One of the modules I teach in my Windows Server admin class is about disaster recovery and backups. Those who are new to the IT world need a real sense of what it's like to be scared. They need a reason to make sure everything is backed up in multiple places like onsite and offsite backups, replicated virtual machines, scale out file shares using clustering, volume shadow copies and, you get the idea.
I thought the only way to really make this point was to tell them the scariest moment in my life as a parent, and maybe even as a human. It starts in Hollywood of all places. For my daughter's 16th year on the planet she asked for me to take her to see the Walk of Fame and Grauman's Chinese Theater so she could see the hand prints of the stars. So far, not so scary. Hang in there.
After we had an awesome morning and afternoon checking everything out, my daughter wanted to do one more thing before going back to the hotel and out for dinner. She spied the Max Factor museum diagonally across the street and wanted to go there. Max Factor was Lucille Ball's make up artist and later on he started a line of cosmetics.
We got to the museum and the curator tells us we have about an hour before closing so feel free to walk around. About 45 minutes later, I have seen enough I Love Lucy memorabilia to last a lifetime. I'm ready for dinner. The curator then comes up to us and asks if we want to see something really cool down in the basement. Um... ok.
Apparently, the prison scene from Silence of the Lambs was setup downstairs and he thought we might like to see if it. That perked me up and we went into the giant elevator, big enough for a truck to pull in, and slowly we descended to the cellar.
The lighting was just as scary as the movie. We stepped off and he went back up and told us to have fun. We walked down the hall and saw the first prison cell and looked in. It was pretty cool. At the end of the hall was Hannibal Lecter's cell, and the chair that Jodie Foster sat in while she interviewed him. She even signed the chair afterwards. We flipped it over and there was her signature. Still not scared yet? Yea, just wait.
I somehow coaxed my daughter into Hannibal's cell and started making scary faces at her. She was halfway amused and halfway quite spooked by being there. We were the only souls in the basement at this time. Then...... the lights went out. Being in the basement with no windows meant I couldn't even see my own hand. I was in Hannibal Lecter's cell in the dark. Then, I heard the loudest scream in my life. I knew it was my daughter, and she was only a couple feet away from me in the cell.
I started to panic. I called out to her but she just kept screaming. I thought someone was stabbing her. I started waving my hands wildly all around trying to grab onto her to see if she was ok. I had a thought we were setup by someone in the museum and this would be our end.
Ok, now you know how scary it is to have lost all your data to some hacker encrypting your files or mechanical failure, and you have no backup. The ice cold sweat running down your face. Your ears ringing. Your stomach churning. Your legs weak and eyesight blurring. Your career flashing before your eyes knowing this is it, and you will be fired with cause. Welcome to IT.
But, my story has a different ending. After what seemed an eternity, I was able to grab hold of my daughter and confirm she was fine. Just really, really scared. I used the light from my flip phone (2006 after all), and found the opening to the cell. The next thing I knew I heard the curator call down to us. He forgot we were there, and locked us in after shutting off the lights.
He was halfway down the street when he heard my daughter's scream. We were released into the warm California sunshine a few minutes later, and there... was freedom. It was like finding an untouched backup you forgot about on a USB drive you just copied last night. And once again, all was well with the world. I cannot tell you how good dinner tasted that night as we looked out over the city. I think the smog even parted for us just a little bit.