I AM NOT ONE FOR WORKPLACE MEETINGS. Some folks love them, I know. I loathe them. I get tired and cranky and edgy and itchy. Yes, itchy-scratchy like wearing a wet wool turtleneck in 24 degrees Celsius heat. Even after years of attending these dull get-togethers, I have not yet managed to find ways to remain engaged, interested, or participatory.
I do admit, however, that there are certain types of meetings that I do enjoy. You know what I mean, the kind that are purposeful; one with an agenda, one that requires a resolution, or outcome of some sort, a meeting that involves no more than five people.
One of the most memorable meetings I attended is probably better described as a work session with a coworker. The two of us were to immediately come up with a training activity as directed by our manager (an inept chap whose management style was entertainingly laughable), but after two hours we were both frustrated and out of ideas. She had her way of doing things, I had mine, and neither our styles nor our ideas meshed, so we asked for more direction, brought in our boss’s boss for clarification and took one more kick at the can. In the end, we found a solution to present at the afternoon team meeting. We agreed. Good. Just in time, too.
My colleague had a telephone appointment with her kid’s daycare director, so we disconnected our laptops and packed up our markers and notepads. Admittedly, I am a little fuzzy on the next turn of events, but the keypad on conference phone became jammed. I ignored the mess of blue and grey cables snaking out of the router. I was smart enough not to mess with that setup. As it was, it had been a bit of a crap shoot finding the right cable to plug into my laptop when I arrived. The only solution I saw was to unplug the electrical cord and plug it back into the outlet, but that didn’t work; I gave up and we headed back to our desks.
Things got exciting when IT personnel were dispatched to third floor, our floor
By the time I arrived at my cubicle, across the office floor, the network had crashed. Some folks lost connection immediately, while others were losing their connections as I docked my laptop in its workstation.
I was giddy with the thought that our afternoon meeting would be cancelled.
Then things really got exciting. The IT techs were dispatched to the third floor. They buzzed from cubicle to cubicle checking the identifying number on each workstation’s telecommunications jack. I chatted with one of the guys. I followed him for a bit asking him questions. Without a connection to the LAN, I was unable to work. And without work, I bore easily. And when I get bored, I tend to chat.
He told me that the network went down. I told him about the conference phone. He whipped out his BlackBerry like a gun from its holster and rapidly thumbed notes into Remedy.
As the morning turned to afternoon and the afternoon dragged on, I spent time chatting with folks as we waited out the hours until our team meeting.
In the meantime, I continued my conversation with a different techie, talking through the events and summarizing our actions as if rehearsing for a court date. After all, the network was down in two locations—ours and the office building where executives and senior management team worked. There would be some pissed off people.
One of the sales administrators whose system was still working looked up the Remedy ticket. An unauthorized disconnection of a conference call was stated as the cause.
The IT guy showed me the problem. My colleague had pulled the cable from her laptop and plugged it back into the router on the table creating a switching loop, or a bridge loop, or whatever, apparently confusing the network.
While my colleague was quick to deny her involvement, I readily accepted responsibility. Bringing down the computer network of a national company in not one, but two head office locations gives me renegade cache, even if only as an accessory after the fact.
While not every meeting can have an outcome as dramatic as this, here’s to hoping.