Happy SysAdmin's Day: Celebrate by going home

What do you give someone with the most thankless job in IT? Time to make a break for it.

Happy Sysadmin Day.

OK, I know that grumble. Data-Center-Grunt is the adopted language of SysAdmins – a non-verbal sign language and vocalizations that communincate the speakers' disillusion with the technology they love, fatalism about the ways in which it will eventually let them down and a feeling about both humans and managers that goes beyond disgruntlement to a kind of anti-gruntlement that explodes violently when brought into direct contact with positively charged gruntle particles, which are still theoretical even in quantum mechanics and entirely extinct within the data center.

Often mistaken for the vibration of huge machines or the sound of the gates of hell grinding slowly open, the SysAdmin grumble is the only constant presence in a data center except the Imminent Catastrophic Failure that will inevitably escape from the prison in which the grumble confines it and attack the one piece of equipment for which there is no immediate replacement.

The Imminent Catastrophic Failure watches invisibly from cover for the worst time to emerge, but the SysAdmin Grumble expands to fill the available space in the data center, leaving a microscopically thin coating of threat on the surface of every machine as protection from the miasma of chaos exhaled by manager and as a warning to the equipment that it is being watched too closely to indulge its wish to commit ritual suicide at the worst possible moment in accordance with Murphy's Law – the single religious law followed by all inanimate things.

The grumble has no time for SysAdmin's Day. It understands all about patronization and false bonhomie and is not amused.

The grumble thinks open minds are for people whose brains are still being assembled, skepticism is for those who don't pay enough attention to become properly cynical and the main benefit of a Better Future Through Information Technology is the possibility of a good lunch at a nice restaurant billed to the tab of the salesweasel who sent the flyer marked A Better Future Through Information Technology.

The grumble does not do Hallmark Moments, or group hugs, or events that involve standing up and singing at a co-worker, although if someone else brings in a sheet cake, it will make an effort to be sociable if it can get a corner or edge piece with lots of frosting.

There are too many accounts to fix, disks to mount, physical machines to virtualize, virtual machines to physicalize and humans making annoying requests to ignore because they violate precepts of "Advice to employees on the proper use of the System Administrator's valuable time," which are passed out to all employees regularly whenever a morning goes badly enough that the servers are inaudible over the grumble. No one pays attention.

System Administrators do not do "SysAdmin's Day!" with the exclamation point on it. They do, however, realize the value of conserving resources, setting priorities and following through on opportunities like the chance to call it a day early and slide out of the building gracefully before the Imminent Catastrophic Failure escapes.

So, in case it hasn't yet, the grumble should take SysAdmin's Day for what it is: the opportunity for co-workers to make themselves feel better by praising work they don't understand and applaud the high technical standards of their technical guru. (Professional slogan: "Try not to let it catch fire.")

And while they're all appreciating all that hard work and assistance, while their mouths are full of cake and too busy to ask for that one favor that will mean working late on a Friday again, the grumble will begin to fade in the data center and the coffee room and even the rest room as the SysAdmin sidles casually toward the exit, beating the traffic by leaving before it, for once, rather than after.

SysAdmins know how to make the best use of anything, even things like SysAdmin's day, that are useless as anything but a good excuse.

Have a good weekend.

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