Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fun with the PA

I spent Thursday at a free technical "conference". It was hosted by a large intergalactic software company that is based out of Redmond, Washington. Their name starts with an "M" and has "oft" at the end. They make the operating system you are more than likely now using and something called "office". Maybe you've heard of them.

It was only a half day thing on "Virtualization". Virtualization is where software vendors have figured out that they can charge you four to eight times for the same operating system running a single hardware platform becasue you can't figure out how to share.

Its a win-win. Al Gore is happy and they get to keep making sail boat payments.

The one day "event" was held in a large Center City hotel and it drew people from all over the area.

The first speaker was OK but the second and third ones made me do this to the feedback form. (Yes, as a matter of fact I did hand it in that way.)

The best part of the conference was that I ran into old friends that used I used to work with and we spent a large part of the second and third speakers talking about "the old days". They are a bad influence. See above.

The "old days" were four years ago.

Really, we were 40 something year old boys who happen to work in a 30 something story office tower.

The building has a public address system manned by administrative assistants. These admins have rules about what can and can not be announced for all to hear. They are the dfenders of the airwaves.

In order to keep boredom from taking over our 9-5 existence, "the in crowd" would page people.

People that could not possibly be located in the building.

They would page body building stars of the 1970s and 80s.

I am not making this up.

You would hear, over the loud speaker on every floor, "Serge Nubret, Serge Nubret, please dial 4596". Or the same thing with Mike Menzter or Fransico Bautista. We found this endlessly entertaining. It was a way to make your friends on different floors crack a smile during the long day.

The admins never caught on. They might say something like "that's a strange name" when asked to page Dorian Yates, but "they" would always cover it by saying "He's a consultant".

It became a very popular sport until someone outside the little clique wanted in. They decided, on their own, to page a body building from the 1970s except they didn't know very many and were too lazy to to look them up.

The newbie paged "Lou Ferrigno".

The insiders just sort of looked at the newbie in disbelief.

You paged "Lou Ferrigno"? What the hell is wrong with you? Everyone's heard of Lou. We're going to get caught.

As is common with these things, as time went on, a lot of this "in crowd" moved on to greener pastures. It's been my experience that once the crowd catches wind that it's over, everyone finds a new job. At least that's what happened here. Over an 18 month period, just about the entire group of folks that worked together and made funny pages found new jobs and quit.

Now, so many of them quit and they were dispersed on so many different floors in different parts of the building that they needed a way to communicate that someone had left. It had to be clandestine and efficient.

It had to be the Public Address system. However, you couldn't ask the admins: "Could you annouce that Bill Smith has resigned?". The defenders of the PA would laugh at them. They needed a code.

The code that was developed was pure genius. If you resigned, you dialed the admins and asked that Matt PXXXXX be paged to your extension. Matt PXXXXX was the poster child for resigning at this company. He had done it 3 times at this point, always coming back and always resigning at some point.

He no longer worked there and it didn't matter. See above.

If someone "in the know" heard "Matt PXXXXXXX please dial 4596", all would know that the person with extension 4596 had quit. It really was clever and really funny.

There would be a page for Matt Pxxxxx and then cheering among the cubicled.

This is one of those little insider things that nearly got out of hand. Everyone started doing this. People we didn't know. People that we had to look up in phone directories.

Who is 7598? I don't know. Look it up. Ohh it's Bill Jones over in Procurement. I know him, I wonder where he is going?

Soon, as the population of those "in the know" dwindled, this code fell out of fashion and all the PA stunts stopped.

Now, today, some of the disbanded came back to work here and some of the same antics started up again.

If you happen to be in my building and hear a page for "Thip Needhag", just ignore it.

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