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Keep your cables tidy. You never know when someone might need some wine

Brute force and ignorance does not win the day

Who, Me? We've all heard the one about the cleaner in the hospital pulling the wrong plug. But managing to push back the schedule by months through sheer brute force? Welcome to Who, Me?

Our story comes from a reader Regomized as "Tom" and concerns the time his employer, a major parcel delivery company, was planning to open a new international hub in a far-flung continent at the turn of the century.

The buildout had gone well. The hub was ready to go. The IT systems were up, running and tested. Parcels could be tracked, and their details sent back to the mothership in Western Europe where eager customers could log in and check the progress of their precious packages. Everything was going swimmingly. Possibly a bit too swimmingly, as things turned out.

"Everything was tested and ready for the official opening in partnership with the country's local Post Office, and high-ranking government officials were present," recalled Tom.

"Food and wine were also present," he added.

And then it all went wrong. To be fair, not a lot in IT goes particularly well when alcohol is stirred into the mix, but the "incident" that disrupted the best laid plans was not related to consumption. It was related to retrieval.

The country in question was a warm one, but the server closet was cool. It had to be air-conditioned to prevent all that hardware from overheating. What better place, therefore, for the caterers to keep the party consumables?

All went well, the celebrations kicked off, party food was scoffed and a caterer headed to the server closet for more supplies.

At this point we'd have to wonder about cable hygiene, since the caterer, while stumbling around the server closet in search of food and wine, managed to get his leg tangled up in wiring. He could have carefully extracted himself from the resulting knot of cables. However, he didn't.

"Rather than disentangle," said Tom, "[he] just decided to give his leg an almighty jerk... and ripped out the backplane of the server it was connected to."

Servers don't respond well to such treatment and the grand opening celebration swiftly became more of a wake for shattered hopes and dreams as the destruction became clear.

Still, all it actually needed was some new parts. A new motherboard. That sort of thing. This was, after all, an international courier company. How hard could it be?

"Despite running an express parcel delivery service," said Tom, "the replacement motherboard got snarled up in local customs for more than 3 months before we could finally get the local hardware support company to re-install the parts, recommission the system, and finally declare the site fully operational."

A multiple-month delay thanks to a bit of careless footwork on the part of a caterer. Something to ponder the next time you watch a package sail over the garden fence after being kicked by an overworked operative. It could always be worse.

Ever accidentally pulled this only to see that happen? Or partied a little prematurely? Confess all with an email to Who, Me? ®

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