THE STAIN OF
J. Lawrence Ingram
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.
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.
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..."
as we can..." Paulson interjected to interrupt the IT Manager on his own
behalf. "Can you get onto another machine for me and see..."
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.
is the MTU of your VPN?" Paulson asked.
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.
wouldn't mind handing me that thumb drive in the top of my bag would
you...?" Paulson asked the IT Manager.
The IT Manager replied in a way of saying he didn't
fetch things for technicians - especially Paulson since Paulson didn't even
it in, and wait for the computer to see it." Paulson ordered.
"Once we can open it up, I have something for this issue."
didn't know we had an
issue." The IT Manager-turned-snotty kid shot back.
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.
Manager huffed a serpent-like hiss of disgust at Paulson. "Because
we didn't update our maintenance contract..."
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."
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.
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
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.
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
"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.
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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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.
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
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...
Robertson on the phone," The CIO said to Paulson, "I think we need to
have a talk about that contract today..."