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Be The “Hey, Do You Have A. . .?” Guy

September 14, 2015

What do we do with these three boxes of computer cables? 

Oh, I’ll take them!

If you need a new network cable, but you don’t want to wait on IT bringing you a new one, who do you ask? 

Ever notice that everyone is assigned a single coat hook for their cubicle, but there’s always that guy who has a spare if you need it? Where does he get it? 

Somepeople call us pack rats. That’s fine. But, we know when you need a new mouse because yours broke and your report is due in two hours, you’ll be standing at our desk with a “Hey, do you have a . . .?” request. 

We aren’t pack rats. A pack rat collects stuff. We don’t simply collect indiscriminately. The stuff we collect has to meet two requirements: 

  1. It’s scarce
  2. People use it

Ah, but where do we get the stuff from? 

The Great Escape is one of my favorite movies. It’s about a group of Allied prisoners who escape from a German POW camp. During the planning, various jobs need to be filled. I’ve always liked James Garner’s character, Hendley the best. He was the “Scounger.” Whenever the needed something, it was his job to figure out how to get it. Axes, bolts of cloth, even a camera. 

Office scroungers aren’t committing blackmail or theft to aquire their supply of spare parts. But, there are some strategies for how to get hard to acquire equipment. 

Bring it 

First, sometimes they just bring it. At my work our operations team uses radios to communicate between floors in our building. Radios are scarce. And they are certainly useful. It’s also hard to keep track of them as people take them and then forget to return them. I have two on my desk. No one ever touches them but me. That’s because they are mine. 

Actually, they are my kids. I “borrowed” them and took them to work. 

Buy it 

Like many people, I have my security badge on a “zip” device that hooks on my belt. I got mine years ago at Microsoft, but they are a spiff that our agents can buy. A couple of other project managers asked if I could get them some. I tried to get one from our operations folks. Apparently the badge holders are very scarce. I tried for weeks. Finally, I went to WalMart and bought a package of 6 for $4. I happily handed them to my coworkers. 

Watch when people leave
The very best time to acquire equipment is when someone leaves. You wander over to say goodbye and leave with a spare stabler, a keyboard and a thrid monitor. 

Get the broken one

And don’t ever EVER throw away a broken piece of equipment, be it a dead monitor, a keyboard or a mouse. It’s much easier to get a broken item replaced than to get a new one. When you show up with that broken mouse, we’ll trade you. But, we are keeping the broken one. 

Over the weekend I went hiking in the Utah mountains again. This time I went to the High Uintas. It was my first time camping in this part of the state. The Uintas are beautiful. 

They are also unique. They are the only mountain range in North America that runs east/west. 

My pack was by far the heaviest of the group of three leaders and seven boy scouts.

 The other leaders didn’t want to carry it. Even lifting it into the truck was a pain. 

Rodney, what’s in there?

Well, a couple of things just in case.

During our camp out, I ended up loaning out

  • Spare water bottles
  • Extra water
  • Extra food
  • Camping oven mitts (otherwise known as leather gloves)

But, the most important “extra” I brought was the most critical of all. 

Hey, do you have any extra toilet paper?

Yes. Yes, I do. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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