Wednesday 11 November 2020

Humbled by one's failings

Quick to the bad draw

You cannot be in the 33rd year of a career without having stories to tell, not so much of your genius but more of your stupidity. I guess my first booboo was when I was a computer technician with an outfit called IT Systems. We had a few computer maintenance contracts with some big firms like International Merchant Bank, Arthur Andersen when it still existed and Elf Nigeria, the oil company amongst others.

It was early in 1989, I was out on a maintenance run at Elf Nigeria when I used a disk that was supposed to do a disk drive head clean, the disk was given to me by a friend working in a desktop publishing outfit and we lived together, it just looked like an efficient tool for the job besides getting the dust off the innards of the computer case.

These foolish things we do

That disk introduced the Ping-Pong virus into Elf Nigeria and with it, all their computers became unusable with a green dot bouncing off the sides of the computer screen, it was not long before the fingers were pointed in my direction and a crack team spent the weekend reformatting and restoring data, I did not get sacked.

That was when we acquired our first antivirus solution and became the go-to company to fix such issues around Lagos. However, I guess there was no retribution for my foolishness at first we didn’t know anything about computer viruses, it was an honest mistake and like everyone else, someone had done something foolish before and recognised that this kind of thing happens.

Humbled by knowing me

Maybe also, they just liked me and that helps, having an affable, friendly, and approachable personality with a good working relationship with your colleagues means you do not get thrown under the bus at the first sign of problems. I can attest to many other mistakes I have made at work that would make me cringe at the thought of what was wrought by my hands.

So, I could understand when a colleague thought I had shopped him for having done something in error, tried to amend it, but the damage had been done. The evidence was there if you knew how to find it, and I did. As it was a puzzle put to the team the source of the problem had to be revealed to the team. I forewarned him of the situation before making the public revelation.

In the interest of kindred spirits, I spoke of some of the things I would rather forget that I did at work. I have known understanding, consideration, and dare I say, mercy from managers who could just terminate my contract there and then. Recognising that keeps us humble and helps us remember we are only human, striving for perfection and sometimes falling short. We live to learn and hopefully do better next time.

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