Now this is the geek community, so I’m sure there’s no shortage of you reading this that fall under the category of “The IT Guy” or “The IT Gal” at your place of business. And those of you that do know it’s a pain in the ass sometimes. I’ll say it, it’s downright rough some days. In addition to corralling what is sometimes nothing short of a kudzu growth of cabling in your server racks or poring through lines of codes and executing scripts, you have your non-tech co-workers (or friends, or family) that see computers and the entire IT field as magic.
(Which I’m not going to lie, it kind of is. I’m typing this on a system many times more powerful than the system NASA had to shoot up Apollo 13. At a fraction of the size)
But what admins do as basically keep the world spinning in this here our digital age. Whether it’s managing users at the office, fixing tech that’s gone horrible broken, or basically just keeping everything up so our 21st century way of life can continue. We have the iron will of a Green Lantern. The tech savvy of Batman. And the baller caretaker qualities of Alfred Pennyworth.
And through all the hard work and headaches, most other people don’t realize the importance of what they do. Soon the admin crowd gets commoditized like a tool in a toolbox to fix what’s broken. Sometimes there’s not so much of a “thanks” for working their mojo, and from what I’ve seen personally and heard from friends and colleagues is that even the simple phrase “hello” is replaced with just launching into whatever problem needs to be fixed.
The marketers and sales folks get the glory for making the dough and the people that deal with customers or calm down irate clients get the goods. Parties, gift baskets, even cards that show their appreciation for what they do. All the while the tech crowd stew in their geek caves sifting through work orders that are expected to be done instantly by magic and keeping your digital world safer to boot, while others pat each other on the back. And I’m not going to lie, it’s a little embittering.
So why do admins have the right to be more bitter than all the other departments in the world’s corporate structure? Respect. That’s all it boils down to. Someone will always be there to bug us when something’s not working, or freak out about when something’s going to be fixed, or when that impossible project is going to be done on top of the other things that need to be done. But when everything’s working great, and problems don’t even show up on users’ radar because the tech team has it well under control before they even know about it, there’s no one there the hold up the “10’s” on the scorecards for them. And I don’t think that’s fair. There’s no other team that has to stay on site and work the occasional 24 hour shift just so business can run without issue. Or drop everything they’re doing on a relaxing Saturday afternoon just to log in or come in and make everything is OK. Or be on the phone for two hour calls on a vacation thousands of miles away. While you’re comfortable in your bed, your sysadmin could be on the clock.
Think about it. Sysadmins and techs are responsible for every email you send and receive, every phone call you make, and every aspect of day-to-day business that involves a computer – which let’s face it, is everything. We go out of our way to try and teach people about digital responsibility, viruses and malware to look out for, and just how to stay safe in the digital age.
So a few years ago, the concept of System Administrator’s Appreciation Day was founded, to take place on the last Friday of every july to have a day for the techs. Today my team celebrated with cheesesteaks and appreciation for lunch for our entire technical department – because while most other folks celebrate all the time for hitting sales goals or landing a client, we celebrated ourselves for keeping the ship afloat.
So today’s for you, admins. You’re the heroes today. The Doctors, the Kyle Rayners, the Bruce Waynes. Whether you’re just starting out putting together your playbook, been in the game for a while running the show in the enterprise, the tech that does wiring, PBX, Database, Domino, Exchange, AD, Web, or any of the other oh so many custom systems that are out there – I salute you. Having a career that started as an IT intern as a teenager and ending up in the ranks of project and tech management, I know what kind of nightmare scenarios you’ve been through, and what kinds of hell you’ve been in. I appreciate what you all do to keep our world spinnin’ round. Keep up the good work folks. Here’s to raising a TARDIS mug of turbo-charged coffee in your honor.
As for the rest of you – As much as it may seem like it I’m not writing this to admonish you or call you bad people. I just want you to be aware of how things work. These techs that probably make your job possible to even do, don’t solve problems with a magic wand. It takes research, training, practice, and a lot of trial and error to learn things and get things done. It’s the type of work where the consequence of mistakes is business coming to a grinding halt. And unfortunately there’s far less recognition than what’s deserved. And we’re not looking for a parade or parties or anything crazy like that. Just one day out of 365 where maybe you bring up something other than how your computer’s not running right, or just saying hello like we’re normal people. Well you know, normal for a geek.