we sat in our cubicles, trying to resolve the food dilemma, Hammer and I indulged in a name-calling contest that ended when he abruptly leapt out of his chair and dove into my cubicle, pile driving me out of my chair, onto the floor, and practically folding me in half.

It felt like my spine was going to snap and so I unleashed a torrent of screams and profanity that generally accompany particularly graphic murders.

Our boss soon careened around the corner to see what had happened.  Unbeknown to the three of us, he, the vice president, and the project manager were in the room across the hall from us, with the door open.  They had been listening to the entire incident.

He glared at us, suggesting that we find something to do that didn’t involve wrestling, and retreated back into his meeting, probably five years older.

***

As we sat in our cubicles, twiddling our thumbs waiting for our blood alcohol contents to decrease, we still had no plan for food.  Brian had been asking where we wanted to eat, but we were ignoring him.  Just because.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the huge un-potted plant fly over the wall from Brian’s cubicle into Hammer’s.  It was a volleyball-sized mass of leaves, vines, and a large clump of roots caked by about five pounds of dry soil that seemed to fly in slow motion.

When Brian inherited his cubicle, there were four potted plants hanging along the side.  These plants were likely never watered, and I doubt if anyone had ever paid attention to them.  Until then.

The plant hit Hammer’s bald head with a dusty thud, sending dirt and leaves everywhere- all over his keyboard, his desk, his clothing, and his floor.

Before I could fully process what had just happened, Hammer calmly stood up, walked over to Brian’s cubicle, removed the rack containing the remaining three plants, and hurled them at Brian, point blank.

Dried soil and profanity flew, and Brian looked like someone had just dumped a wheelbarrow full of dirt on him.  He sprung up and advanced on Hammer.

I had just jumped up and ran over to assess the disaster, when our boss again came storming out of the conference room.

“What the fuck are you guys doing?” he demanded as his final nerves unraveled.  We stood there weaving, slurring, and blaming each other.

Then, releasing his hands from Hammer’s neck, Brian, drunk as a hobo and covered in dirt, looked around and replied without a shred of irony, “You know, Chief- I can’t help but feel partially responsible for this.”

We were asked to leave the building until the executives completed their meeting.

We decided that our only viable option was the bar at the Marriott next door.

***

At ten p.m., we had yet to begin our testing, and the three of us were drinking at the hotel bar, waiting for them to call us back to work.

Suddenly our boss stormed in, pointed at the village of empty beer bottles in front of us and inquired why we were not answering our phone.  He had apparently been calling us for the better part of an hour before finally put two and two together and walking over to the nearest bar to find us.

He directed us to put our beers down and get back to the office, toute de suite.

Brian gamely offered that we’d meet him over there as soon as we finished our beers.

To say that this comment did not go over well would be a spectacular understatement.

We weaved back to the office and began working.

***

Somehow the testing was completed without further incident and the system was turned on just in time for our European colleagues to log in on Monday morning.  Despite all of the excitement, the upgrade was ultimately a success and our group was commended for our diligence and perseverance through the challenges we had endured during the weekend.

Our team even threw a party to celebrate going live.

Our boss eventually forgave us, although on his final day with the company, he admitted that the one time that he ever got really mad at us was when he had to go pull us out of the bar to do our jobs and we said we’d be over as soon as we finished our beers.

I think back on that comment from time to time and feel shitty and embarrassed about how selfish and immature we were that day.  We were disrespectful to our boss, to our colleagues, and to ourselves.  I would have to guess that most people in our shoes would have made very different choices that day- ones that didn’t involve 12 hour drinking binges, wrestling during meetings, and office vandalism.   In fact, when I look back on all the problems that occurred that day and take an honest look at my part in everything, I too can’t help but feel partially responsible.





*To this day I have very little understanding of computers, networks, servers, and the like.  Back then, I didn’t know a UNIX script from a movie script.  I could not install printers, and when people would call my desk looking for help mapping to a network drive, I would change my voice, adopt a vague foreign accent, and replied “Joe’s not here.  You call someone else,” before hanging up and going to lunch.

**Names have been changed

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JOE DALY writes for a number of publications, including the UK's Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazines, Outburn, Bass Guitar Magazine and several other print and online outlets. He is the music and cultural observer for Chuck Palahniuk's LitReactor site and his works have been published in several languages. When he is not drafting wild-eyed manifestos, Joe enjoys life in San Diego's groovy North County, teaching music journalism, doing yoga, running, playing guitar and spending tireless hours in deep and meaningful conversations with his beloved dogs, Cabo and Lola. You can check out his rants at http://joedaly.net and follow him on Twitter: @JoeD_SanDiego

95 responses to “Partially Responsible”

  1. Joe,

    What a scene! What a series of scenes. Funny and terribly unfunny. I love your title. It’s full of questions and tension.

    Jessica

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks, Jessica. As it was all going down, it was both funny and terribly unfunny as well. Mainly the three of us found everything funny, and everyone else found the three of us terribly unfunny. 🙂

      Thanks for the read!

  2. Lorna says:

    It IS a big fucking deal. Stop changing your software and effing up our books!!!!

    Oh wait, I better finish the read before commenting. 😉

    • Joe Daly says:

      Well if you people would just learn how to use the system and stop asking for a brand new report every other day, maybe we wouldn’t have to keep fixing the software! 🙂

  3. Zara Potts says:

    I love the disclaimer at the end, Cupcake – but I don’t believe a word you say.
    I bet you loved every moment of these outrageous shenanigans.

    Your story reminds me of a terrible hour in my life when I was a news journo. Somehow – I have no idea how – I managed to kill the rundown for our news bulletin. The national news goes out at 6pm every night in NZ and the whole run down (which plays all the stories automatically and holds all the intros etc) just disappeared when I touched my computer.

    For a second, I thought about doing a runner but my phone rang almost immediately and the head producer was screaming ‘What the fuck did you do??” at me down the line. I told him I had no idea and went outside for a cigarette. They finally found the rundown in my own personal files at quarter to six. Disater averted. Had they not – the news would not have gone to air that night and I would have been responsible. Inadvertantly, but still ultimately responsible.

    There’s still a part of me that is very disappointed this didn’t eventuate. Damnit.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Pookie, when you said that you went outside for a cigarette, I realized we were right on the same page when it comes to problem solving- take five, chill out, and wait for the problem to resolve itself.

      I’m sure that had your own personal disaster actually come to fruition, it also would have made a nice little piece for TNB. 🙂 Could it still? I for one would like to read some journo stories from you. Got any good dish for us??

      • Zara Potts says:

        There are eight million stories in the naked city, Cupcake.

        • Joe Daly says:

          Whoa. Is everyone naked? How do I get there?

        • Zara Potts says:

          The plane, boss. The plane.

        • Joe Daly says:

          Hmmm… the only problem there is that no matter how innocent the person’s fantasy might be, Mr. Roarke always figures out a way for it to be attached to fatal risk.

          Like, a guy’s fantasy could be kissing his high school prom queen, but then the dude finds out that she’s married to a murderous alien precious stone dealer and he has to fight the alien in a duel to the death to kiss the high school prom queen, who has big hair, a bad attitude, and overall isn’t much to write home about in the first place.

          But still- naked….

        • Zara Potts says:

          One day I will tell the story about how I said ‘panties’ on air and nearly got fired.
          Not even Mr Roarke coulda foreseen that…

        • Joe Daly says:

          One day I will tell the story about how I said ‘panties’ on air and nearly got fired.

          Is there video and if so, can we expect that to be included in the piece?

  4. Irene Zion says:

    Joe,

    It worked!
    You should feel responsible for that.
    Good job, however you did it!

  5. Becky Palapala says:

    Ugh. And to think the best I’ve ever done is turn up hung over. Even when I worked in a bar. As a bartender.

    I HAVE WASTED MY LIFE.

  6. Robert Vaughan says:

    Loved this romp, Joe. Sounds just like every job I ever had in this kind of environment. And it brings up that unanswerable question: what are we actually responsible for? Everything and Nothing. Or somewhere in between.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks, Robert! I like your existential take on things.

      what are we actually responsible for? Everything and Nothing. Or somewhere in between.

      If I had my way, I’d probably assume responsibility for the area closer to nothing. Keep everyone’s expectations appropriately managed…

      Of course, if you’re in IT, it seems like people’s expectations tend closer to the “Everything” end of the spectrum. 🙂

  7. This is a real nail-biter of a story, I cringed and laughed all the way to the end. I’m surprised though that the boss let you guys off that easy and that everything turned out okay. From my own experience, there’s sometimes a strange luck that follows the inebriated.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks, Nat! Yeah, we definitely lucked out. I think that had something gone really wrong, as a result of our actions, we might have faced far graver consequences.

      there’s sometimes a strange luck that follows the inebriated.

      This, mon ami, is pure literary gold. Laughed out loud because it is both completely absurd and entirely true!

  8. Lorna says:

    Joe,

    “Somehow the testing was completed without further incident and the system was turned on just in time for our European colleagues to log in on Monday morning. Despite all of the excitement, the upgrade was ultimately a success and our group was commended for our diligence and perseverance through the challenges we had endured during the weekend.”

    Jesus, man! I’d have though you’d would have had your walking papers after behavior like that. You are one lucky dude!!!

    I can envision perfectly these scenes being played out on a movie screen somewhere in the future.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Lorna, the fact that it all went off well in the end had more to do with the guys who were working from Friday through Sunday morning, than with the three of us.

      Whenever football season rolls around, I think of that day. And yeah, it could make for a funny scene in either a movie, or one of those employee training videos on what is NOT acceptable in the workplace.

      • Lorna says:

        Yeah, but had the guys before you not worked out the kinks, some heads were gonna roll. Your fault or not, I bet you would had been a gonner, no? This is why I call you lucky. 🙂

  9. Forwarding this one straight to my husband, Joe, who’s worked in finance for 15 years now and has had some days like this, to put it mildly. In fact, for awhile in 1999, setting up his company’s branch in Switzerland, he pretty much lived between the office and a local (Lausanne) bar, sleeping on a mattress in an unfinished apartment dubbed “the barracks,” only to return hung over to the office, get drunk at lunch, return to the office, get more drunk at dinner, return to the office, get more drunk at 11pm, and then go crash at the barracks before doing it all again–for about 3 months straight. Generally speaking, David is not even much of a drinker. I think he drank more during that period (Duvel, mainly) than at any other time in his life. Yet somehow, at the end of it all, Lausanne had a working trading office and David got promoted–just in time to prevent my ability to relocate to Lausanne so as to continue working on that project. Apparently, he’d done the job so bloody well while plowed that it was a Mission Accomplished situation, and our asses were stuck in Chicago for the duration.

    This was a fun read!

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks, Gina! I think Nat M. said it best above when he noted that sometimes it’s the drunk ones who are the luckiest. Something about finance, IT, Europe, and drinking all go hand in hand in hand in hand.

      Devastated that you didn’t get the spicy relocation deal to Switzerland. But at least you had better pizza options in Chicago than your husband in Switzerland! (Trying to find a bright side to that one…)

  10. Donk says:

    Joe f’ing Daly,

    Jay just sent this to me…too f’ing funny…I am surprised that Scotty P was not involved…was your laid back boss Michael with a similar last name to our buddy Herry? He was laid back! Missed you in SF at OOW last week…sounds like you are having fun in sunny SD…Take Care…Don

    • Joe Daly says:

      Don! Ah, you know only too well about days like this. Scotty P was too smart to get involved in those kind of shenanigans. And yes, that was the same laid back boss. Any awards that Mother Theresa got, he should have gotten, so great was his patience…

      Thanks for dropping by, Don. Hope all’s well!

  11. Gloria Harrison says:

    You worked in IT, Joe Daly? Wow. This answers questions I didn’t even know I had.

    Okay, I’ll finish reading now.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      How in god’s name did you manage not to get fired?

      I can remember – the year I discovered tequila, which was also the year I turned 21, which was also the year I met my ex-husband, who also liked tequila, which was also the last year I really drank tequila – going to work at a multi-billion dollar international snack food corporation, where I ran the wherehouse computer, and pulling over to the side of the road to vomit before rolling into work an hour or two late. I have no idea how I didn’t get fired either. What I do remember is that the front office manager, Cindy, who I absolutely adored, pulled me aside one day to tell me that I should start considering how people would react to my antics in “the real world.” I actually always appreciated her for that. It made me feel partially responsible for my bloodshot eyes and the vomit on my lapel.

      • Gloria Harrison says:

        warehouse

      • Joe Daly says:

        How in god’s name did you manage not to get fired?

        I’d like to say it’s because my talents were so immense that they eclipsed even hellacious transgressions such as this, but that would be a pile of doo doo.

        I tell myself that people really liked the way I dressed.

        Having vomit on your lapel is a badge of distinction. Maybe not in the real world, but when you’ve been drinking before work, and you still make it to your desk, it’s like a purple heart. A purple heart of dysfunction, nonetheless, but still, a purple heart.

  12. Matt says:

    Somehow, Joe, I suspect you of greater culpability in these hijinks than you let on.

    I worked as a beta tester for Sony for a little while when I first moved back to San Diego. Dios mio, that was one boring damn job – and, as you say, largely conducted on autopilot. Being drunk for it would have been so much more fun.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Somehow, Joe, I suspect you of greater culpability in these hijinks than you let on.

      Matt, I can neither confirm nor deny this entirely accurate statement.

      As a beta tester, you surely know the woe of which I speak. How you managed to do it sober is a Bermuda Triangle-like mystery to me. You must tell me more the next time we catch a show.

  13. pix says:

    why does this all sound so familiar?? OH YEAH. i’ve been there, done that, slightly less gravity. and it had to do with porn. maybe that’s why it was far less grave.

    ah, the mammaries.

  14. Eek, this made me so nervous to read… I’m not used to the kinds of responsibility that come with working that these places. I feel sick when I think about things going wrong; being part of a team and the possibility of being the weak link.

    Of course, whenever I am in a situation remotely like that I tend to get drunk. I find it usually helps, except that one time I drove a tractor across a road with the plough down.

    Great last line, by the way. Loved it.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thx, David- I was nervous writing it! It didn’t help that it was a Sunday during football season when the whole thing went down. I’m sure that played a role in us feeling like it was OK to have a few pints in the afternoon, seeing as how the rest of the city was out in bars, homes, parties, etc. doing the same thing.

      You drove a tractor across a road with the plough down? Any chance we’ll see that in a story here?

      • Yeah, there are bad times for bad things to happen. When you add sports and millions of viewers, that’s always mounting pressure.

        The tractor story is too brief and stupid and embarrassing to warrant a whole post. Basically I was drinking tequila at work at 7am and had to perform a delicate moving task with a tractor. I was so focused on the front that I left the plough down… The road took a long time to repair…

        • Joe Daly says:

          Basically I was drinking tequila at work at 7am

          This is awesome. “Basically” carries so much weight in this sentence that you need a truck to carry it over to the next word.

          I’m sure it was a terrifying incident at the time, and the lingering road repairs couldn’t have helped. Still, one of those stories that people love to hear (especially people who have done stupid things while drinking).

        • I was working with Mexican field labourers, so it was one of those “not a big deal” things that later you look back on and think, “wow, drinking tequila at 7am… huh.”

    • Judy Prince says:

      You’ll have to elaborate the tractor story, David!

      • Joe Daly says:

        Amen, Judy. Some points for clarification:

        1. How and where Mexican field labourers came into play;

        2. How tequila was introduced at 7 a.m. and in what quantities

        3. Besides the terrible aftermath of the carved up road, how was the rest of the day spent?

        • Judy Prince says:

          Yeah, Joe. David owes us the whole enchilada (ok, strike that word).

          BTW, a few minutes ago I read your post again—-and hooted again and again. Clearly, I have a prob with enjoying the hell outa men behaving badly. I wonder if I’d hoot as much about women behaving badly? Or would I be girly judgemental. Dunno.

          Am reading Norah Vincent’s _Self-Made Man_ (2006, Viking) true story of her year and a half “passing” for male. Nuala O’Faolain’s back cover blurb aptly describes its effect:

          “This gripping book got me through a delayed transatlantic flight beside a shrieking baby. Could I say more? It was high-risk stuff, Norah Vincent’s undercover research into what men are like when they’re in the places where men are men. The reader’s heart beats fast at the chances she took.”

          Why not try researching and writing a book about being a female for a year and a half, Joe? What have you got to lose? Oops, strike that.

        • Okay okay… I was working on a farm in California as I supported myself during my first venture to the United States (posing as a literary expert at night and labouring in the fields by day). My fellow workers were Mexican immigrants, and as an alcoholic Scot they enjoyed taking me around Mexican bars and getting me drunk, then setting me loose to find my way home… One day the boss was sick and we started early – at 7am. A bottle of tequila, some vodka, and a few crates of beer were finished by maybe 9am. Of course, well before then I was out of my head and driving a tractor across the road, as a bunch of Mexican guys rolled around laughing. I fled before I could be accused of being drunk, and got away with it by simply pretending to be a moron. The rest of the day was spent sleeping.

          There, my shameful story comes out at last.

        • Judy Prince says:

          A shameful story, indeed, David. And goofy-hilarious, especially the Mexicans labourers having you on most of the time. HA!

          You and Joe seem to share a talent for not landing in jail. Incredible.

          You and Joe might, as well, enjoy this talented guy doing a combo total of 24 Brit dialects and global English accents. He’s excellent and a HOOT:

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/01/24-english-accents_n_747400.html

  15. Simon Smithson says:

    “rian kicked Hammer’s ankle from behind as he walked towards a chair, sending all of Hammer’s two hundred plus pounds crashing to the floor in front of the whole team.

    Our total inability to stop laughing at this seemed to somewhat irritate our sober colleagues.”

    This was my very favourite part of the story.

    I really have to start telling stories about the time I worked in nightclubs. Just as soon as I can think of a good sobriquet… all I will say for now is that there’s nothing quite like the look on a boss’s face when you turn up to work hammered (no pun intended)… and they’re so desperate they have to let you work.

    • Joe Daly says:

      This was my very favourite part of the story.

      It certainly was amusing. At the time. To us. Isn’t it funny how all it takes for a group of grown men to revert to the schoolyard is a couple of beers? Horrifying…

      all I will say for now is that there’s nothing quite like the look on a boss’s face when you turn up to work hammered (no pun intended)… and they’re so desperate they have to let you work.

      You just summed up the whole piece here, better than I ever could have. Well done!

      Looking forward to some nightclub war stories…

  16. Simone says:

    Eish! WTF? Talk about shenanigans! Didn’t you get worried, even a little, that you would possibly get fired while drinking on the job? I know I would’ve, but then again that’s the fearful goodie-two-shoes in me.

    Glad you guys rocked it and lived to tell the tale! Awesome!!

    “*To this day I have very little understanding of computers, networks, servers, and the like. Back then, I didn’t know a UNIX script from a movie script. I could not install printers, and when people would call my desk looking for help mapping to a network drive, I would change my voice, adopt a vague foreign accent, and replied “Joe’s not here. You call someone else,” before hanging up and going to lunch.

    Joe, you and I were seperated at birth! I’m in software support at the moment and this is exactly what I do when I don’t know anything about what they’re asking. Passing the buck onto someone else is the perfect thing to do! Works all the time! 🙂

    Oh, but I do know how to install a printer!

    • Joe Daly says:

      STG-

      Didn’t you get worried, even a little, that you would possibly get fired while drinking on the job?

      Sadly, no. I think that by that time, we had enjoyed so many liquid lunches that we figured we could pull it off. Of course, a 60 minute lunch at the pub consists of mainly 2-3 beers and heavy, alcohol-absorbing food. Unlike here, which was pretty much 12 hours of heavy drinking, with just a little food. Still, by the time the early afternoon rolled around, our analytical powers weren’t as sharp as they should have been.

      And I’m stoked to hear that I’m not the only software support person who missed Deskside Support 101. The key to passing the buck is to then emailing the person to whom the buck is passed and cc’ing your client. You keep on them until the issue is resolved, and then you take all the credit. 🙂

      • Simone says:

        Oh, I see… Software geeks + Liquid lunches = Dutch Courage. Nice!

        Who needs Deskside Support 101? When you’ve mastered “Networking (or N+)”: Introducing your clients to the geeks who know what’s going on. 🙂

        • Joe Daly says:

          Who needs Deskside Support 101? When you’ve mastered “Networking (or N+)”: Introducing your clients to the geeks who know what’s going on. 🙂

          Exactly! When you’re tasked with a goal beyond your skill set, become the ultimate middle man and you can’t fail! When you kick the issue to someone else, if they succeed, you get credit for identifying the right resource and holding them accountable to resolution. You then send a note to their manager to get on their good side, for future issues.

          Au contraire, if they tell you to go pound sand, then you get to complain to the client about how hard it is to find good help before kicking it up to your manager and going back to watching YouTube at your desk. 🙂

  17. Cynthia Hawkins says:

    Joe, this is fantastically funny! It could be a Judd Apatow script. Or an Office Space sequel.

  18. Oh Joe Daly!

    This is hilarious. I would have totally fired you.

    Or gotten drunk with you.

    I dunno. Tough call.

  19. Full-time writers such as yourself can afford to look back on incidents such as this one with a grin and a shrug, eh? I love the chilled Jamesons, the choice of a veteran brunch connoisseur. What’s interesting is that now, when you could drink all day without management recourse, you’re diligently and professionally turning out product.

    I would have canned you guys with malice.

    • Joe Daly says:

      What’s interesting is that now, when you could drink all day without management recourse, you’re diligently and professionally turning out product.

      I can’t tell if that constitutes real irony, or Alanis irony.

      Funny about canning us with malice. When Brian emailed me back about the story, he said that he noted in many of the comments that people thought we should have been canned. His response was, “I couldn’t agree more.”

      • Totally Alanis. Actually, no. I have faith you’re at the grindstone. If only because you’re so honest about being an IT guy while knowing close to nothing about IT. In retrospect, that’s my kind of employee. Tell me everything you can’t do, and we’ll figure something out. Now, if you’d invited me to the bar afterward, and ordered round after round of Finlandia “Worker’s Strength” Vodka with your severance check, I probably would have hired you back.

        • Joe Daly says:

          Tell me everything you can’t do, and we’ll figure something out.

          I wish more women would ask that question.

          Thank you, thank you! I’m here every Wednesday night. Don’t forget to tip your waitress!

          I think the “Worker’s Strength” qualification needs to occupy a prominent place in your next work. It’s just too good to omit.

  20. jmblaine says:

    Yes but Joe:
    Didn’t you feel
    alive
    that day?

    I did
    just reading your
    adventure.

    • Joe Daly says:

      JMB,

      I cannot tell a lie- it was an invigorating adventure, right up to the point where we had to start working.

      Although my memory is hazy, I can safely assume that my vivaciousness was thoroughly compensated for the next morning in a host of karmic and physical dimensions.

      Still, what a day…

  21. angela says:

    i’d have paid good money to witness my co-workers walk into a meeting drunk, and then brawling in their cubicles. the most exciting things that happened were: a co-worker taking a nap with her head down on her desk; a temp getting into a heated argument with a security guard; and a manager flashing her ladyparts during her presentation as she pointed at something on the screen, and forgot she wasn’t wearing any underwear under her short skirt.

    okay, so that last one was pretty exciting but i only heard about it second hand.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Angela, I was going to say that that last one was pretty juicy! Even seeing a co-worker napping with her head down is pretty good stuff.

      Yeah, we stretched the definition of “professionals” on more than one occasion…

      But hey, it’s all part of loving what you do, right?

  22. Meg Worden says:

    This is a hilarious Joe. And disastrous. A hilarious disaster that probably gets funnier and more cringe worthy over time.
    Hurling potted plants. Ay yi yi.
    Makes me want to rethink my no-office-job policy. I didn’t know it could be so interesting!

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks, Meg. The cringes still come with time, but thankfully the humor does too.

      Yeah, the potted plant thing was ridiculous. It was one of those surreal moments when you understand exactly what it is that you’re seeing, yet your mind tells you that there’s no way in hell that it’s really happening. After a day’s worth of boozing, you aren’t sure what to believe.

      But I’d say you made the right choice with your no-office-job policy. It’s just safer that way!

  23. D.R. Haney says:

    I’ve never been drunk on the job — any job — though I did once shoot in a scene in a movie after snorting heroin.

    Also, I’ve never worked an office job, but if I ever do, I hope you’ll be in the cubicle next to mine, Joe, and there’s a bar just up the road. I could totally get into vandalism and drunken wrestling.

    • Joe Daly says:

      though I did once shoot in a scene in a movie after snorting heroin.

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure that we could hang.

      I think that you and I have the makings of a great sitcom. We could play two burnt out writers forced to take office jobs to pay off a court settlement from stealing a pickup truck and driving it through the front window of a club that we hated because they threw us out after we wouldn’t stop yelling at the female singer songwriter on open mic night, and we spend half of our days loaded and the other half giving training presentations on appropriate behavior in the workplace. And yes, there would be vandalism and wrestling.

      Think it’s got legs?

  24. Kerry says:

    Joe,

    Oh Shit… It’s the heritage that you’ve been blessed (or cursed) with. The message that I got reading this was that your work was top-notch and well respected prior to this day. If it wasn’t, your ass would have been out the door. I’m glad you showed them up again with another great success.

    I hope to see you next time you make it to the Woo. Btw- I think you need to ride around Worcester again with the camera. Lots of great new attractions to see.
    Kerry

    • Joe Daly says:

      Kerry-

      Indeed, the Hibernian DNA is a mixed blessing. Which is actually nice, because it can always excuse my conduct. Or at least I can try to use that as an excuse…

      I’ll be back in Wormtown at Christmas and we shall definitely rock and roll. And yes, I will do another photojournalism piece on our glorious home and native land.

      See you soon and thx for the read!

  25. Dana says:

    And he lands on his feet once again! It’s my contention that your intellect & confidence coupled with a healthy dose of uncanny good luck will get you through any circumstance. Seriously funny and cringe inducing. I giggled nervously throughout, even though I knew the ending. I appreciate too your ability to remember this event so clearly under the cicumstamces. 🙂

  26. Dana says:

    Cicumstaces? Good job autocorrect!!

  27. Judy Prince says:

    Silly me, sleeping the night away and missing this post and its comments until now. Joe, you can always get me giggling and high-fiving the orange juice and spitting it out onto the cat. Cat knows this and shies away from the computer when it senses TNB posts being brought up. I will finish your post right after this bcuz I really do need some orange juice and breakfast. Just wanted to tell you that I love you, again, for the way you portray yourself and your cohorts; to wit:

    “On Sunday morning, my two co-workers and I would march into HQ with bucket-sized coffees and boxes of Dunkin’ Donuts and we would run through a series of test scripts over the course of a few hours. We would have a TV on somewhere so we could watch football, as the test script process was fairly mindless by this point: “Click this button,” , “Open this window,” , “Enter a transaction,” , etc.”

    Further to wit:

    “We had worked together for a couple of years and we were sarcastic, disrespectful, profane, and apathetic. And that was just towards the employees we were hired to support.”

    Back later when I have finished the post.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks a bunch, Judy! I hope you were able to enjoy the orange juice without distressing the cat any further. I can’t help but feel… oh, nevermind. 🙂

      As always, I appreciate your read and your comments. Enjoy your breakfast and the rest of a ridiculously awesome day. And send my regards to the Rodent!

      • Judy Prince says:

        Lucky for me I finished your post AFTER returning from dinner, Joe.

        Loved your suggesting the Marriott!

        And, of course, this: “Then, releasing his hands from Hammer’s neck, Brian, drunk as a hobo and covered in dirt, looked around and replied without a shred of irony, ‘You know, Chief- I can’t help but feel partially responsible for this.’ ”

        After which was this:

        “We decided that our only viable option was the bar at the Marriott next door.”

        How you kept those jobs, I’ll never know.

        Rodent yells hello. I think he remembers reading about your motorway incident in Scotland. 😉

  28. JohnnysCousin says:

    Man, I thought for sure at some point, I’d be reading about the day we got laid off….or when Poltz came for a visit.

    Yeah, those were good times.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Ugh. That was another bleak day- the day Poltz and I came by the office so I could pick up my laptop to go home to listen to the all hands meeting. Gross.

      Those were the times that weren’t even fun while they were going on, let alone the next day.

      Glad we survived. Send my regards to Jake and Meatcheese!

  29. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    I realize that final paragraph matters to you in a big way, Joe, and I am totally supportive of your health, manners and maturity.

    However… This is a great fucking story.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks, L Rae C. It’s nice to know that I can be appreciated for the “Before” and the “After.” You rock. 🙂

      Yeah, it’s key to be able to look back on such (mis)adventures with an appropriate dose of self-awareness and honesty, but it was indeed quite a colorful adventure, to be sure.

  30. Tawni says:

    You sound like my kind of co-worker, Joe. I’ve worked drunk as a convenience store clerk, but there wasn’t nearly as much at stake. I’m sure soft drink sales offer a wee bit more wiggle room for ineptitude than software upgrades. Congratulations on getting through that day of drunken shenanigans and tomfoolery with your job intact. This was a fun story. 🙂

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks, Tawni! I’m sure you have some savage stories from your convenience store days- both your own buzzed adventures as well as some of the characters passing thru. 🙂

      I was indeed lucky to leave the weekend with job intact. Phew. Thanks for the read!

  31. Noah O says:

    Good stuff Joe! I’m surprised u didn’t pull all of that milk out of the fridge and start throwing that around…

  32. Brian Eckert says:

    I like this how understated this is: “…our inebriation was met with some concern by both our supervisor and the project manager.”

    Why is it that the more drunk we get, the more of a good idea it becomes to get drunker? I dunno; I guess we should ak this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhDh2KuFpEc&feature=player_embedded

  33. Brian Eckert says:

    I like this how understated this is: “…our inebriation was met with some concern by both our supervisor and the project manager.”

    Why is it that the more drunk we get, the more of a good idea it becomes to get drunker? I dunno; I guess we should ask this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhDh2KuFpEc&feature=player_embedded

  34. dwoz says:

    I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT I MISSED THIS.

    I will vouch that ever single word of this is absolutely true.

    THis is SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) in every build environment of ever IT department that there ever was.

    I speak from great authority.

    After all, I am writing the software that YOUR bank will use to do YOUR electronic funds transfer.

    And, I am personally in complete disbelief that this system actually functions in the real world. Because, I tested it, and it DID NOT WORK in my test environment.

    oh, me.

    Don’t lose faith.

  35. Erin says:

    OK…I nearly just peed my pants reading this and my colleagues are looking at me like I’m insane because I’m laughing so hard tears are rolling down my face. Thanks for bringing me back to the ‘fun’ days at unnamed company. 🙂

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