back to article Trainee techie ran away and hid after screwing up a job, literally

Thank the Valar it’s Friday, because that means the weekend beckons and a new instalment of On-Call, The Register’s weekly reader-contributed tale of tech support tangles. This week meet “Theo” who offered us a story of a techie colleague who was put in charge of a trainee as they worked together on the “second fixing” a large …

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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    What a way to screw up.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Quite. He needs to take a good hard look at himself in the mirror.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No way. I'm still running.

      2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        At Lee D...

        Nah, that would reflect badly on his self image.

    2. Adam 1 Silver badge

      he didn't screw up at all

      It was clearly horizontal in direction or it couldn't have hit the door.

    3. Big John Silver badge

      > "What a way to screw up."

      It certainly had some incredible sound effects. That's the mark of a true klutz. Think 'Jerry Lewis' on a good day.

      It must have sounded kinda like this...

    4. Mi Tasol

      Not uncommon unfortunately.

      My sparky says that builders installing lining after the wiring has been installed often use long screws that go straight through the wiring and last week my neighbour who is having a new house built turned on the water for the first time only to discover an hour later lots of water flowing through the plaster board on two sides of a common wall because the builder had put two screws through one pipe in the bathroom.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Cheap building practices are cheap.

        This house (and all other enclosed human space on the property) has little metal plates on the wall studs over the areas where wiring & plumbing pass through. Stops any chance of drywall screws (or nails, if your building code is archaic) impacting plumbing or wires. Simples.

  3. chivo243 Silver badge

    He started a new life

    with a new name in an adjacent town, and works no where near any tech stuff.

    And, throughout the years, I've always *cough* owned up to my mistakes, informing my superior of my handy work.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: He started a new life

      For such things, that I feel out of my comfort zone, I work on the basis of:

      - I don't *want* to do that, it's not my core job. Get someone who can do it in.

      - I *can* do that, if it's necessary, but to be honest I'm not confident at doing it. You could train me for a million years and I'll never be very good with a power tool.

      - If you *make* me do that, I'll do what I can but I make no promises. Save it for when a "quick fix" is all you need, not a long-term solution. If I feel something's too risky (ladders, drilling through certain walls, etc.) then I will just refuse.

      - Likely whatever I do will work. But if you complain that it's ugly then I really don't know what to do about that except try again and likely end up with more holes/problems.

      - If I mess up like this guy did, which is quite likely, don't say I didn't warn you.

      I have to explain to my workplaces "Yes, I happen to work within the huge category that is IT. But that doesn't mean I will crawl up antique clock towers and put in a perfectly invisible bunch of Cat5 with pristine in-keeping containment, perfectly angled cables, and the tiniest of discrete holes to poke them through. If you must make me, rather than just calling a company to do that, I pretty much guarantee that you'll get Gigabit. That's about it."

      Basic rule: If it involves a powertool, you don't want me doing it. I'll happily put up shelves, curtains, I have laid a loft floor, and built sheds. They are all perfectly acceptable. To me. But in work, I will defer to a guy more skilled than me: the maintenance guy, or someone you get in.

      P.S. They couldn't do my job in a billion years, as nice as they are. So don't be surprised that I won't do theirs when they are infinitely better at it than me.

      1. Olivier2553

        Re: He started a new life

        "Basic rule: If it involves a powertool, you don't want me doing it."

        Basic rule in IT: all your tools are powertools :)

        1. Spanners Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: He started a new life

          Basic rule in IT: all your tools are powertools :)

          I rarely use "powertools" as defined by most people - electric drill, power sander etc. My tools are generally ones and zeroes and they do need power to work.

      2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

        Re: He started a new life

        Pretty much the same here. I let people know up front what I can't do well, or at all. On the flip side, I'm more than willing to do what I do well for others. Building up banks of favors is a fine US Navy tradition and I built up a lot.

        Curiously, you don't want me on power tools either. Now if you want an glass clear waxed deck (floor), I do those very nicely indeed. That's above and beyond engineering, bordering on magic.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: He started a new life

          > Curiously, you don't want me on power tools either.

          Weirdly, I seem to be the only one here who's ok with using power tools.

          That being said, I have a fairly extensive "machine shop" at home and am custom building my first 5 axes CNC machine presently.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: He started a new life

          " if you want an glass clear waxed deck (floor), I do those very nicely indeed. "

          Can you do those such that they aren't dangerous when wet?

          That _would_ be magic.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: He started a new life

            I know a guy who put spar varnish (six coats!) on the teak deck of a Cheoy Lee 30'. Sure looked pretty. Oh, how we laughed. Until we found him dead one morning. He slipped on the deck in a heavy dew fall, fell overboard & split his head open on his dock box.

            I use SEMCO once or twice a year. That's on boat decks, the deck around the house, the stairs, the hardwood floors in the house, name it, if it's wood, horizontal & gets foot traffic it gets SEMCO ... Mirror finishes on flooring is for the Better Homes & Gardens set, not the real world.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: He started a new life

              > I use SEMCO once or twice a year.

              Is this the right stuff?

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: He started a new life

                No. This.

                It's ostensibly for teak, but I've had good luck with it on oak, redwood, and other flooring/decking. Not affiliated, just a user, non-scientific, a testimonial, etc.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: He started a new life

                  > It's ostensibly for teak ...

                  Thanks, that's good info. :)

      3. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: He started a new life

        Basic rule: If it involves a powertool, you don't want me doing it.

        I suppose this is good for the rest of us, since it means you'd never contemplate a career change and take up dentistry.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: He started a new life

          a career change and take up dentistry.

          I've never understood what drives normal, non-psycopathic, people to take up dentistry anyway, even if they were competent with power tools. Yet they do. Funny old world, sometimes.

          My wife's at the dentist as I type. I'm contemplating a Friday icon ==> instead.

          1. DropBear Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: He started a new life

            ...maybe a laughing gas addiction and an unlimited supply...?

            1. Mark 85 Silver badge

              Re: He started a new life

              ...maybe a laughing gas addiction and an unlimited supply...?

              Ah.. The Little Shop of Horrors dentist's reasoning.

          2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: He started a new life

            My guess is people who couldn't make the grade as a doctor?

            I'd imagine the money is good. It better had be for that job.

            ( Paris, because oral )

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: He started a new life

              > My guess is people who couldn't make the grade as a doctor?

              In Australia, dentists get their medical (doctor) degree first. So, all qualified dentists are also technically doctors too (and can proscribe medicine).

              They're just not GP's, and don't pretend to be.

              1. mathew42

                Re: He started a new life

                Dentists do not typically obtain a medical degree although there can be significant overlap with a medical degree in the early years. Dentists have limited prescribing rights.

                Interestingly most dental work is not covered by Medicare.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: He started a new life

                  > Dentists do not typically obtain a medical degree ...

                  Interesting, do you have a source for that? Asking because the dentists I know all have medical degrees as well. That's why I thought it was a requirement.

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: He started a new life

                    Please note that this web site is read world-wide. It also gets comments from folks all over the world. So when stating as a fact "The rules for $PROFESSION are x, y and z", it would do the intelligent commentard well to mention the jurisdiction they are speaking of.

          3. kain preacher Silver badge

            Re: He started a new life

            I've never understood what drives normal, non-psycopathic, people to take up dentistry anyway, even if they were competent with power tools. Yet they do. Funny old world, sometimes.

            Phil O'Sophical

            My last dentist was also a lawyer. He did medical malpractice .

            1. Martin
              Happy

              Re: He started a new life

              There is an Agatha Christie book which had a love interest between a dentist and a young lady. A friend of the young lady said to her something like "A dentist! Why, if he was going to kiss you, you'd feel he was going to say, 'Open a little wider, please.'"

              (If you're interested, the book is Death in the Clouds. It's one of her better ones, imho.)

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: He started a new life

                an Agatha Christie book which had a love interest between a dentist and a young lady.

                Real story, so anon to protect the guilty ...

                At one point my desk was tucked in a corner and within earshot of the receptionist and MD's PA (who also doubled up as "overflow receptionist"). They used to forget that I was there, what with the 6ft screen I hid behind - and I got to hear some "interesting" things, and some things I wish there was mind bleach for ! At one point the PA was going out with a dentist - so yes, there were dentist stories and the same sort of "but where's the magic when you kiss ?" questions.

                And then the conversation turned to going out with a gynaecologist - and of course then there really were comments of "but it be 'seen it all before' wouldn't it".

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: He started a new life

                  "going out with a gynaecologist"

                  Many moons ago, I dated a gal who had been married to a gynecologist. At some point the obvious subject came up. She seemingly changed the subject, and asked if I would look at her new computer, she couldn't get Procomm to cooperate with BIX. I asked something brilliant, like "What, now? I thought we were going out!" ... then the ball dropped.

                  There is a reason that jokes about the mechanic's car not running, the plumber's pipes leaking and the electrician's fuses blowing exist ...

          4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: He started a new life

            "I've never understood what drives normal, non-psycopathic, people to take up dentistry anyway"

            Money. Or it used to be.

          5. usbac

            Re: He started a new life

            @Phil

            "I've never understood what drives normal, non-psycopathic, people to take up dentistry anyway, even if they were competent with power tools. Yet they do. Funny old world, sometimes."

            To me there is a long list of professions that I wouldn't want to do, but like dentistry, I'm very glad someone does! It gives me a lot of respect for those people.

          6. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
            Paris Hilton

            Re: He started a new life

            "I've never understood what drives normal, non-psycopathic, people to take up dentistry anyway,"

            take a look at the starting salary for a NHS dentist. then consider that after 3 or 4 years of the relative shitty NHS wages, go into private practice and make a very good living out of a 9 to 5 job... then a few years after that, go work in the rich end of LA, and retire at 45..... while we are still fixing people shitty printers that they dont know how to change the toner cartridges...

            paris... well I bet her dentist is well paid for plucking pubes out of her teeth.

          7. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: He started a new life

            > I've never understood what drives normal, non-psycopathic, people to take up dentistry anyway, even if they were competent with power tools.

            Some of it seems to be ego driven. Like "being a doctor = $$$", but as it takes more study than being a doctor, it should "make more money".

            The (good) dentists I know generally get sick of it after a few years of working anyway, and are now trying to figure out what to do next.

          8. fredds

            Re: He started a new life

            MONEY. They wouldn't fossick around in people's mouths otherwise. I worked as a dental mechanic for 40 years, and they are tight as fishes arseholes. Also, didn't have the university requirements to be a doctor or vet, so went for the next best thing.

      4. Schultz
        Thumb Up

        LeeD: "I work on the basis of: - I don't *want* to do that, it's not my core job. ..."

        So then you do the dishes and bring out the garbage, ...

        That's the deal I try to get when I hear this particular argument..

    2. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: He started a new life

      Indeed. Mistakes happen. Own up to them, and put them right if possible. If not, either have good insurance or be prepared to pay others to put them right.

      Case in point, the other week... (I'm an electrician by trade, with a solid grounding in telecomms and data cabling, I'm not your 'over tighten zipties on the heavily stapled cat6' electrician). In fixing cable trunking to a wall, I hit a 32 amp power circuit buried in a metal conduit in a concrete wall. Out of the zone prescribed by the almighty wiring regulations. Not technically my fault (metal detector would've bleeped at random due to rebar, power detectors didn't work because metal conduit earthed, and the SDS drill didn't discriminate between concrete, steel, pvc, and copper. Just the click from the distribution board and a flicker on the lights warned me.). However I spent an unpaid half hour digging it out, cutting the conduit without cutting the cable inside (delicate work that!), splicing the cable, reconnecting the earthed conduit, and patching the wall. Customer was impressed and happy.

    3. shedied

      Re: He started a new life

      I think I see now why you prefer nails. For EVERYTHING.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Key word is "Trainee"

    This is my problem with this one. They are a "trainee", so you monitor all their work until you decide you think they can do stuff alone. To many companies make the "Trainee" make tea and sandwiches, as in this one. At which point the "trainee" will then go "Sod it then. This is my first job you've asked me to do alone, all I've done all week is make you tea and sandwiches. You've not really trained me properly & I'm now nervous to do this first job on my own. I don't want to ask for help as all you're say is "Are you a soft lad?". If I fuck it up, not my problem as you should be monitoring my work".

    Amusing as the article is, it does annoy me how "trainiees" get treated. I'm not saying I'd be good at helping them myself, I know I wouldn't, but I don't like seeing them be used as tea boys/ladies, I still see that as a form of bullying.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Key word is "Trainee"

      "I don't like seeing them be used as tea boys/ladies, I still see that as a form of bullying."

      A fair point if that's all they're being used as; trainees should be trained and that's where most of their time should go. But someone has to get the tea so it might as well be the one whose time is least valuable in terms of the work being paid for.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Key word is "Trainee"

        But someone has to get the tea so it might as well be the one whose time is least valuable

        If they're that useless they probably make crap tea anyway. If you want a job doing well, etc.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Key word is "Trainee"

          "If they're that useless they probably make crap tea anyway."

          Tea-making training is the first thing to tackle. People don't know that? No wonder the country's going down the tubes etc. etc.

      2. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Key word is "Trainee"

        But someone has to get the tea so it might as well be the one whose time is least valuable in terms of the work being paid for.

        Drinking tea is a part of the job?

        1. kain preacher Silver badge

          Re: Key word is "Trainee"

          "Drinking tea is a part of the job?"

          Depends some times you need coffee to mask the whiskey.

        2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

          Re: Key word is "Trainee"

          Drinking tea is a part of the job?

          Without tea I wouldn't get beyond checking the e-mails in the morning. And with checking I mean opening the e-mail client and see how many new mails I've got and not reading any. Let alone any other even more sophisticated tasks.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Key word is "Trainee"

          Yes, drinking tea IS part of the job. Which is why I always bring a 1L steel thermos with me on any job out of office.

          My colleagues have learned that;

          1. Don't bother me when I pour a cup or take the first few sips, and

          2. Do NOT touch the 'Flask of Calmness'.

      3. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Re: Key word is "Trainee"

        Reminds me of when a newish middle management wonk was fuming at the lack of milk yet wouldn't go across the yard to the front office where it was always delivered.

        Unfortunately for him, one of the directors (also a very good engineer) overheard, came in the room and made a show of checking the fridge, then in a very loud voice said "No milk? Ok I'll pop over and get it."

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