I was enjoying Cuban cigars and ice-cold vodka with an old friend of mine, who I’ll call Joe, one afternoon when he received a call from one of his clients, Petulance Corp., begging for a miraculous cure to the sudden and comprehensive demise of their mail server.
Now I know this company and they are cheap. I don’t mean spending their money to get the “biggest bang for their buck” cheap. I mean “just because the whole company depends on this one piece of gear and if it fails the business will stop doesn’t mean we need a backup” cheap.
Joe listened to the panicked voice at the other end of the phone for a couple of minutes and said, “I’ll see what I can do but don’t count on any miracles.”
He asked me, “Do you know anyone who can get me a replacement for a mail server that’s melted down into a small puddle of metal and plastic slag by close of business?”
We both drained our glasses and I said, “Not at four o clock on a Friday afternoon.”
Joe sighed and dialled the number for the CEO of Petulance Corp., he put the call on speaker. After telling the CEO that I was also here he said, “I’m sorry, but, I don’t think we can have your email back up and running until Tuesday at the earliest”.
Now I won’t repeat the invective that was then hurled towards Joe. Let’s just say the CEO wasn’t happy. Then he followed up with, “We just can’t live without mail for that long. It’s the most critical thing we need. Our entire business depends on mail. People are contacting me all the time by mail. You’re responsible for this mess, you need to fix it!”
Calmly, Joe said, “we could do something for you over the weekend by getting one of our servers to act as a mail server for your domain until we get a replacement in for you.”
Any sane and rational person would think to themselves that this was a valid, if not ideal, option. Not the CEO of Petulance. He said, “That doesn’t work for me. Our email contains very sensitive, confidential information that no one but me can see. You need to get me a server now.”
Now I first met Joe when he and I worked together on a job for the Navy. My take on this was that if the Navy trusted him with a clearance and access to stuff that mere mortals weren’t able to see, then surely Petulance Corp. could trust him.
Joe poured himself another drink and settled into his chair and said, slowly, “It’s late on a Friday afternoon. It’s going to be hard for me to get any hardware from anyone at this time of the day.”
The response was priceless. “You tell them that the CEO of Petulance Corporation demands that they provide us with hardware, otherwise we won’t do business with them again.”
Now Joe and I looked at each other, nonplussed and struggling to not laugh.
“You really want me to ring up my suppliers and tell them that if they don’t get you a server today you’ll never do business with them again?”
Poor Joe just sat there and said to him, “I’m sorry, but that’s just not going to happen.”
The silence on the end of the phone was deafening. For any of you who have kids, it was that silent pause you get between saying no to whatever it is your toddler wants and the instant that the tears and screaming starts. Then the screaming started.
Joe and I poured ourselves a drink while we waited for the rant on the other end of the phone to stop. It went longer than either of us expected.
In the end, Joe said quietly, “You need to make a choice. Either you get mail back this weekend by getting it on our server or wait until Tuesday to get your own server.”
Finally, the CEO said he’d wait until Tuesday, but if it wasn’t up by then he’d call in the lawyers. Then Joe asked, “Can you have your backup tapes ready so we can restore all the settings and user accounts?”