Being An Unsung Hero

Doing The Right Thing When Nobody’s Watching

This morning around 3:30 am, I woke to a loud mechanical banging sound. I mentally searched my audio database of strange noises, for a possible match to the clangin’ and a’ bangin’. Since this racket occurred in the wee hours of the morning, I was a little woozy at first. However, once the analytical section of my brain kicked in, I decided to time the noise. As I suspected, it repeated every minute. I felt that “lead ball in the gut” feeling I used to get when I worked the afternoon shift in a computer room. That all-too-familiar, “Sounds like it’s going to need repair, and it won’t be fixed for hours.” feeling. Once upon a time, a similar clang in the computer room meant that one of the A/C systems had gone out. It would usually take a few days, and a couple of portable cooling units, before it was finally fixed. However this morning, I determined the ruckus was just a resort elevator door opening and closing, every minute, all night long.

Back in the day, I used to work the afternoon shift by myself. A mechanical failure, that was going to keep me at work until the wee hours of the morning, was the absolute worst. One particular night sticks out in my memory. We used to have these disk drives that were about the size of your average washing machine. They used portable disk packs that held a whopping 288 megabytes of data. Roughly, about one-third the size of an average CD. Needless to say, this was back in the early 90s, and data compression wasn’t anywhere near what it is today. The last thing in the world you ever wanted to see on one of those drives was a Red Fault Light. If you were unlucky enough to be cursed with one of these buggers, you just bought yourself an additional five hours of work, minimum.

One evening, as I was heading home after a rough shift, I noticed a flashing red light out of the corner of my eye. A Fault Light. I felt like a ton of bricks had just landed on me. Did I really see it? If I left now, they could deal with it in the morning. However, I knew that the firm would be offline for hours, while they tried to restore the data. So I ran through a litany of swear words, heaved a heavy sigh, and went back to work. Five and a half hours later, I was done. The employees coming into work that morning had no idea of the ordeal I had just endured. When I finally made it home, I collapsed into my recliner for a few minutes, before heading to bed. At that same moment, I heard a newspaper thump off the front door. Hey, at least I beat the paperboy home. I dragged my weary butt out of the recliner and went to bed. I had about an hour and a half before I had to get my boys ready for school. As my head hit the pillow, I sure felt like an unsung hero.

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