Emails From the Command-Line: Passcodes to Hell

By Ethan Net on at

Wednesday. Again. When will I learn that the wine at the back of the fridge in my local Pricedropper, marked '£2.99 Use by Dec 2011' is not necessarily a good idea. I'm not feeling too bright this morning, so I sneak into the building 'round the back via the goods entrance. From here I can get to my office, bypassing reception, the cafeteria and the directors' offices. It takes ages and involves many stealth-like manoeuvres, but it's worth it. Sitting down, I wait for things to come into focus. Knock knock. "Oh for goodness sake," I sigh.

But no, it's one of our copywriting teams pressing their noses up against the glass. I let the girls in with a smile.

"Morning ladies, how are we?"

"Yeah, great thanks Ethan, just thought we'd drop these off for you and, er, the other one." She means Colin. Colin spends most of his time in the basement doing... well, nobody really knows, but he's easy to recognise. Long black hair, very pale skin, goatie, dressed in black every day, permanent look of sorrow on his face. Bloody nice bloke though, who works with Perl, Ada and Ruby. Whoever they are.

"Oh thanks!" I say, surprised, "What are they?"

"VIP invites to our charity fundraiser in a couple of weeks; it'd be great if you could be there. Kind of a thank you for helping us out with the computer stuff last week on that pitch." That'd be the one where they forgot to copy the work onto their laptops, before taking their laptops, then.

"Great. Sounds excellent, we'll be there. Thank-you very much." It's always nice to get some form of acknowledgment in this job, especially when it's VIP tickets to an event. Open bar, free food all night -- maybe even some good-looking ladies to take my mind off the gruelling 9 to 5.

Before my mind can wander any more, it's that blasted phone again, ringing in my ear. Who is it, I wonder... Oh, it's that Sophia Ruxley-Scott-Cooperhouse (Daddy is very very rich.) This'll be good:

"Hi Sophia, how can I help?" I ask intrepidly.

"Ooooooooohh I can't print anything with this new printer copier thingy, can you come and help pleeeeeeeeeease?"

Phone support is not advisable with Sophia; it's a visit every time. So off I trundle to the 7th floor, via the cafeteria armed with all the printer IDs and passcodes, as I bet she didn't read the email last week detailing exactly how to use that 'new printer copier thingy.' There she is, staring at the ceiling again.

Wow -- she did read the email, and even wrote down her passcode to allow her to use the new copiers. Amazed, I ask her what happens when she tries to print something: "Weeeeell I put the paper thingy on the top bit, put the lid thing down a bit, press the green button, I think, and it asks for my name and passcode."

"Looking good so far," I say, "try it for me now."

I watch as she looks at her notebook and types her name in. She does it to the letter. But when she tries to put in her passcode, she puts in different numbers.

"Hang on," I say, "that's not your code now, is it?"

"Oh! Do the numbers have to be in that order then?"

From that moment on I knew which direction my day was going, and the only thing that kept me going was the thought of VIP tickets to the charity bash with our Creative Department in a fortnight... That's going to be a good one...

Walking home from the station in what feels like a week later, I find myself outside the Pricedropper. Oh well, it's only three quid...


Ethan Net is a pseudonym for an overworked and underpaid IT Manager. It doesn’t matter where he works or who he is — unless he happens to be your IT Manager. Look out for his column every Wednesday afternoon here on Gizmodo UK, and catch up on his previous work over here.

Image Credit: Server Room from Shutterstock