Monday, January 29, 2007
THE DEAD FILE
For you new CNN recruits, and those new to Peon Confidential, here's a bit of ancient lore:
Back in the TV Stone Age, when Lou Waters and Natalie Allen ruled the airwaves, CNN had a computer system called BASYS. One feature of this system was a curious message wasteland called The Dead File.
Well, some might have called it a wasteland. I called it a goldmine.
A goldmine that I could not access.
When you deleted a file in BASYS that had not been locked, a copy of it went to this creepy Dead File cyber pit. I do not know who designed the system in this Peeping Tom-friendly manner. I doubt I'd want them living next to me.
But much like retreats to the Bahamas on the company's dime, only the more seasoned or upper-level people had access to this file. Peons like me could only sit in wide-eyed wonder, hearing the tales of all it offered.
The tales were plentiful:
Numerous affairs were discovered this way, numerous grudges against co-workers were aired, numerous insidious plans were hatched. People routinely forgot that any unlocked, deleted drafts of juicy peccadilloes were available to anyone with Dead File access.
So it is with great joy that I ressurrect a Dead File story, written as a response to a post several months ago. This story deserves to be posted boldly in the blog. No longer will it be meekly confined to the comments space. Here's the "Do Not Read This" story for all to enjoy:
"I had been toying around with the idea of leaving CNN a few months before I actually cut the strings, and I thought I would amuse myself and create a fake "Goodbye" Read-Me post. Mind you, I had not actually turned in my resignation, and I never actually had plans to post this thread. This was merely for my amusement..filling in the wide expanse of downtime that came with the territory of working in the most boring department known to TV..Newsbeam. My thread basically mocked many of the weekly "Goodbye" posts that cluttered up READ-ME. First of all, I titled it "Do Not Read This", because every other goodbye post was titled something like LOOK AT THIS! READ ABOUT ME! SAY GOODBYE TO ME! I wanted to convey total disdain and apathy (then why do a post at all? Hindsight...) Second of all, I went into great detail about when I was going, where I was going, and what I was going to do (even though most of my plans were not yet solidified.) Honestly, most of the post was bogus, except for the fact that I knew I was going to leave CNN at some point. In the post, I thanked Ted Turner and Lou Waters for being close confidants. I said "G-Star-4-15-upper" was my most beloved satellite. I talked incessantly about the joy I had working in the newsroom. I added a little bit to the post each day, and read and re-read my creation often...
One day, I got bored with my creation and simply deleted it (or "killed" it, in READ-ME speak.) I did forget one imperitive rule of READ-ME. If you kill something, LOCK it first. If you don't, anyone with access to the Dead file can read it. Oh, did I mention that the only people with access to the Dead file were executives, managers and supervisors? Hmmm..can you see where this is going?
A few days passed by, and I received a phone call from my supervisor...Frank asked me, point blank, if I was leaving CNN. I believe I stuttered, mumbled and gasped all at once...He cut off my rambling by saying "I was looking through the Dead file and I saw a post titled 'Do Not Read This' with your name as the author. So, of course, I read it." Now, what does one do here? Should I be embarrassed that my boss busted me with my ridiculous fake goodbye post, or should I feel like my privacy was violated? Should I ask him why the hell he has time to sift through the hundreds of thousands of deleted files on the CNN database? I believe time stood still for a moment or two, so I could gather up some sort of explanation for what I had written. I said the thread itself was a joke, however, I had planned on leaving CNN soon. He asked when, and I just said "the first week in August." And it was done. I submitted my resignation, without even knowing I was going to do it that day. No big build up, no nervous butterflies, no wind in my sails..just "Oh, yeah, I am leaving."
Frank was totally calm, and I was depressed. After four and a half years, I had imagined my resignation would be exciting. I would get all of them back for all the pain I suffered through the years, by quitting and forcing them to go on without me. Instead, I got a lesson in locking files and a handshake from a Frank.
Nothing exciting about that."