Every year on the last Friday in July, nerdkind recognizes System Administrators’ Appreciation Day. It may sound silly to those of you that have never done the job, but over the years – well to me anyway – I’ve found there’s some legitimate value to it. Even sites like ThinkGeek celebrate it with sales on techie goodness. Years ago I wrote a small angry post on “why your IT department hates you,” and its main focus was something I called Social Swiss Army Knife Theory. We can call it SSAKT for short. That was a long time ago… a time before my writing became the polished gems you know and love today (please, hold your applause and/or laughter). But trust me the sentiment still stands. Most of the time when we seem angry or bitter, there’s a good reason.
System administrators (and I’m going to lump most tech people in here) get the short end of the corporate stick. Period. And most arguments the rest of you have against that statement are invalid. Over time society has forcibly relegated the tech crowd from actual human beings to on demand help centers, as if we have some sort of Google engine that runs inside our heads 24/7. Eventually the techs’ names aren’t associated with much else other than solving computer problems, resetting network accounts, replacing parts, or even just executing the most mundane computer tasks for grown adults that a child could do without too much thought. In short – Swiss Army knives. A multi-tool to do what other folks simply can’t. And soon, even the formality of a “hello” isn’t even uttered before the onslaught of issues and requests begin. All urgent. All with deadlines. And all expected to be resolved like magic.
So why do admins have the right to be more bitter than all the other departments in the world’s corporate structure? Respect. That’s all it boils down to. Someone will always be there to bug us when something’s not working, or freak out about when something’s going to be fixed, or when that impossible project is going to be done on top of the other things that need to be done. But when everything’s working great, and problems don’t even show up on users’ radar because the tech team has it well under control before they even know about it, there’s no one there the hold up the “10’s” on the scorecards for them. And I don’t think that’s fair. There’s no other team that has to stay on site and work the occasional 24 hour shift just so business can run without issue. Or drop everything they’re doing on a relaxing Saturday afternoon just to log in or come in and make everything is OK. Or be on the phone for two hour calls on a vacation thousands of miles away. While you’re comfortable in your bed, your sysadmin could be on the clock.