My first job in networking was as an intern while I attended college. Was required to man the help desk every other weekend. The person who trained me on how to fulfill my responsibility of feeding the IBM mainframe the tapes it requested during my shift, was an older gentleman who reminded me of my grandfather. He taught me the languages necessary to satisfy the mainframe’s requests. You know, JCL (Job Control Language), TSO (Time Sharing Option), and the other ways the company kept the computer users happy.
As I settled into my position working at the company, he and I became great friends. Because I was literally hours away from my ill grandfather, he filled in as my surrogate grandpa. Would ask him for advice when I needed it. Pitching pennies in the tape storage area was quite the competition between the employees. He and the man in charge of the tapes were really good at beating the rest of us.
Noticed that he was a hunt-and-peck sort of typist. Gave him a few lessons on the basics of typing, like my mom had taught me when I was in fourth grade. (My handwriting always cost too many points on documents I wrote, so she got tired of me asking her to type my homework for me. We had an old manual type writer. No automatic anything back then! I miss that machine now.) As our company moved slowly into the 19th century, we started getting personal computers to place at remote sites. Slowly the help desk followed suite. As the machines at the desk were replaced with modern PC terminals, put my knowledge of repairing PC’s to work.
Since the older gentleman had been practicing (or was supposed to have been) proper typing, removed the actual caps from the keys so there were no visual indicators of what the key actually was! Took him a few hours longer to generate his daily reports that day. (Filled his boss in on why, since I was the cause!) He manged to successfully type with out any help from his sight! Taught him how to do it the next day, in case he wanted to try it on someone else.
We were the terror of the company’s computer operations. Between him putting fake insects on people’s workstations and him dropping what was affectionately referred to as the “Clanger” on the raised floor of the data center everyone gave us our personal space! He would drop the clanger and then laugh historically as I jumped several feet away! He had to be careful who he did that to, since not everyone had a safe heart to try scaring to death. Had a few close calls with some of the females in the building who freaked out when the clanger was dropped around them!
After several years there, I noticed his walking was not his normal springy step. He started seeing a doctor about the constant back aches he was experiencing. He was sent to have an M.R.I. performed to see what was causing his spinal problems. They found out the hard way, that he was deathly allergic to certain sea foods. He never fully came to from the coma that was caused by the M.R.I.
Got the call from his wife while I was covering the help desk because he was out that day. Had to go down to let his boss know that he was dead. Was NOT a good day!
He was the first person that I really cared for to pass away. Went to his funeral with the rest of my coworkers. The man in charge of the computer tapes was actually the one who had been left his will. The tape man let me know that the guy who passed away knew how much he meant to me. He had left me a copy of his beliefs on life. (Turned out to basically come in a slightly edited form of “How to win friends and influence people”.) Know that because I already had a copy.
As I moved on to my first real networking job up in the Chicago-metro area of Illinois, saw him in passing sometimes. A stranger would remind me of him by appearance or actions. Still miss him, but don’t see him that much anymore. Wish I did!