Digital Slob

Curt Brandao

Server grief usually
comes in 5 stages

Whether you're a butcher, baker or candlestick maker, chances are a computer server plays a key role in your flow of beef, bread or wax, respectively. In the 21st century, when a network dies we all suffer, Digital Slobs and Respectable People alike. So, here are descriptions to help us identify, and thus better cope with, our Five Stages of Server Grief.

Denial: Someone you barely recognize power walks into your office and proclaims, "Log off computers. The server is dead." He seems borderline deranged and you consider calling security. Then it hits you. Oh, yeah, you know that troll that comes out six or seven times a year and eats office birthday cake with his fingers, even though dozens of plastic forks are clearly displayed? Turns out, that's the systems guy.

"Oh, he's overreacting," you think, "I'll just use this time to catch up on e-mail ... hmm, that seems to be stuck. OK, then I'll download that Flash animation of Saddam and Osama singing 'Endless Love' -- rats, the Internet's frozen, too?" Still in a fog, you go to the bathroom, confident everything will be back to normal when you return.

Anger: Unable to flush all your problems away in the loo, you return to survey the destruction. Your entire morning of data processing is now binary dust in the wind, and since no carbon-based life form can ever say "I'm sorry" while exposed to fluorescent light (it's a scientific fact), your hostility boils. You initiate a silent stream-of-consciousness tirade, ransacking your brain for anyone evil enough to blame -- from your boss to your emotionally distant father; from the ITgeek to the cheerleader who guffawed when you asked her to the junior prom; from the company's CEO to the Clinton Administration (well, you can't rightfully blame President Bush for a server that was installed in 1999).

Bargaining. Exhausted, you seek solace, imagining pixies came in the night and installed flawless backup software to protect your every keystroke. Maybe if that crazed systems guy can retrieve your work, you'll set him up with the shut-in cat lady in your condo. Maybe if you confront your boss, he'll agree to send everyone home for paid vacations until all these glitches are straightened out, once and for all. Maybe it won't matter if you're stuck in the office all night, since "Will & Grace" might be a rerun, anyway.

Depression. Forced to stare at your own murky reflection on an idle computer screen, ugly truths erupt. Face it, if you weren't such a loser and had gotten that promotion last spring, this would be someone else's problem. Maybe it was that ill-timed cold sore that turned off the CEO at your interview. You got that from Linda. She was a huge mistake. Still, why did she leave you to marry that condemned murderer? For that matter, why should the server come back up for you? What did YOU ever do for the server? You don't deserve a server that works. You never deserved a server that worked.

Acceptance. Finally, you understand life must go on. As the years pass, the pain of losing that April Sales Summary Report to the ethernet will lessen, though never completely subside. You look upon a cubicle landscape filled with teary-eyed, lower-lip quivering kindred spirits, and that gives you solace. The loss is now part of you, and, like every tragedy, some good will always come. At least there's birthday cake today, and the systems guy is too busy to give it his standard fondle.

Curt Brandao is the Star-Bulletin's
production editor. Reach him at


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