As a former SysAdmin, I always have a backup plan.

When you work for a couple of years maintaining mission-critical databases for a billion-dollar company as I have, pretty soon it starts to affect how you live your life. You start to identify points of failure and solutions to potential problems in advance. Well, look at me for instance. I always have a backup plan.

A good example was just this past weekend. My buddies had invited me to a LAN party at Karl's place, where we'd play Jedi Knight 2 and drink mudslides until the wee hours. It seemed like a good idea, but when you've worked in IT for as long as I have, you always keep your options open.

There I was, partying it up, in the middle of a mean light saber duel with Stewie, when my cell phone went off. Sure enough it was Steph, the cutie we met at Shakys Bar the other night. She had an extra ticket to the Blink 182 concert that very evening. Now, an ordinary man in these circumstances would have to either let down his friends or give up on the possibilities of a potential relationship. But me? I always have a backup plan.

In this case, I paged my friend Mark and faked an appendicitis. Mark drives an ambulance and was almost off duty for the night. I rolled around on the porch groaning while all my LAN party friends panicked, then Mark drove up in the ambulance, lights blaring, and carted me and my backpack away on a gurney. Not only didn't I have to pack up my PC stuff, but I was on my way to Steph's house in record time. Date night, baby! It pays to have a backup plan.

In the ambulance with myself and Mark was his partner, Fred. The cool part about riding in an ambulance is that you can hear all the police chatter, but since it was a Friday night we opted to rock out to techno grooves instead. Lemme tell you, chicks dig it when you pick them up for a date in an ambulance.

The four of us were chilling at her place when we saw on TV that traffic all along the freeway was way backed up. We'd never make it to the concert in time, not by driving Steph's car. Somehow we had to convince Mark to take us there in the ambulance before his shift ended. For the unprepared, the evening woulda been shot. But remember: I always have a backup plan for just such an eventuality. I reached into my backpack and grabbed my trusted cell phone, where the local radio stations were all on speed dial. I've spent the last year researching radio playlist and DJ habits and knew exactly when to start dialing so that I was one of the first ten callers as soon as they started to give away tickets. Boom! Now Mark the ambulance driver had concert tickets too, and Steph and I scored backstage passes. We swung by the radio station in the ambulance, got the hook up, then avoided all the traffic by busting down the median of the freeway with the sirens blazing. Cars scurried to get out of our way as we rushed to the show. THAT's the power of planning.

Within half an hour Mark, Steph and I were at the concert while Fred (who unfortunately was still on duty) took the ambulance back to the station. Not before I snagged a few ambulance supplies for my trusty backpack, of course. Lemme tell you, we were rocking hard at the concert. The thing about Blink 182 is, all their songs sound the same, but it's okay 'cuz you can watch your girlfriend bounce up and down.

Then things got hairy.

I saw Karl and my other LAN party friends come in through the back entrance. They must've scored tickets, too! They had abandoned the LAN party to tear it up at the concert. If they saw me there, dancing with my appendix in tact, they'd know I was ditching them. Ordinarily this would've ruined the evening, but years in technology services have taught me time and time again to always prepare for the worst. That's why I always keep a Spider-Man costume in my backpack.

I slipped away into the men's room and into costume unseen. The full face mask concealed my identity, which kept my friends from recognizing me as I whooped it up in the mosh pit.

Then, right after the show, I slipped backstage. At first security was freaked, but when I showed them my pass that I'd won from the radio station, it was okay. "It's cool," the guards said to one another. "Spider-Man's got a pass."

I was all set to chill with the band when I caught site of my date Steph sitting on a grungy couch backstage... and she was making out with the drummer! Well, ordinarily that would wreck everything, but a man in my position is always thinking ahead to the possibility that your date might start making out with the band while you were moshing as Spider-Man after skipping out of a LAN party with a fake appendicitis. This wasn't a problem. In my trusty backpack I had some medical charts with me that I'd swiped from the ambulance. I forged a Doctor's signature on a chart that indicated that the drummer had Herpies, left it on the snack table next to the M&Ms, and slipped out the back door to the parking lot.

Of course, without my ambulance, I had to find a way home. But remember: I always have a backup plan. I simply found Karl's car in the parking lot (he was the only one not drinking mudslides, so I knew he'd be the one driving.) Weeks ago, of course, I had secretly made duplicates of his car keys for just such an emergency. Years of working as a SysAdmin teaches you to plan ahead like that.

Still dressed as Spider-Man to avoid arousing suspicion, I crawled through the maze of parked cars and slipped in behind Karl's vehicle. I opened the trunk and slid inside, drawing my faithful backpack in behind me. Did you know that some chewed up bubble gum can be used to prevent a car trunk from catching? I do. How? PLANNING!

Before long I was on my way back to the neighborhood inside the trunk of Karl's car without any of my friends suspecting. Everything was going along smoothly. But, if there's one thing I learned from information services, it's that you can never allow yourself to get too comfortable! Not even in the trunk of your friend's car! Because, the next thing I knew, I heard a tremendous squeal of tires followed by a jaw-gnashing thump.

Karl had hit a deer.

I heard Stewie scream out in pain. He hollered out that his leg had been smashed against the glove compartment and he thought it was broken. Here's what separates the SysAdmins from the server jockeys, my friends. You see, you never want to fake a major organ failure to hijack an ambulance to a concert where you falsify medical documents and sneak into the trunk of your friend's car in a Spider-Man costume unless you're PREPARED for the eventuality that someone might get hurt if the car slams into a deer. That's why I made sure to grab some first-aid stuff from the ambulance before leaving.

There in the wee hours of Friday, a light drizzle began to fall on the cool asphalt next to a steaming deer carcass lit by the flickering headlamps of the damaged vehicle. My friends laid Stewie on the road, the poor figure howling in pain and cradling his broken leg. Then, in the misty night, the trunk of Karl's car slowly rose toward the heavens with an audible creak. Jaws hung open as a dark figure emerged from the back of the car with a pile of splints and bandages.

Karl extended a finger, lips quivering. "Spider-Man just came out of the trunk of my car," he whispered, filled with awe.

"Wow," breathed Stewie, still laid out on the asphalt and for the moment forgetting the pain of his leg. "When you really need a hero ... there they are."

I treated Stewie's leg with splints and bandages and then disappeared silently into the forest as the sound of an ambulance grew closer. I already knew who would be driving the ambulance. Furthermore, I'd already worked it out with Fred beforehand that if he ever picked up a patient who had been given first aid by a man in a Spider-Man costume, he'd know that my date had gone poorly and that he'd need to send someone over to meet me at Shakys Bar 'cuz I'd need a ride home.

Because, you see... I always have a backup plan.

[Daily Victim idea courtesy of GameSpy reader Mark Walling... former SysAdmin.]

Victim Pic Small

Of course, I also had the nitrus in the backpack. Thank God I didn't have to go with THAT backup plan, but I was prepared.

Score: 9.18; Total Votes: 5682 as of 2009-12-09.

My PC speaker began emitting noises almost wholly unlike "music."

How do I decide what to buy? The real turning point for me is how quickly a game comes out with a Boba Fett mod.

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