The Ritual

The office was dimly lit with flickering fluorescent lighting on their last legs as Selben entered the office and sat at his desk one morning. Putting on his headset he looked up to see four mysterious robed figures technicians all stand in unison and walk out the door drawing twisted blades reaching for cigarettes as they left. During the ten minutes his machine took to load, Soda arrived, waving as he passed by to his own cubicle.

Recently all the helpdesk technicians, including all the IT managers, had quit, except for one low level tech who had only been there a month. Selben and Soda were brought in on temporary contracts to help until the company got staffing back up to snuff. The other temporary techs were normally internal software devs and were filling in until new people were hired. Unfortunately, this meant they didn’t know much more than Selben and Soda about company procedures for the helpdesk. Documentation at this facility was completely lackluster. Almost everything had been tribal knowledge, being passed from technician to technician, making it difficult to troubleshoot internal systems.

Immediately upon making himself available for phone calls, Selben’s phone rang and he leaped into action!

Selben: Thank you for calling Company, this is Selben. How can I help you?
User: This is User. Badge reader.
Selben: Okay, let me just get a ticket started.
User: Great thanks!


Selben: Hello?

The caller had hung up. Selben began to fill in the ticket, but before he finished another call came in. He scribbled a note to himself to finish after the call. This user had a complex issue that took right up to his 20-minute call goal but managed to finish it at the last moment. He glanced at his note from the previous call, but his phone rang again before he could touch it. This repeated over the next couple hours, including getting several calls from other users who only stated their name, followed by “Badge reader,” before hanging up.

Getting annoyed by the abrupt calls with no information, he put himself on extended call completion so that he would stop getting calls temporarily and walked over to Soda’s desk. As he approached he noted the other techs had gone on their fourth smoke break of the day, so it was just the two of them.

Selben: Hey Soda.

Soda sighed and put himself on extended call completion.

Soda: What’s up bud?
Selben: Have you been getting weird calls about—

Soda completed the statement for him.

Soda: Badge readers?
Selben: Yes!
Soda: Indeed, it’s very odd. I was trying to find documentation for it, but there’s nothing. Let’s check with the other guys when they’re back.

Feeling satisfied there was at least a plan, Selben headed back to his seat. Before he made it, a random user from the office caught him with a snare and dragged him kicking and screaming from his cubicle and asked him to look at something on their computer. It took nearly 30 minutes. The user had managed to unplug his VGA cable, and then attempted to plug it back in upside down. After some pin unbending due to no extra cables in the supply closet, Selben got it working again and was able to escape with his life and returned to his desk to find chaos unfolding.

Two of the four techs were having a yelling match with a company VP, while the other two and Soda were frantically taking calls. The call queue had blown up—none of the badge readers were functioning. Soda finished his call and somehow got everyone to calm down.

Soda: Okay Tech, what did you do in the past when the badge readers stopped working?

He quickly got heated again.

Tech: I don’t know! I was never involved, I just created the tickets that they called.
Soda: Okay, don’t worry, just think. Walk me through a call, would you transfer it or do something else?
Tech: They would call, give their name, and then hang up. I’d then go and look them up to create a ticket and would ask them to call back if they still needed help. They never would. Eventually I would just close the ticket.
Soda: Wait, wait. Where would you look them up?’
Tech: I opened the badge reader app, logged in and searched for the user to make sure they were there. They always were. Then I’d create a ticket and close the app.
Soda: Show me.

After only a minute of Tech showing him what his process was, Soda stood up beaming and called out to the VP.

Soda: Hey VP, if I can fix this issue permanently, will you buy us all gyros from the corner food truck?
VP: Of course! No one else has been able to fix it since we got the readers years ago!

Soda opened the badge administrator application and logged in. Quickly selecting all badge readers company wide, he went to their shared settings, and turned off…the sleep timer. He had realized searching for the user woke the badge reader up, causing it to work after the user called in.

An hour later, all the techs were happily eating their gyros.

Unfortunately, due to the length of time this issue had gone on, most users were still repeating the ritual of calling in, stating their name, “Badge reader,” and hanging up, before even trying to use it. Soda suggested making a prompt on the tech support phone line for badge readers that would go straight to voice mail and be automatically deleted after a set amount of time, and Selben was asked to implement it. Soda and Selben received more gyros for this as well.