Week 65: & Then I Bought An Investment Bank To Its Knees

Friday, 29 March 2019

Reading time 03 minutes 45 seconds 

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca.

In the world of IT if you want to delete files you Zap them.

Zap.com was my favourite computing tool until it wasn’t. By using it I almost nearly brought an entire Investment Bank to its knees and it almost made me redundant, twice. 

My IT career has been varied. I once had a job selling computers and they gave it to me because I was polite. However, I was so bad at this job that I once informed a man, who came into our shop asking if we sold Windows, that the local Glazers were around the corner. Years later I blagged a job supplying computers to a bank and when the bank needed help in fixing the ones I had built I was given a job there. That’s how short of people the IT industry was in the early 90’s.

Today we are used to graphical interfaces and apps and swiping and general dexterity. Back in the day (and it was only 30 years ago) we had to type in commands onto the screen to get a computer to do stuff. It was laborious, very time consuming and you needed to concentrate. Part of my job was to type commands in order to create space on the file server, as we had run out, and at this point so very nearly did the time on my fledgling career. 

I was speaking to a buddy whilst doing the housekeeping task and mentioned how dull it was. He suggested I use a program to do the heavy lifting for me and I remembered I’d previously used something called ZAP.COMwhich could do the trick. However, I had previous form with Zap and had mistakenly wiped a copy of a key piece of software, whilst preparing lots of new PC’s, but I believed lightning would not strike twice.

Well it does, and weirdly in the same place.

I typed in Zap.com and the area I was clearing up was gone. To put this into context imagine if you shouted the word “Hoover” and your vacuum cleaner magically took care of all your carpets instantly. Come to think of it I bet Alexa has an app for that.

Then I heard it.

A gasp from a colleague. Then the No, no, no, noooooo!!! from another. One mentioned that their files had disappeared and when someone else said the same thing the realisation of my mistake hit. I searched for our data. It was gone. It was gone because of me. I’d deleted an entire Banks IT data.

OK breathe. OK forget breathing go vomit then assess the situation. 

Pandemonium started to ensue and I did the only thing I could so I emailed my IT colleagues explaining what I had done and that I was working on a solution. I had no idea how to fix it, but I was taught to clean up my mess although my Dad hadn’t warned me I’d be this messy. Backups. We were one of the world’s biggest banks of course there would be backups. My colleague arrived and taught me what useful in a crisis meant as he worked with me all day to help restore the data. 

Some people passed by my desk and patted me on the back. One colleague passed me a leaving card. I took a lot of stick but mainly it was people’s kindness and understanding that shocked me as, 3 decades before Rag n Bone man made a song about it, I heard the phrase ‘you’re only human’ on more than one occasion. At the end of the worst day of my career I walked into the global head of IT’s office and explained our situation. We could only get 79% of our data back. The other 21% was gone forever. Zap.com was much better at its job than me.

I stood there awaiting the hammer to fall and before he could talk I said I would pack up my possessions and leave.

He put his hand up and spoke. He explained that my actions were admirable as I had owned the mistake from the beginning and worked hard on fixing it and brought in the right people to help me. He congratulated me for that. I was dumbfounded and explained about the missing files and we’d never recover them. He said it was a lesson to us all and that we’ve shown our weak spots and we could work hard on rectifying them, so they wouldn’t happen again. 

It reminded me of the scene in Trading Places where Eddie Murphy breaks a vase, learns that it was worth $35,000 but was insured for more, and says “You want me to break something else?” 

Picture: One for the Seinfeld fans