Choose Your Own Adventure — A Day in the Life of a SysAdmin
The Hair-raising Adventures of a SysAdmin
Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books? Every chapter was filled with death defying adventures and you were given the choice of what would happen next in the story. Would you be able to escape the pirate ship or be eaten by crocodiles? One never knew!
We thought it would be fun to dramatize a day in the life of a stereotypical SysAdmin. Obviously it's just for fun, but if you are an IT Manager, SysAdmin or IT person of some kind, some of these situations might sound a little familiar...
Just like reading straight through a Choose Your Own Adventure book would be cheating (and confusing), to get the full experience, it's best to use the links at the bottom of each section to take you to your next choice.
Imagine you are the system admin in the wild jungle of corporate America. It’s Monday morning and you go straight to your desk in the basement. You like it down there because it’s dark and quiet and Susan from accounting will leave you alone because she thinks there are rats down there (ok, it was a white lie but sometimes you do what you have to).
You sit down and turn your computer and four monitors on. Finally, you’ll be able to take care of that update you’ve been meaning to get to. All of a sudden, the phone rings breaking your concentration. What do you do? Choose your destiny by clicking the button below to find out what happens next.
Answer the Phone
You pick up the phone with trepidation. What kind of catastrophe will await you? Phil from marketing’s computer isn’t working. The screen is black. You patiently walk him through turning on his computer. ALL FIXED.
You need a cup of coffee to deal with this lack of intelligence so early in the morning, so you decide to brave the wild world upstairs. A crucial decision awaits. Do you brave the elevator or climb the stairs?
Ignore the Phone
You ignore the phone, and it finally stops ringing. Phew! You congratulate yourself on avoiding another inane request and laugh to yourself about the episode of LetterKenney you watched last night. “To be fair!” Ha!
Just when you thought you were out of the woods, the elevator dings and you can hear a loud shriek of laughter—that ear shattering sound can only mean one thing—Sandy from sales. Oh no!
You hear her coming closer and closer. She’s almost at the door. Your heart thumps. Where can you hide? You are tempted to dive under your desk but the tangle of cords might strangle you and it’s too late anyway.
She enters your office and without even saying hello or good morning proceeds to explain for ten minutes straight and without pausing for breath how she knows all about computers but hers is clearly old and slow and of the unintelligent persuasion. It obviously is broken because the printer just flashes an error—“PC Load Letter.” She asks you, “what does that mean?”
From bitter experience you know that it’s going to be a long day. You follow her to the elevator but the thought of being stuck in the elevator with her makes your head explode. You must decide—are you resigned to your fate or can you make an excuse to escape?
Take the Stairs
You would not willingly torture yourself with this much exercise so early on a Monday morning, but sometimes you do what you have to do to stay sane.
Luckily, the stairs are usually deserted so you can take your time and the hunted feeling that seems to follow you everywhere you go in the building slowly ebbs away.
You make it up two flights of stairs at a leisurely pace when your work cell dings with a text alert. Oh no. Here it goes. You are not safe anywhere. You take a deep breath and try not to cringe as you read the text.
All is lost! Or at least a lot of important data has been lost. What are the odds that multiple redundancy drives would fail at the same time?! The boss is going to have a fit if you can’t get that data retrieved. You turn around and start heading back down the stairs. What do you do?
Take the Elevator
By some luck the elevator is empty and you reach the right floor without anyone joining you. You hope your luck will hold as you exit the elevator and slip around the corner unnoticed with the reflexes of a cat. You see Sandy from sales making her way to the elevator with that look in her eye so you make yourself scarce.
You walk towards the break room, but it is more perilous than you guessed. You hear loud voices—there is some sort of gathering in there. Abort! Abort the mission! Coffee will have to wait.
The stairwell is just beyond the break room. You can make a break for safety or turn around and risk passing by the boss’ office again. The last time he caught you unsuspecting, he asked you to go over to his house and fix his garage door. Both ways are filled with peril, which do you choose?
You survived! It was a close one, but you managed not to say anything rude about her intelligence or run screaming off the elevator to get away from her incessant chatter. You step off the elevator.
Trailing behind Sandy as far as you dare, you keep your head down and are careful not to make eye contact with anyone as you pass. If someone catches your eye, they will try to capture you with something like, “Hey IT guy, my ___ isn’t working. I clicked all the buttons and downloaded every possible and remotely suspicious email attachment and now it’s not working.”
You see Larry the Lurker out of the corner of your eye and quicken your pace to catch up with Sandy. Finally in her office, you restart her computer. ALL FIXED. You are fully aware that if you don’t escape right away, she will find all sorts of absurd requests that she needs you to do. Last time she asked you to water her plants and move her desk a little closer to the window.
“You’re good to go,” you say with one foot already out the door. As you hurry back through the maze of cubicles, Jerry pops his head up, “Hey, IT…” But you are too quick. You are prepared for moments just like this. With the stealth and precision of a cat, you disappear safely around the corridor.
As you turn the corner, you hesitate at a crossroads of paths. Danger lurks in every direction so you must choose wisely.
The quickest way back to safety leads to the right past the employee lounge—one of the most dangerous places in the whole building. You can hear the loud voices preparing to sing happy birthday. Not your thing.
To the left means that you must pass the office of your boss, Jeff. The last time he caught you unsuspecting, he asked you to go over to his house and fix his garage door. To the right…a birthday party.
Both ways are filled with peril, which do you choose?
Past the Break Room
Now that you’ve made your decision to walk past the perils of the break room, you go as quickly as you can. But your haste has brought your doom.
If you had waited just a few seconds more, you might have been able to sneak past unnoticed while everyone was busy, but alas, you’ve been spotted by Molly.
You aren’t exactly sure what her job is since she has never called you in to fix anything. But she’s one of those friendly people—always saying hello and wanting to have a conversation about your weekend or something. She’s leading the group in the birthday celebration. She calls out as you try to slide by the open break room door. “Kevin!” (Of course she knows your name and probably your birthday and favorite color.)
You pretend not to hear her and keep going, but she follows you. “Kevin, come join us! We are celebrating Steve’s birthday. There’s cake!” She says all this in her excited sing song voice as if the appeal of cake would somehow draw you to the dreaded room.
She’s too nice for you to say what you’re really thinking, so you sigh and turn to follow her. “Look everyone, here’s Kevin!” She claps her hands like a child. You groan inwardly and try to stay near the door for a quick escape. Finally the singing ends and you are handed a piece of sad looking chocolate cake.
You make it out of the break room, dumping the dry, lumpy cake in the trash as you make a beeline for the elevator. But the cake and the social interaction has slowed your reflexes and before you make it, you are waylaid by several people crowding around you.
“Can you come take a look at my___?” says one. “While you’re up here, could you…?” says another. Resignedly, you follow from cubicle to cubicle. The “tasks” are much like you expected. You are asked to remove a spider (but don’t kill it!) and “fix” someone’s broken keyboard by blowing food crumbs from between the keys.
You draw the line when someone says the toilet in the gents is out of order and could you come take a look. “I have to get back,” you say feebly as you make for the stairwell. You work your way slowly down the stairs. It’s not worth the risk of popping out on another floor and being “needed” again. You make it back to your desk and heave a deep sigh.
Another day is nearly over. You realize it’s only Monday and the whole thing will start over again tomorrow.
Past the Boss' Office
You take a deep breath and discreetly fast walk past the boss’ office. Sure you look like one of those old ladies getting their exercise in the mall on a rainy day, but who cares?!
You’re not sure if the boss was even in his office or not but by some miracle, you make it to the elevator unscathed. You’re not out of the woods yet. As you push the button 14 times willing the elevator to get there before you are captured, every muscle in your body is tense and ready to fly.
The door finally opens and you dart in without even looking to see if there is anyone else in there. You realize that you are not alone. But what could have been outright disaster is only a minor annoyance.
You see Kelly from engineering. A nod in recognition is all that is required. Phew! That was a close one. You finally get back to your desk without incident and are able to spend the rest of the day getting some long overdue work done. Despite a couple of close calls, you managed to make it through the day unscathed.
Lock Yourself In the Storage Closet
You lock the door to the storage closet. No one can get to you now. You hug your knees and rock back and forth waiting for the apocalypse. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! You jolt awake to the sound of your alarm. It was just a dream--a horrible dream! Then it dawns on you that it's Monday morning and you better get ready for work….
Return To Your Desk
You go back to your desk and pull up the number for the third party maintenance provider. Good thing that a few months ago when the equipment went EOSL and you couldn’t get support through Dell anymore, you convinced the boss to get a hardware support contract. Perfect. Not my problem. ALL FIXED.
The rest of your day goes smoothly and few if any of your coworkers even realize there was a problem. Even when Sally from HR calls you about her wireless mouse, you don’t even roll your eyes. A slight smile escapes as you suggest changing the batteries.
Finally it’s time to go home. You are the office hero and have escaped disaster for another day!