Everything went dark and a chill wind went up Simon's back. A deep rumble rattled his brain in his skull. He glanced behind him to see Noel looming over him. "Simon, can you ping the Exchange server?"

When the trained bear that doubles as your IT manager asks that question, it's a bad thing. Simon tried to ping Exchange and failed. He then tried to ping an app server. And a database. And the outside world. All dead.

About a thousand users were about to discover that the only IT asset they could access were their desktop computers. Shortly thereafter, the phone next to them was going to ring. The person at the other end would likely scream. And then it would ring again. The ringing and screaming would continue until the network was back up.

They hustled to the server room, with Noel's bulk clearing a path through the corridor. It was hectic, and he may have trampled an intern. In one corner of the server room, a jump-suited man with a tool-belt bobbed his head to the music in his earphones. The server room was so quiet that the two could actually hear his music from across the room.

"What have you done?" Noel rumbled. The ominous wave of fury failed to penetrate the shield of Lady Gaga songs the electrician had surrounded himself with. Noel closed on him and repeated the question, with more volume and a heavy hand on the shoulder.

Once he had the electrician's attention, he didn't wait for an answer. "I will tell you what you have done," Noel said, "since you obviously do not understand. You are drilling away into a little metal box that is labeled 'Uninterruptible Power Supply', rendering it quite interruptible and cutting power to the room."

"I… I'll fix it…" the electrician managed to croak out.

He set to work. Noel set to work as well by providing a profanity laden commentary on the level of failure the electrician had just wreaked, how many tens of thousands of dollars of equipment the electrician had probably damaged, how many users were useless at the moment.

The electrician worked through the tirade, which says good things about his saving throw versus intimidation, even if his saving throw against stupidity left something to be desired. With a sigh of relief, he flipped the circuit breaker. Green blinking lights and the sounds of whirring disks filled the room.

Then the breaker clunked back into position. The servers rattled back to silence. An expensive sounding clunk came from a hard drive somewhere in the room.

"I'll fix it!" the electrician squeaked. After a frantic adjustment, he flipped the breaker again. The show repeated itself, although the encore added some sparks in the UPS. The third time the electrician reached for the breaker, Noel nearly broke his hand off.

"I think that's enough of that for the day," Noel warned.

"The… the breaker can't handle the load?"

Noel ignored the electrician and turned to Simon. "Do you think I can heave him up to the ceiling?" Simon looked up, and fifteen feet away, he saw the spare pin-and-sleeve-plugs that had been installed to power future expansion.

Since the electrician didn't have a ladder -- and since Noel's throwing arm wasn't up to the task -- Simon clambered on his back. One egregious violation of the health-and-safety policy later, the server room was on a different circuit. A round of cajoling, screaming and cursing brought the servers back online, although a few HDDs were trashed. Noel's blood-pressure receded to something slightly less than the water pressure in the Challenger Deep, and Simon drafted a thoroughly plausible explanation as to why there were shoe prints above head level.

The root-cause for the debacle was traced back to Building Facilities. The server room, normally accessible only to sever admins and the facilities manager, contained an emergency power-off switch. Despite the fact that all of those people were quite clear about the purpose of the switch, and that it was clearly marked, someone with pointy-hair had deemed it an "unacceptable" risk, and decided to do an end-run past change-control to "fix" it. After all, if left unfixed, someone might cut off power to the server room and damage the equipment.

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