Cabe B. closed his eyes tightly and sighed. His pager was vibrating and beeping a sad interpretation of O Fortuna. And yet again, their most important server had gotten precipitously hot. If the situation wasn't remedied, XDISP1 would shut down.

It was the early 2000s and Cabe was working for a small startup. And for all the freedom, responsibility, and opportunities to get creative that his position afforded, it was a little frustrating that the budget for the "datacenter" wasn't larger. It was a claustrophobic little room with walls and shelves holding mostly repurposed workstations that were acting as servers and telecom equipment. The A/C was unreliable, and would die several times each month. As such, the equipment was always on the brink of overheating. With a ladle and water to pour over the servers, it could've been converted into a decent little steam room. Cabe wanted to stay on top of all these issues, so he set up some monitoring tools that would page him the moment one of the servers reached a certain temperature.

Cabe casually walked to the server room all the way at the other side of the building. He'd heard his pager play O Fortuna more times than he could count, and what should be a distraction that happens once a month was now happening several times a week.

Learning to Hate the Classics

By the time he got there, the server room was fine. It was surprisingly cool inside, and the A/C wasn't even making the ka-chung sound that it made sometimes. XDISP1's fans were spinning quietly, and the case was cool to the touch. Cabe turned back, walked all the way back to his desk at to the other end of the building and sat down.

Five minutes later, his pager started beeping again. O For-tu-na, ve-lut lu-na, sta-tu va-ri-a-bi-lis, he thought. And after the long walk to the server room, he found it a pleasant, cool oasis, with servers and A/C quietly humming and zero sign of distress. W. T. F.

The same thing happened three more times that day; all from one server. Finally, he couldn't take it anymore. He got Sun on the horn and demanded they come out and fix the system, and set his pager to play Auld Lang Syne instead.

Sun came, replaced the motherboard, and the problem disappeared. That is, until the day after after they left. The server room (and the server), again, were fine by the time Cabe got there.

The problem persisted for weeks; it got to the point that Cabe had temperature sensors installed in the room so he could monitor not just the server's temperature, but the room's temperature from his desk. And for days, looking at the trends, there was never a significant dip. Meanwhile, his pager still was going off all the time. He tired of Auld Lang Syne, Hava Nagila, Fur Elise, and even freaking default beep.

Cabe wanted off the whirlwind tour of crappy pager renditions of the classics. He told his boss that the following day he'd be in the server room and unavailable by phone, and he'd blocked all appointments for that day. He carried his laptop into the server room and set up shop.

The World's Most Expensive Clipboard

It was a little awkward in the cramped room when Joe walked in; neither of them even exchanged a friendly "hello." Joe dropped his notepad, as well as a printout of a trouble ticket that referenced one of the servers in the room. Cabe picked it up and handed it to him. "Ah, thanks, bro," he said, turning to hold it up against XDISP1's intake vent.

The server was at about eye level, and the suction from the intake vent kept Joe's printout in place. Joe typed away, occasionally glancing at the printout that was cheerfully blocking the air flow, while Cabe summoned all of his strength not to slap his own forehead. Or to slap Joe, for that matter. The server began gasping for cool air until it choked, causing Cabe's pager to beep The Ride of the Valkyries in a desperate plea for help.

After asking Joe to please not kill the server, he checked the overheating history against resolved tickets from Joe. Sure enough, the outages were almost all within thirty minutes of a "resolved time" in one of Joe's tickets.

For that and other unrelated screwups, Joe was let go, and a post-it was stuck to the side of XDISP1 reminding people not to use the server as a clipboard. That day, Cabe set the outage notifications to play Pictures at an Exhibition, and thankfully hasn't heard it since.