I remember it really clearly.
In the mid 1990s, long, long before I went into IT as a career, I was working at a photo studio in Muskegon, Michigan. They specialized in high school class photos, and they did a LOT of ’em. Every morning, the photographers would come into the office to collect printouts for the pictures they were going to shoot that day – student name, address, time of the photos, that kind of thing.
My job duties included:
- Removing the prior night’s backup tape and switching it out for a new one
- Running a few database queries to prep for the day’s sessions
- Printing out the appointments & labels for the photographers
One morning, I ran a query without the WHERE clause. Because that’s what you do.
I don’t remember how the queries worked, and I don’t even remember what the database was. I just remember that it ran on SCO Xenix because I remember the manuals so clearly, and I remember that I didn’t panic at all. I knew nobody else had accessed the database yet – I was one of the first ones in every morning – so all I had to do was restore the database and go through the steps again.
But I also remember that the boss (not manager – boss) had an epic temper. As in, swear-and-throw-things-and-fire-people kind of temper. And like me, he was an early riser, and I knew it was only a matter of time before he showed up and looked for his printouts to see who he was going to photograph that day. I was sure I was gonna get my rear handed to me, and I was resigned to that fact.
So I put last night’s tape in, started the restore, and waited. Sure enough, the boss came in, and before he could say anything, I said:
I screwed up, my fault, and I’m sorry. I messed up the queries I was supposed to run, so I’m restoring last night’s backup, and then I’m going to run the queries again and do the printouts. You can fire me if you want, and I’ll totally understand it if you do, but you should probably wait to fire me until after the restores finish and I do the printouts. Nobody else here knows how to do this, and the photographers need to work today.
Worked like a charm. He nodded, and I could tell he was pissed, but he didn’t yell or throw things. He just gruffly left the computer room and did other stuff.
The photographers and other people started trickling in, looking for their printouts, and I explained that they weren’t ready yet, and explained why. They all got big eyes and asked if the boss knew about this, and they were all sure I was going to get fired.
I didn’t get fired, and everybody was surprised. The boss used me as an example, saying, “No, this is what you’re supposed to do – own up when you do something stupid, fix it yourself, and be ready to deal with consequences.”
Part of me was a little disappointed that I didn’t get fired, though. I wasn’t a big fan of that job. I’ve only been fired once – from a Hardee’s – but that’s a story for another blog post.
What about you? Do you remember the very first time you had to do a database restore to fix something you messed up?