I spent the better part of yesterday and a chunk of this morning helping a customer whose firewall had, well, died. OK, it hadn’t died but it was hanging on by a thread. Months ago it had crashed and when it came back up that same day it was missing 90% of its configuration. All it had left were its IP addresses and one outbound “allow any” rule and these – sparse as they are when summed as a whole firewall config – were enough to let them get back out to the internet. The client, being very kind but completely and utterly non-technical, had no idea of the situation they were in. Rather than have us investigate they simply reported that everything was fine and dandy and asked that we close our ticket. Oops.

Fast-forward to yesterday morning and I find out the firewall isn’t logging to us. I log in to check it out and it’s like opening the door to a room kept empty for a decade, all dust and must and sheets draped over the furniture. I spent hours getting this sincerely very kind person’s firewall rebuilt and everything working again but throughout, every time I would ask him for some needed piece of information about his network, he would have to stumble through another apology and tell me he simply didn’t know how the network was laid out.

In describing it to Deadblob this morning on the MOO I said the following:

You say, “He’s not a dick, he’s not mean, he’s not unhappy, he’s not unaware of his own ignorance. He is dismally aware of his own ignorance and feels genuinely bad about it. He’s so nice it makes it *worse*.”

Deadblob replied with sympathy, referring to the client as “a trapped bear cub.” I went on:

You say, “Exactly.”
You say, “It’s like watching a baby fall into a trash compactor.”
You say, “And it has a smile on its face.”

After a pause:

Deadblob says, “Wow, that is somewhat graphic.”
You say, “I’m sort of proud of that.”
You say, “And sort of not.”

Later I shared that image with my boss’ boss. He paused and looked away, then back at me to say, “Wow. That’s a very graphic image.”

I confess that I am now glowing with some sort of pride.