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The Busman's Holiday

By Tony Davis,

One of the joys of going on holiday is the rare and precious chance it affords the DBA to relax, do something that has nothing to do with IT, and enjoy the company of his or her friends and family. So often, however, it doesn't quite work out that way.

"Hello aunt. Have you phoned to wish me a happy Independence Day?"

"Of course, of course. Now you're in IT aren't you?"

[Guarded]. "I'm a Database Administrator"

"Good, good, because I'm having trouble connecting my iPod to the computer in my bedroom. It keeps giving me some silly error message."

"Well, that's not really my area you know. Database Administrators don't actually deal with that sort of thing."

"Well it must be something very simple. You'd know immediately. Can't you rescue a devoted aunt?"

[Sighing wearily. This was not part of my holiday plans]. "Well, I'll do what I can. What does the error message say?"

"Some incomprehensible gobbledygook. I clicked to make the irritating thing go away but it won't, and now the iPod won't work"

[Strange, I'm sure I didn't have a headache a moment ago]. "Oh."

And so it goes. On vacation, some people can use their profession to their advantage. In a crowded room, upon declaring that you are a psychoanalyst, author, or film producer, an attentive audience will gather around. Someone may even fetch you a drink while you hold court. However, as soon as the phrase "works in IT" circulates a room, all you're likely to be fetched is a stream of ailing laptops and mobile phones.

Your own family uses you as a mobile IT support team when all you want to do is to burn things on a barbeque while nursing a beer or two. One can, of course, operate a token system that you can cash in when it is time to clear a blocked sink, and fix some faulty electrics, but when you're one holiday, a mood of passive acceptance generally creeps in.

People just seem to assume you're always interested in technology, even on the beach. Perhaps it is just one of the hazards of the job!



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