By Paul Murphy, author of The Unix Guide to Defenestration

In my shop calling a user a luser is a firing offence. This is something I will not tolerate although, to be honest, sometimes the things they do are so outrageous that no label could be negative enough.

But what do you do when some user manager goes to your boss and demands your head because one of his people demonstrated an extra-ordinary level of technical skill and left you holding the bag?

As a consultant I often recommend that data center management pass out T-shirts with some locally appropriate slogan for these occasions, but as a sysadmin I've been there, done that, and nobody has ever given me a T-shirt. For example, I got an emergency call once whose content consisted of hysteria and the message "production is down" (ever notice that the further you go from the office, the more likely emergencies get - and the less the caller can tell you?). When I got back, it turned out that the entire shipping operation - on day shift, normally one tractor-trailer every 3.5 minutes - had been down for nearly two hours.

The problem was obvious, no communications; so I went over to the warehouse to see what had happened only to find a desk where the comm gear should have been and the rack itself exiled to the hallway.

We'd put the rack in the open corner of the front office for theft and air-conditioning reasons - with warehouse management's full approval of course - but someone had carefully disconnected all the cables and wheeled it out to make desk space for a new hire.

So why did the warehouse manager demand my head? I've no printable idea, but the point of the story is that it will happen to you - and that you can't beat the problem by attacking the loonies causing it.

What you can do is laugh, so I had a large sign made up for the rack that says:

"Virtual Warehouse"
Auf mitt dem potten!

No one's touched it since and, more importantly, every new hire has heard the story.