Packet Rat

Packet Rat
R. Fink





Politics reduces productivity; the Rat is certain of it.


“Just look at Congress,” he sighs. So the whiskered one purges
politics—at least national and regional politics—from the workplace. Or at least
he tries.


As a former nautical creature, he has applied several rules of conduct in his office
that he brought with him from his days in the wardroom. Chief among these is that it is
inappropriate to talk about politics, sex or money over the lunch table. The furry
one’s acolytes know well not to transgress this commandment—lest they be
keelhauled.


Needless to say, it’s been really quiet in the lunchroom lately. The whole
impeachment crisis has cleft the office right down the middle, and all anyone can do to
prevent the exchange of discouraging words is to stew in one’s own juices.


The Rat doesn’t take positions in affairs of state; he just makes fun of them.
After the impeachment vote in the House, the cyberrodent planned an event to reunite his
department and heal old wounds. To do so meant bending his rules a bit. But hey, the Rat
is the world’s biggest rule-bender anyway.


The trick, of course, was to manage to do so within the bounds of decency, common sense
and federal statutes. If he couldn’t avoid offending everyone, he would simply have
to offend everyone equally.


So on Dec. 31, as everyone worked silently on their own bits for the latest year 2000
patch, the Rat dressed as Baby New Year and summoned everyone to the lunchroom. With the
masses gathered, the whiskered one began a dramatic reading of the Starr Report.


As tears rolled from their eyes, those gathered clutched their sides in hysterical
laughter. One by one they read a part, gamely taking on the tone of PBS narrators caught
in an episode of “Masterpiece Theatre” written by Rod Serling.


Then the whiskered one pulled out an electronic keyboard, on which he had sampled the
word “is” from the president’s grand jury testimony, with Ken Starr’s
whining speech before the House Judiciary committee slaved to a programmed rhythm track.


Their spirits lifted and divisiveness healed, the Rat sent the staff off to spread the
gospel of mutual ridicule throughout the agency. By the end of the day, the whole
campus’ spirit of bonhomie was higher than ever.


The Rat made good use of the goodwill. While his co-workers mended fences, he brought
the network down for some overdue switch upgrades, migrated five servers to Linux, ran a
full backup on some database servers and finished the word jumble in the Washington
Post’s Style section over a steaming cup of latte and a plate of leftover Christmas
cookies.


Then the Rat logged off and headed for home to ring in the new year.  


The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad
packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@gcn.com.

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