Where are the Fire Extinguisher request forms?

In the teeming corporate jungle, IT (Information Technology) is its own Lost World: an often inexplicable and foreboding landscape of barely-navigable technological terrain, populated by eccentric explorers whose job it is to build bridges and forge new pathways for the daily rush of techno-tourists (average workers). Oh, sure, there are a lot of fairly tech-savvy folk in the offices and cubicles of your average company— this is the 21st century, right?—but always, in the end, as the lengthy spiel of poorly-phrased, exponentially self-referential supposedly “simplified” technical instructions grows ever more complex (ultimately garbling itself into an M.C. Escher impossible-staircase of indecipherable technobabble), there comes a time when one requires the services of an expert to act as translator. And to tell us— in plain and simple human language (NOT Spacely-Sprockets-Robot-Speak)— which damn button to push in order to stop that incessant bleeping.

In a corporate utopia of superhuman Ayn Randian perfection, all of the IT personnel would be stolid, taciturn, crew-cut-headed mental giants who can repair anything and everything, be it electronic, mechanical, or digital, with the twirl of a deco chrome wrench and a grim smile. Or, like Scotty aboard the USS Enterprise, who can bitch mightily about the situation and toss off numerous ancient Celtic curses with a spiffy Scottish accent… but ultimately pull the company’s fat out of the fire at the very last second, then buy everyone in his department a hefty round of drinks at the corner pub after work.

There ARE people like that in the IT industry. Lots. But in these days of dubious online degrees and self-taught hacker/slackers, there are also a whole lot of IT guys out there navigating the corporate highways with their brain controls set on AutoPilot. IT workers like these, who are unwilling to be part of the solution and never content to be merely “part” of the problem— seem to have taken the proverbial bull by the horns and have graduated to being MOST of the problem. Or at the very least— a seriously distracting adjunct to the problem. Annoying? You betcha. Especially if you’ve got a report due before end-of-work today and your precious desktop window into the company datacloud (that’s trendy slang for “even MORE networked off-site computers than there used to be, wow, impressive, right?”) has decided to seize up and won’t do anything but buzz and click annoyingly at you.

So when a lazy, untrained, totally-unqualified new hire decides to pad his personal slack-off time by purposely botching up his assigned computer station and pleading ignorance, it can really make a mess. Plus, if the IT professional who responds to fix the problem would rather be elsewhere (designing new X-rated hidden levels for Grand Theft Auto IV, say, or maybe writing Dr.Who slash fanfic), then a small easily-corrected problem might quickly expand into a serious meltdown.

Such scenarios, left unattended, will swiftly grow to resemble a lost episode of some crazy black & white 1950’s TV Space Show: Captain Billy Whizbang and his Amazing Rocket Rangers— except not as cool or funny, and minus the guy in the space helmet and the gorilla suit. Or…maybe not. In corporate hell, you can’t even DEFINITELY rule out the gorilla suit.

The amount of time and effort some people will expend in an attempt to avoid the tiniest shred of productivity is truly one of the great ironies of the modern machine age.