Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Tracy? Oh, I’ll tell you about Tracy. She can’t go a day without getting six or seven e-cards from her boyfriend. I don’t know what he did, but someone should tell him that it might say more if he’d spring for a stamp once in a while. Doesn’t stop her from opening them, though. And then, great, those cheap e-card sites just attract more and more and more spam. More work for me, basically.

You’re actually better than most users. At least I’ve never had to mumble you a warning about porn being against company policy even on weekends. Only to get ignored, for all the good it did. Yeah, keep your eyes open. See who makes a trip down to HR in the next day or two. You’ll know what I mean.

I’m just glad the holidays are over, you know? How many years have some of those desktop Christmas light programs been going around? Doesn’t everybody have them by now? Or the dancing reindeer. The elf bowling. Snow on the desktop. Build your own snowman. Digital snowglobe. And then it doesn’t matter how many damn virus warnings I send out, people are clicking on every idiotic attachment they get.

I could send out an attachment entitled Dangerous Destructive Computer Virus.EXE, but as long as I put in a header that said “Check out Disco Dancing Santa!” it’d spread over half the globe in fifteen minutes. People just love Santa. They don’t care what happens to their computers.

Honestly, I don’t have to be even as nice as I am about all this. This isn’t what I was hired to do, policing people’s e-mails all the time. Network security? I’m like a hall monitor watching people pass notes in class all day. How does this company even stay afloat? When you look at the kind of junk that Leon is passing along to all his college buddies, it makes you wonder about just how much he deserves that salary of his.

No, he didn’t tell me. That’s against company policy, anyway. But if I happen to see mention of it just because I have to approve the gigabyte of vacation photos from when he went to Mardi Gras this year, that’s not my fault.

Anyway, I probably shouldn’t say this, but I’ve met his wife, and that wasn’t the woman in those pictures. But that’s just between us, of course. Unless he wants to take it up with someone else. I can play it that way too.

I’ll tell you what’s really getting on my nerves, though: how paranoid everyone is about their e-mail. Like we’re here just to spy on them. Do you think I have time for that? Just think about how many messages you send on an average day. Now times that by everyone in the company. No way could I read that much e-mail, even if I wanted to! I’m just trying to stay ahead of the dangers, and the only way to do that is to check out the suspicious stuff. It’s not my fault if people can’t be smart enough to send messages without little movie files about office Olympics or pictures of dogs in Halloween costumes. That’s the stuff I have to review. If people would just write to each other about appropriate work stuff, then we’d have no problem. And if they’d clean up their language a little, I wouldn’t have to see the details of their trip to the doctor or the marginally illegal thing they did to their ex-boyfriend.

I mean, just as an example.

The paranoia, though, that’s just irritating. And everyone’s so nice to my face, of course. But I hear the whispering, and, come on, they have to know that if they’re writing e-mails to each other about it and using words like “spying” and “espionage” and “Spam,” I’m going to see that. Doesn’t that stand to reason?

Well, you’re right. I suppose maybe people don’t always know that, but that’s not an excuse. They should know it. So when they write stuff like that, it makes it all the harder for me to be nice about things. Someone writes an e-mail about how the whole IT department is a bunch of Nazis, and the next thing they do is write me some nicey-nice message about how they were expecting this document, and could I please see if something’s happened to it? Yes, please, ask the Nazis for assistance. The same evil people who are violating your rights are really going to spend half a day scrolling through mail queues to figure out if your drop-out, drug-addicted son sent his resume along for you to review. Or something like that.

I shouldn’t even be telling you this, but as far as I’m concerned, sending something in a company e-mail is about the same as putting it up on the bulletin board in the coffee room. The whole privacy thing is such an illusion. You’d think management would be above that … or at least that they’d know that the guy they barely have time to say hi to in the parking lot is the same guy who gets to see when they’re arguing with their wives about how late they’re having to work all of a sudden. And then at the same time has to approve some message from their college-age girlfriend … the one who likes to reveal whether or not she’s wearing underwear and always wants to know when they can get away to a hotel in the city for a weekend again.

Really, when I think about how much money gets spent on those little extracurriculars, it makes it a lot harder for me to deal with the crap salary they pay me. Because it’s not like they’re using their own credit cards to pay for that stuff. Their wives might see that. But I’ve asked Eva in Accounts Payable, and she’s seen a lot of suspicious weekend stays at the Four Seasons for a certain person whose title starts with “C” and “E.” I’ll let you connect the dots on that one.

Look, I’ve got to get going. There’s this whole new virus or something I have to check on, and if I know the people in this company, they’re probably going to cripple the whole network if I don’t keep on top of it.
All that stuff was in confidence, by the way. I mean, people still have a right to privacy, even if they don’t do anything to help themselves. So seriously, don’t tell anyone.