It would be really interesting to learn about any occasions when OTHER people thought you were cool, particularly if you had no idea about it.
I remember thinking some of the trainers were super cool, on the many, many courses I attended during my 38 year civil service career, although some of them were absolute dorks. But the cool ones always seemed to attract attention in the breaks and at lunch time, or during the evenings on residential courses. Some trainees would hang on their every word and would always make a bee line for them out of class. In the 11 years I worked as a trainer, both in and out of the civil service I got a different perspective on this, as I was usually hoping that what I was doing was actually of interest to my trainees and that I didn’t fuck up my delivery, but as I gained experience and confidence there were definitely occasions when I realised I had some fans in my audience...... which was nice. Then again, I had a couple of major fuck ups, usually with material that wasn’t my own but that I HAD to deliver, when it would have been nice if the ground had opened up and swallowed me, and I felt anything BUT cool.
I also thought that IT guys were often cool (this was in the days when the height of office computing was a Commodore Pet running VisiCalc on green screens) as IT was new technology and people were only just beginning to get the idea that computers were things they’d actually be able to use within the foreseeable future, and computer guys were cool, ate pizza and drank coke while they wrote programmes that would change the future. It was a clique that I wanted to be in, and when I first started running computer literacy courses (on BBC B computers with COLOUR SCREENS) I felt cool to be educating the masses on simple things like the difference between ‘hardware’ and ‘software’ that people had heard of, but had absolutely no idea what they actually were.
But I think the pinnacle of coolness in my professional career was after we’d outsourced IT support to an external supplier and I’d had to move out of IT Support into facilities management. I may have told this story before, somewhere in BETEO, but I had a call from my boss to say that our resilience team, who worked on things like liaison with ministers during terrorist incidents and other crises like the fuel strikes and foot and mouth outbreaks, had ‘lost’ about 4 years worth of files from our IT system and that our contractor had been unable to restore them because the backup system hadn’t been working for some time, but they’d kept quiet about it while they tried to fix it. He wanted to ask me if I was aware of this and how it could have happened. All hell had broken lose and questions were being asked at a very high level in the security services, as to why one of the top three service providers on the planet couldn’t manage to backup our files. I told my boss I’d have a chat with our on-site engineer to see if he could shed any light on the situation, even though his only involvement with backups was changing tapes each day and keeping them locked away securely.
What I didn’t tell him was that I had a pretty good idea what had happened to the files, and despite backups having not been taken, I was pretty confident that I knew how to get them back. We knew the name of the folder for the team, so I asked the on site engineer to run a search in the server for that folder, starting in root, and sure enough he found it inside a folder belonging to a different team. All that had happened was that someone on the resilience team, who also had access rights to the other team’s folder, had accidentally moved his mousecwhen he clicked on the resilience team folder and dragged it in to the other team’s folder. All that was needed was to drag it back one level up the tree. This was really embarrasing for our contractor, as no one had thought of looking elsewhere hor the missing files, they’d assumed that they’d been deleted, not moved.
The director of resilience wrote a very nice email to thank me (and that she thought she loved me, so great was her relief) and I also got thanks from our regional director and the director of security at the Home Office, who also wanted a report from the contractor about their fuck up.
So I guess that was super cool, or maybe what I felt was just supreme smugness.