Sunday, October 15, 2017


In what follows, I have changed a personal name and an agency name and acronym. Otherwise the conversation took place as I give it.

A few minutes before eight this morning, the telephone rang. I got it on the second ring. A woman began speaking:

"Hello, I'm calling from the NOC. Alistair is locked out of the database and can't work."
"I'm sorry, what? (My employer strictly speaking doesn't have a network-operations center (NOC). It has a couple of network administrators with offices a few doors down from mine.)
"Alistair is locked out of the database. You're on the DBA team right?"
"Well, yes, I am a database administrator." (One who could not just then recall any Alistair among the users of those various databases.)
"So you'll take care of this?"
"Well, give me his telephone number, and I'll see what I can do."
"I only have his work number."
"That's OK". I wrote it down.
"Oh, and give me his email address," I said.
"His CBFC email?"
"Wait, Chesapeake Bay Fisheries Commission? I don't work for them."
"Oh, who is this?"
"George ...."
"Oh, I'm sorry, I have a wrong number."

At that point I gave her the number she had reached, she apologized again, and we hung up.

Now, I can imagine mis-dialing many numbers in this town, and getting the wrong person of the right trade: lawyers, lobbyists, and policemen come to mind. But though I do know several database administrators whom I did not meet in the line of work, I don't think that there are so many of us. On the other hand I know of two men who became friends when one mistakenly called the other and asked a question about Filemaker Pro, which the other was able to answer.

The agency I have called CBFC does important work, though I don't know how much requires developers or analysts to be logged in on a Sunday morning. I hope that the other DBA was able to get Alistair's login squared away.


  1. I hope Alistair gave up and went to church instead.

    1. That can be better for the patience, and one hopes the soul, than fussing with computers early on a weekend morning.