Shortly after I went to work at TAC, my first team, which was dedicated to enterprise customers, was dissolved, and I ended up on the Routing Protocols team.  The RP team supported both enterprise and service provider customers, and I had zero experience on the SP side.  There was quite a learning curve ahead.

One day my phone rang with a P1.  I dreaded P1’s.  When a P1 came in, you were thrown head-first into a potentially huge outage with no knowledge of the case in advance.  Often times a case that had been worked by another engineer got raised to P1 and you had to deal with someone else’s mess.

On this particular day, the case was a line card problem on a 12000-series, or GSR.  GSR was a service provider box and I knew nothing about it.  I didn’t even think it ran IOS (it does).  I had no idea where to start.  You would think they would have given me training on every product we covered, but at HTTS, at least when I worked there, the general approach was to throw you to the wolves.

So, I politely put the customer on hold and started running around the second floor of building K where HTTS is located, shouting:  “Does anyone know GSR?  Anybody around to help me?!”  Finally I stumbled across my teammate Abe in the break room stirring up a cup of coffee.  Abe had been a product manager for the GSR before he came to TAC.  “Abe, you gotta help me!  I took a P1 on a GSR and I’ve never touched one!”

“Way to go, grab the bull by the horns!” was Abe’s response.  We rushed back to my cube and Abe walked me through GSR line card troubleshooting.  Abe and I have been great friends ever since that day.

Remember, when you call for support and the person on the other end of the phone sounds like they might not know what they are doing, they probably don’t.  And if they put you on hold they may be running around screaming for help.  It happened a lot in TAC.