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The lie of equal opportunities, and meritocracy in IT

By @magicvanillacloud

Meeting the rest of the company

It was summer turning into autumn.

The weather was kind of cold, and I was doing my usual bus-commute along with several different people scattered around very different social groups.

There were all sorts of little groups of corporate people, large groups of girls going to the school for girls at the margins of Oxford ( they all wore their blonde hair in braids and looked verymuch alike each-other ), a couple of old and in love Romanian factory workers, all sorts of teenagers and a serious-looking office woman who wore glasses.

In the morning, the lights looked like they were floating over quiet Aylesbury, making the light feel like water pouring into the night.

As I made my way to catch my bus across Buckingham Street, I would sometimes spot the people who were going to take the buss pass me by. I liked it so much that not even the smell of the garbege that was sometimes picked up at those hours could spoil it for me.

Sometimes, I would even put in the effort to toast some pitas with rosemary and condiments, and eat them with avocado on the bus-ride.

Every day, I eventually got into the office, and I still had some time left to pull out my hair straightener and make sure that I looked acceptable before going to my desk.

The atmospere was really quiet.

We did not have enough chairs for everyone to work from the office, so every day, there would be new faces, of all different types of SOC analysts.

These people were the main bread and butter of the company. Leo did not hold them in very high regard. He was one of the most tenured engineers at the company. I will tell you all about him shortly.

Every morning, there was a painful little call when everyone had to say what they were going to do during that day. At the beginning, I really hated these little meetings and they would end up making me feel gutted.

All this, was or maybe was not that dumb.

I had no clue what people were talking about.

Easy tech-support routines, sounded like Chinease to me.

Jakub, with his gentle and patient approach to newbies, made me cry three times after these meetings.

After Jakub’s painful lashes of spite of him getting really angry at me for small reasons, I learned to formulate my sentences really concisely during these meetings, and awful feelings of shame disappeared ( not that they were warranted to begin with ).

The team was relatively small, but very soon I was to make a very powerful, and unexpected friend. Was Leo out to get me from the very beginning? Likely. Either way, even looking back now I don’t think he was a bad guy, even if he thought that.

At the time, my training and experience was more related to Cisco routers and switches, as well as Netapp storage controllers. This job involved a lot of Linux, and of course I did thinker about with Linux a little bit, but I was very far from being an expert. Most of the basic Linux concepts were totally unknown to me, and this job basically 70% Linux. The rest of the job was Cisco ASA Firewalls ( I had no idea how to configure these either ) and VMware ( very little knowledge of this too ).

During my 1t week I had my 1st call with Leo. Leo was one of these super-smart guys who knows everything in a company. Looking back I believe it was a huge pity that all poor Leo did most of the time, was to just run Linux update commands on Ubuntu machines, and fill out RFC forms. All this stuff could have easily been automated, but I think that Leo never did it, because as myself he was looking for a safe and cushy place to do what he liked, and he did really want to approach automation.

I had my 1st call with Leo, and I think it was one of the very rare occasions when he was speaking like a serious person. It lasted a few minutes. He told me that he was from Scotland, and then I asked him if he was a lepercaurn. He said something along the lines, that he may have been a lepercaurn if he was from Ireland, and that he was sure he was going to have a lot of fun with me.

During the next few days, me and Leo had a bunch of calls when he showed me around the company IT infrastructure. This kind of made me feel a bit indequate.

It wasn’t like I wasn’t understanding what I was being shown, but the truth of it was that I just didn’t have any of the knowledge that Leo expected me to have.

These are one of those moments when you need to be really cool, it is one of those destiny moments when the wrong decision can trigger major changes.

During the next night I piled up all the things that I knew about IT and all my achievements.

Leo was still in a serious-man persona kind of place, so I invited him to antother call, and I told him the story of all my skills. This actually did not go all that bad, as I think that him as well as everyone else were confident of the many ironl-like painful hours of studying that I was willing to put into the job.

There was a painful background of a reality to this fruity adventure, was that the company infrastructure was in painful and abundant chaos.

There were broken things almost everywhere, un-updated software, broken hardware parts, unmonitored hosts, un-updated tickets, virtual machines crashing constantly, and just the impossible task of time-management.

The technical bit as well as the social and friendship aspect of the job are about to get a lot more interesting.

Looking back, I remember how tough things were at the beginning and all the troubles that we went trough. I guess this book can also be about correcting managerial failures, especially in technical support environments.

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