What I’ve Learned

What I’ve learned over the past two years contracting as a PC Tech at a state agency:

All you really need to survive here is to basically show up for work and don’t piss anyone off.

Expediency, efficiency, and providing good customer service are not requisite—and in some cases are actively discouraged in spite of their newly adopted bullshit continuous improvement “Kaizen” initiative.

And lastly, it’s all about power. Power over people. Power to control. Fiefdoms abound.

A few examples:

Unlike every. other. place. I’ve worked, we don’t have complete rights to the tools within Active Directory. We can no longer delete computers (sometimes necessary to troubleshoot them dropping off the network), nor can we change users’ groups or permissions. ALL OF THAT requires generating a ticket to the Service Desk, who then routes it to Access Management, where it can languish for weeks before being addressed.

Just last week I had a device that had fallen off the network. This particular customer is already a PITA, so I wanted to get it fixed right away. I went to delete the object from AD and I got an error that I didn’t have rights. What the hell? I’d done this dozens of times before. So I apologized to the customer, went back to my desk, called the Service Desk and asked them to delete it.

They didn’t have permission. So I called Access Management and spoke to one of the drones there. She wanted to know why I wanted the object deleted and recreated, and after an extended discussion she agreed that needed to be done and supposedly deleted and recreated it.

I returned to the customer’s desk and attempted to rejoin the domain. Same error. At this point I said fuck it, and returned to my desk, created a new object with the same asset tag number and an “L” designation (for laptop) instead of “T” (for tablet). I returned to the customer’s desk, renamed the machine and finally got it rejoined and back online. Was it kosher? No. Was the customer happy? Yes.

We also got chewed out yesterday for occasionally making users local administrators on their machines. This is sometimes necessary to  install software under their profiles, or to allow software to run properly. (Surefire way of telling if it’s a permissions issue is for me to check it under my profile. If it runs fine there but not under the customer’s, it’s a permissions issue.)

Apparently we aren’t supposed to do this. (I can’t find this spelled out in any documentation anywhere.) If someone needs local admin rights there has to be written justification and—you guessed it—a ticket generated for Access Management to move the person into the proper security group. My question is this: how much damage can a local administrator really do, other than completely fucking up their own machine? They don’t have rights to mess with anything on the network, so worst case scenario would be that a machine would have to be reimaged. I guess it’s another one of the many on-the-fly directives that have gone into effect without notifying the people affected. Anyhow, we were informed that if this happened again there would be disciplinary action!

Whatever, bitch. Whatever.

And as one final example of the bullshit “continuous improvement” initiative, at every other place I’ve worked, I’ve kept a couple “spare” ready-to-deploy computers around to swap out in the event of an emergency. I suggested this to my boss and it was immediately shot down. “Oh, we can’t just have state equipment sitting around.” Oh no…if a machine goes down it has to be picked up, sent to Hardware for repair/reimaging, picked up from there and then transported back; a process that normally takes 2-3 days. God forbid I should be able to swap out a piece of equipment in less than an hour and allow the customer to continue working. Efficiency? NOT AT THIS PLACE.

Lastly, in the area of Customer Service, I am appalled at what passes for it around here. One of my coworkers (let’s call her Maria) is a lifer. The woman is in her 40s, and this place is the only place she’s ever worked. She crosses every “t” and dots every “i”. She has paper copies of everything she’s ever worked on locked away in file cabinets in case anything she’s done is questioned. EVERYTHING she does has a process, and if something requires thinking outside that process, you can almost see the hard drive light in the middle of her forehead flashing wildly, not being able to access the data. And yet in spite of all these years of “service,” her lack of knowledge about basic tech stuff is flabbergasting. There’s no curiosity, no initiative. And never mind her complete lack of customer service skills:

Projector stops working. I pick up the ticket.

“Oh, we don’t support that. Tell the customer to contact the vendor directly.”

“What if it’s just a matter of it simply not being plugged in? Don’t you even go look?”

“No. Note in the ticket that customer needs to contact the vendor and close it out.”


(As it turned out, I did go check it out and it was simply unplugged.)