The Dark Of Authority

by Tejas Nair

Young people have no respect for authority now...

Young people have no respect for authority nowadays (Photo credit: Alexandre Dulaunoy)

Every institution is administered by authority & that is more of a necessity as we all know. But what happens when you can’t change the Date & Time settings in a PC in a Signals & Systems laboratory? What happens when the dialog says “You don’t have proper privilege to access the settings?” What happens when you realize that a lab assistant needs “extra” authority to change a cable of an inkjet printer from one PC to another in an educational institution? What happens when you learn that the Server administrator is a lazy dork?

No, apocalypse is still elusive, you see. What happens is that the institution degrades. From all aspects.

Last day I logged into my account in the aforementioned lab. It is the type of account every other student has, except for some of the Students’ Council members who try to start a newspaper which is totally unbiased, yet the articles being shortlisted fall in parallel to what we find in TOI. I found the time set in the desktop to be shamelessly incorrect and tried to change it when that dialog appeared. MS Paint, thankfully wasn’t disabled.

So when the PC connected to the printer didn’t have MATLAB software in it, our professor asked us to summon the powerless lab assistant. His use of words empathized us (two of my batch-mates joined me to pause their frustration over the account limitations). “Kya Sir! Sirf do wire hi toh nikalke lagana hai!” to which he replied, “Mere paas authority nahi hai. Wo (server admin) daatega baadme…(sic).” Now what is the difference between us the hapless students of modern educational institutions and the wiser lab assistant who fetches CRO probes for our sake, as he tries to make ends meet?

The server admin turned out to be a contemptible person because he was seated in an air-conditioned room full of gizmos and piles of unwritten application forms that had the power to buy every goddamn electronic thing related to computers & servers. I guessed he suffered from hypertension when he started finding ways out of the problem instead of solving it. He asked us to –

  1. Print the experiment program from another lab.
  2. Fix it ourselves (for which we didn’t have the authority, of course)
  3. Do it next week!
  4. Use another software!
  5. Use a flash drive, perhaps?
  6. Swap the CPUs.
  7. Date his hideous daughter, instead! (I almost agreed when he said he would pay up)
  8. Convince our professor.
  9. Roam around
  10. Skedaddle!

Although some of the above were real, one of us wanted his job. This is authority. People who have it, abuse it and people who don’t, are busy with CRO probes. Damn!

Maybe it has something do with corruption, but that is beyond the scope of this article.

What I conclude from this anecdote is that people with power can do wonders. But they are busy warming swivel chair seats & brainstorming about how Sundays should also be working.

PS: No prize for guessing who wanted that Server Administrator job!

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