I don’t often return to subjects that I have written about before but today (1st November 2017) I was reminded of something that happened way back in 2012 when I had just started my all-time favourite I.T. contract – with Associated British Foods.
I was on my (and indeed the whole embryonic team’s) first assignment at the unwholesome sounding Speedibake Bakery in Wakefield and Bradford which I wrote about here: https://littlealfie.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/ in my “On the road again” series.
I cannot recall with total certainly which of the two factories the incident I was reminded of took place at but I think it was Bradford. Before I tell you about it, though, I see on re-reading the article the above link leads to, that I have also never mentioned an amusing occurrence that definitely occurred at the Wakefield site.
Our workroom at the Wakefield site was a large conference room normally used by, and sharing a kitchen with, the New Products Department and it was while putting Windows 7 onto one of that department’s computers that I had a bright idea – Savoury Doughnuts!
I developed the thought a bit and mentioned it to the Departmental Manager while we were both making coffee in the shared kitchen. I postulated, instead of the usual jam or custard fillings, gravy, Bovril, Marmite or Peanut Butter and he seemed to be good-naturedly humouring me.
When, however, I made the suggestion that instead of powdered sugar, they should be coated in salt the good-natured smile vanished instantly and was replaced by white-lipped anger!
“Don’t ever say THAT!” he almost hissed at me in a furious voice.
Then, realising the shock that this response to a perfectly innocent (if somewhat odd) suggestion had caused on my own face, he forced himself back under control.
“I’m sorry”, he relented, “it’s just that…” he shuddered, “we did that by accident once – it lost a whole day’s doughnut production and a number of quality control inspectors got sacked for not noticing!”
I never ever mentioned Savoury Doughnuts at that site again. I still think it’s a good idea though!
Anyway, as I explained in the previous article we were under some time pressure at Speedibake on account of our Windows 7 migration activities blowing up the main server at Wakefield and having to move to Bradford (who were not ready for us) while they got it fixed. Once we did start rebuilding Bradford PCs we were several days behind and having to work longer hours to catch up. As by far the oldest on the team I was feeling really drained by the end of each day and asked some of my new friends staying at the same Bed & Breakfast establishment if they had any ideas as to how I could get over this.
They advised me that they coped by consuming energy drinks and recommended the one called “Relentless” a cheaper version (but with similar ingredients) of the stronger and more well Known “Red Bull”. I duly bought a couple of cans from the late-opening supermarket opposite the B&B for consumption the next day.
I worked perfectly normally the next morning, rebuilding or replacing 3 of my allotted 6 computers for the day then restoring all the user data to them exactly on schedule but after lunch felt that I was losing my edge a little. I remembered the Relentless and duly drank down a full half litre can!
Unfortunately, my friends Stuart and Paul had failed to mention to me that they took the occasional sip of the stuff, making one of those cans last for several hours and failed to consider what the effects of a whole can might be on a metabolism that hadn’t experienced it before!
My head was buzzing and my heart was racing like never before! Far from just keeping me going, whatever it was that stuff was made from turned me into a one man Windows 7 migrating machine! I located a bank of 6 desks in a block; 3 of which were earmarked for me that afternoon and the other 3 also to me the next morning. It turned out that the owners of those 6 computers were either on holiday or at a conference for 2 days so I started all 6 at once!
Four needed rebuilds of the existing machine and the other two had to have the data extracted and then replaced in brand new machines – a much quicker job as we already had a stock of newly built machines with all the correct software on. The rebuild process (if you’re interested) involved, essentially, cocooning the user data, sliding the new operating system in over the old one, then “exploding” the compressed old data back to its proper place in the new set up. That took about 2 to 3 hours per machine but in my hyperactive state I was doing four of them concurrently after the fashion of a circus plate-spinner!
As we finished our tasks we would return to the workroom to tick them off on our big white board and I, as normal, wasn’t first back. When I did return (no-one left until we had all finished) there was no surprise when I filled in my afternoon allocation but shock when I then moved to the next day’s list and ticked off half of my ones on there!
I don’t know if it was concern at what drinking more “Relentless” would do to my health, or if the other guys thought I was making them look bad but I was asked not to have any more – at least not a whole can! I was happy to comply – it gave me a terrible headache later and I had a hard time getting to sleep that night. From then on I just did what was assigned to me but that high speed afternoon helped us to catch up and finish the site on schedule.
At the start of this piece I said “I was reminded…..” of the events above and you may have been wondering what it was that brought it all back.
Well, I was on the bus into Peterborough for my Library volunteer work last week when a couple got on in Orton Goldhay (not the best part of town). There was an abundance of tattoos and muscles (and HE looked quite hard too!) and they sat down very pointedly in the seats marked for use by elderly or disabled passengers. The woman seemed to be anticipating some murmur of complaint about this because she anticipated it by announcing to all and sundry that she has a heart condition and was on her way to hospital for an operation on a faulty valve!
There was no response and having satisfied herself that she had settled the issue she reached into her bag, pulled out a large can of Red Bull and proceeded to drink the whole thing straight down.
This of course is what got me thinking about my own experience with such energy drinks and I watched with interest to see if a faulty heart would behave any more spectacularly than my healthy one had. She may have exploded later but not until after I had left the bus!
And that my children is what journalism is about – you take a short and uninteresting anecdote and turn it into a 1230 word story!