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THE STAIN OF 

BAER PAULSON


J. Lawrence Ingram 


    As a technician, Baer Paulson was the top shelf Sales Engineer in his company.  He could be counted on to not only fix what he was sent out to fix, but the Sales Team loved him as he could calm down the most beligerent of clients.  Paulson was always quick with a word or smile that could disarm the most irate of IT managers or CIO's; who felt slighted in how their software maintenance clause or contract had been mis-managed; or a slew of other things which Paulson could do to keep the unwashed or irate or the nuisance from calling the Account Managers; who were too too busy in the grind for new sales numbers to deal with old business, also known as: Last Months Purchase Order.  Besides his business acumen, Paulson was a technical wizard with the companies' software.  He didn't just understand the ins and outs, he knew it's innards.  If anyone wanted to get right down to it, Paulson knew the soul of the software products his company sold unlike any other technician or Sales Engineer.

In a building, some floors downward, where a large farm of file servers resided, Paulson sat in front of an older file server which had recently ceased to be an older file server, and listened to an overly-designer dressed, nasty as can be little IT manager who was quickly ceasing to be an IT manager and was becoming one those sorts of orifices that should best remain puckered... Always.

"This has got to be costing us close to a million dollars an hour while it's down."  The snotty little IT Manager snidely remarked.  "I hope you can get the server back up quickly..."

    "Quickly as we can..." Paulson interjected to interrupt the IT Manager on his own behalf.  "Can you get onto another machine for me and see..."

"You don't have it reset already...?"  The IT Manager questioned in a 'don't tell me it's fixed already' tone of sorts - which really equated to the glaring inability of the IT Manager or his inept staff to troubleshoot technical issues such as this.

    "What is the MTU of your VPN?"  Paulson asked.

The IT Manager reached into a pocket of his designer slacks, produced an expensive-looking Mont-Blanc Pen, huffed and scribbled down a number on a sticky note and gave the sticky note and pen to Paulson; who adhered the sticky note to the computer monitor-then put the expensive pen between his teeth while he was observing the server's monitor. The server made a series of beeps which indicated it was coming back from it's coma.  Paulson smiled his little smile of satisfaction while he quickly entered the scrawled numbers on the sticky note the IT Manager gave him into an application on the server.  He looked down at another screen and tried to reach for his bag, then took the expensive pen from his mouth.

"You wouldn't mind handing me that thumb drive in the top of my bag would you...?" Paulson asked the IT Manager.

    "This?"  The IT Manager replied in a way of saying he didn't fetch things for technicians - especially Paulson since Paulson didn't even work here.

"Plug it in, and wait for the computer to see it."  Paulson ordered.  "Once we can open it up, I have something for this issue."

    "I didn't know we  had an issue."  The IT Manager-turned-snotty kid shot back.

"Yep, and you know why, don't you?"  Paulson was quick to retort as a mental smack-down to put the IT Manager back into a more congenial perspective.

The IT Manager huffed a serpent-like hiss of disgust at Paulson.  "Because we didn't update our maintenance contract..."

"Thats correct.  You guys aren't getting the latest updates and patches because your company doesn't have a maintenance contract any more."  Paulson looked the little designer-dressed, snot-bag of an IT Manager dead in the eye.  "You're not going to get anywhere without it, and the freebee train ain't gonna come to town no more either."

Baer Paulson knew the IT Manager was at best a package boy in the org chart of the gigantic corporation, and couldn't buy a pencil, or for that matter, go to the restroom, without four different sign-offs. 

"Maybe we should have my guys talk with Jenkins?"  Paulson asserted.  "If you guys don't, like I say, you know the freebee's are to end after this one."

The IT Manager knew Paulson was right on the money, but always did his best to be the gatekeeper to keep Paulson and the rest of the real sales people, who worked this account on a regular basis, out of the hair of the CIO.  Baer Paulson sat back and looked at the now revitalized server, as it began to open applications, and was quickly coming back online for use.

"Looks like we have a winner Houston!  I have to check in..." Paulson said to the IT Manager while eyeing the server's screen while digging into his pockets for his cellphone. 

Baer Paulson was beginning to dislike, better said, was sick of, better said, hated the IT Manager.  On the other hand, there was no love lost from the IT Manager back at Paulson.  Both had lived in a sort of cold-war detente' as the IT Manager bitched, nagged, and cajoled Paulson's company to keep sending a technician out on site to fix things which could be fixed with various remote tools where a technician could touch the server remotely from anywhere on the internet world-wide.  Paulson's company on the other hand kept sending Baer out on what always seemed to be the proverbial Friday afternoon server breakdown and had hoped this would make for a situation to sell an updated maintenance contract.

"I don't imagine you need to do that here." The IT Manager stated sharply now that his server was back up and running. "I think it's time for you to go..."

"Just give me a minute." Paulson said as he speed-dialed a number on his phone.

"I need you to move it out to the waiting area.  I have another meeting starting here in a minute or two."  The IT Manager looked to Paulson in a pained sort of way; a way Paulson didn't quite understand at first, but was soon to figure out.

What Paulson, nor his company, had realized is what the greasy little, over-dressed, snake of an IT Manager was really doing.  The IT Manager had gotten rid of the current contract by letting it lapse and kept promising a renewal meeting, as a sort of carrot to keep sending Paulson on a plane out to him.  Second, the sneaky little IT Manager had been getting Paulson in and out of the building without a lot of notice from any others.  But what Paulson didn't get just yet was that the IT Manager was pawning off these freebee fixes as his own instead of Paulsons!  This little rat-bastard was standing over Paulson's shoulder on every trip in a sort of self-education of Paulson's troubleshooting technique and software tips and tricks.

"I really need you to leave, and take it out of here." The IT Manager spoke in a sort of worried demand.  "Like I say, I have another meeting in a few minutes, and I need to get the area ready for it."

    "Need some help with moving the table back over there?" Paulson asked in a sort of confused way.

"Never mind," The IT Manager huffed... "Let's get you up and out of here, maybe you can make an earlier flight."

    "Hardly." Paulson relpied.  "There's only two flights a day out of this little rat hole of a town, and I won't get that until 6:50pm this evening.  I have all day.  If you want, I have Roberts on the phone and he's inviting the both of us to lunch."

"That's nice, but you really need to..."  The IT Manager stopped in mid sentence as the elevator dinged the announcement that it's doors were about to open, and someone coming.

Paulson had packed his bag of parts, pieces, wires and other gizmo's he used to do his job, and ended his call with the sales rep Robertson.  The IT Manager-turned-rude teenager began to work Paulson over to a set of stairs, instead of the elevator.

"What's this?" Paulson asked.  "You ain't gonna make me walk up three flights up to get out of here?  The elevator is on it's way down."

    "Like I say, it must be some of the people for my meeting are arriving, and I just need you to move out of this area."  The IT Manager insisted.  "You're gonna have to take the stairs."

The elevator opened up at this precise moment, and of all people to arrive was the IT Managers immediate supervisor and CIO of the corporation.  As the CIO walked out of the elevator, and looked to see the IT Manager, and long-time Sales Engineer Baer Paulson.  The CIO seemed confused as to Paulson's presence, but none-the-less was glad to see Paulson.

"Hey, Paulson, long time..."  The CIO greeted Paulson.
    
    "Yeah... Jenkins, how's things goin' around here?"  Paulson replied.  "Did you ever get that car you were talking about?"

"Yes.  Really hauls ass.  I'm lovin' it..."  The CIO glowed, and began to look at the IT Manager.  "Did you get the server back up?"

    "We..."  Paulson spoke, but was cut off by the IT Manager.

        "Yes, but Baer was in the area, and I was just showing him out before my meeting here."  The IT Manager blurted.  "Baer was just on his way out."

"I wasn't aware of any meeting going on down here today.  What meeting is it?  It's not showing on the master calendar."  The CIO spoke to the IT Manager with hint of authority.  "Baer, glad you could stop in.  You just visiting?"

Paulson began to figure out he was the fix-it man for an IT Manager who couldn't find his butt with both hands, and now began to understand the situation.  The CIO looked a bit puzzled at how Paulson was now in a very secure area of the corporation, with no one else except the IT Manager.  Awkwardly, all three looked at each other, and then the CIO spoke.

"Would you care for a cup of coffee before you go Baer?  After all, it seems like it's been a long time since I've seen you here."  The IT Manager hated the fact that Paulson was on a first-name basis with the CIO

Paulson looked at the snot-bag IT Manager, the CIO, and accepted the coffee. 
   
"Sure, that would be great."

The three of them walked down the long side corridor of the underground server farm to the coffee bar and printer bay.  There were all sorts of reams of printer paper, printer cartridges, defacto storage of boxes, and of course multiple bins of gourmet coffee.  This particular printer bay didn't see a lot of people, so the coffee needed to be made.  The CIO looked to the IT Manager to get some coffee started, and asked Paulson to sit down at a table.

Paulson put his bag down, and sat in a chair facing the CIO who had his back to the opening of the printer bay.

"In town long?"  The CIO started a new conversation.

The IT Manager butted right back into the conversation.

    "Baer was around, so he wanted to stop in and see..."

"Actually," Paulson took charge of the conversation, "That one pain in the ass server went down hard and I..."

"I thought you were taking care of that?"  The CIO cut Paulson off and looked at the IT Manager.  "We don't have a contract now with these guys, and I know Baer doesn't come cheap."

The CIO and Paulson looked at the IT Manager.  The IT Manager spoke.

"Like I say, the server is back up and running in time for tonights batch run for payroll.  It seems to always be acting up now a days." 

    "I don't understand."  The CIO spoke.  "You've had to do several maintenance actions on that server.  It had a similar failure about a month and a half..."

    "Ago..."  Paulson butted in.  "But I was sent here to make sure that was fixed.  Robertson wants to have a..."

         "Look... the coffee is ready..."  The IT Manger butted right in.

Paulson was realizing he and his company were being cowed by this greasy little IT Manager into many costly maintenance actions for a company that no longer had a contract.  It dawned on him that the IT Manager had been doing some sort of slight of hand shenanagans here.  It's at this point which Paulson made a decision to set the IT Manager up for a fall, and set his company up for coming back in with a new mantenance contract situation.

"Like I say, he had a sixteen-oh-five error with a buffer overun which lead to some issues with CPU useage and a memory leak."  Paulson looked at the CIO.  "He's been handling that correctly, though I don't know if he's been updating patches and security updates regularly. I think Robertson wanted to get with him as well."

Paulson, the CIO and the IT Manager fixed their coffee in the printer bay, and began to meander back to sit at the small table in the area.  Paulson began to boil inside as he wanted to do something about the situation. 

The IT Manager spoke.  "I didn't see anything in the log files for a sixteen-oh-five error...  But, it could have been a memory leak, or because the mother board on the server is a bit old it might have had a network card slipping out of it's slot." as he put his coffee to his lips to take a sip.

"Then, what have you been doing with these fixes you've been reporting in the weekly meeting about?"  The CIO asked the IT Manager point blank.

Paulson in a split second of brilliance decided to pull the trigger on the little over-dressed schoolboy.  He looked at the CIO at the exact moment as the IT Manager had his coffee up to his lips.

"You wouldn't have seen any such error in the log files, because there isn't any such error code."  Paulson directed at the CIO, who now realized his boy, the IT Manager, didn't know what he was talking about.

The IT Manger at this exact moment choked on his hot coffee, and spilled it all over the front of his crisply-starched pima cotton shirt.  The coffee stained the shirt badly, and of course, Paulson had that short yet internal smile of satisfaction.  The CIO, puzzled, looked at the IT Manager who was now embarrased, stained, and now glowing hot from the coffee.  Paulson watched with an internal glee...

"Get Robertson on the phone," The CIO said to Paulson, "I think we need to have a talk about that contract today..."


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