The Greatest Tech Ever

After completing a month-long contract, Soda had landed them another short-term gig at a small startup. The company had run into a major data loss due to massive hardware failure and needed their backed-up data restored to their main system. Unfortunately, their “backup system” was in the form of paper invoices. It was to be Selben and Soda’s job to enter all the data by hand. The company’s inhouse technicians were too overworked to do the data entry themselves.

Soda and Selben shared a slightly cramped office. Gary Delen, the most recent tech stuck doing the data entry, had brought in a pile of boxes filled with folders, and showed them how to process the invoices to re-enter them manually.

“All right, have at it. Glad I’m not in your shoes,” he trailed off at the end as he left the room.

Soda and Selben cracked open one of the boxes and pulled out some folders. After a couple hours of intense, monotonous boredom, Soda started reading aloud from the invoices.

“Oooh, it looks like two pallets of jelly were damaged in transit!”

“Please don’t. Don’t go there.”

“I wonder if it happened on a freeway.”

“Soda, no. Please.”

“It must have caused a…”

Selben groaned, not wanting to hear it.

“Traffic jam!”

Selben sighed.

More boxes showed up after they finished the first set. Realizing just how many invoices had to be entered, Soda and Selben started brainstorming methods to make the process smoother. At the time they had to copy the purchase order, lookup the origination location in the company directory, enter the associated address, the inventory sold or purchased, the billed and sold price, any taxes, and last, any shipping costs. It was Selben who spotted that all purchase orders that started with “TR00” were transfers from one location to another, and all that started with “REC00” were received from an internal transfer. Soda presented the information to the IT lead and was able to show that only entering internal transfer invoices, a received invoice would be automatically created when the physical items were scanned as received. By massive luck, the system the scanner and shipment tracking data was stored on was safe and accessible. Almost half the remaining invoices no longer needed to be entered. There were only 200 invoices that needed to be entered as they weren’t internal transfers.

The assignment was completed during week two, and Soda and Selben were put on two different projects. Soda was trained on their previously failed back-up system with the intention of having him correct any data mismatches during the restoration. He started pointing out ways to simplify the entire process, so he was taken off to the world of programmers to improve their in-house software. Selben was dropped in with the helpdesk.

Seeing how quickly Selben had blasted through the data entry, the IT lead assigned his large backlog of daily tasks to Selben. He had been neglecting some reporting and task tracking since the hardware failure a month ago.

Several hours after that assignment…

“Hey IT lead, did you have another project for me?”

“Let me see what you’ve sent me so far, Selben. I’ve been pretty busy and haven’t looked.”

Selben waited while the IT lead scrolled through his email, his eyebrows rising higher and higher until they almost reached his hairline.

“That looks like you finished all of it?”

“Yeah. It was pretty easy, and I work quickly. I can go over it all again if you want.”

“No, thank you. This is great. I have something else I’ve been meaning to get going that would be perfect for you.”


Selben was to create a report that would show survey summaries on team and individual technicians that the IT lead could use for promotions and reviews. An email box collected internal customer surveys for the technicians on each of the three IT teams, and Selben created a simple template after sorting through them. After a few trials, he was able to automatically generate a table displaying the scores. Selben forwarded the output to the IT lead to see if that was what he was after. It was. However, the IT lead pointed out there must be an error, as one of the helpdesk technicians was getting an unusually high score. Gary, the first tech Selben and Soda were introduced to, was consistently getting a perfect 10/10 while all the other techs hovered around 6/10. Thinking maybe he had messed up the script, Selben dug into his code but found nothing wrong. Selben was unsure how to proceed as the data collection was working correctly, he went to Soda for advice.

“So, Soda, if you look here, he comes up as 10/10. I’m not sure where the issue is at.”

“Did you look at the source data?”

“The source?”

“The actual surveys, where the information comes from.”

“Yeah, it just says the case ID, the tech ID, and the score.”

“What are the scores for this magic man? Are they all a 10?”

Selben pulled up the surveys for Gary and picked one at random.

“This one’s a 10.”

“And another survey?”

“10… 10… 10… They’re all 10’s!”

“Maybe you should look up the case IDs and see what’s going on. Or he could simply be The Greatest Technician of All Time!


After some digging into Gary’s past cases, Selben found that the Greatest Tech Ever’s Gary’s tickets looked just like the rest of the techs, excluding one minor difference. All the completed ticket satisfaction emails that were sent out had been modified. They were all sent to his own email address. Gary had been filling out the surveys and giving himself 10/10 on all tickets. Selben wrote up the information as professionally as he could and sent it to the IT lead, who said he would “Deal with it immediately.”

Later the same day, Selben spotted Gary Delen packing up a box on his desk looking rather pale. Perhaps he wasn’t the greatest technician ever after all. Companywide, the survey data was reset to 0 and the field to modify the reply field was locked. Gary continued working at the location, but had been demoted to a much lower position, and seemed dramatically more skittish around Selben and the IT lead. Selben served out the rest of his time at the company working alongside him on the helpdesk, so that made it a bit awkward.