As you know, I used to be in the finance industry.
When we mess up, it's not as bad as, say, when doctors make mistakes, but it can still be pretty costly.
I’ve had my fair share of mishaps, but the worst one happened when I was very green, and it caused a disaster for the largest bank in Israel.
I was 22, fresh out of university. I was hired by an investment firm affiliated with a large bank. It might sound like a pretty ordinary hire now but it was actually a big deal – back then, they only took experienced men, never an inexperienced woman, and the position was quite prestigious. But Yaacov, my new boss, decided to break the mold.
In addition to my usual duties as an investment manager, I was also given grunt work and odd jobs. I learned a lot, but everyone was much older and I was pretty lonely.
Yaacov, who was a tech aficionado, overrode the IT man's protestations and fitted a powerful computer with an XT data processor, a unique enhancement that computed all the yields and rates for the bank. We called it “The Beast,” and used it to price all the bank’s deposits.
The Beast would work all night. Every morning, yours truly was tasked with downloading all the computations onto a 3.5" floppy disk, print it, photocopy it, and then run around the office with a large pile and disseminate it.
The floppy disk wasn’t an expensive piece of hardware, but the IT man, an elderly, condescending guy, asked me to use the same one every day. He showed me how to insert it into drive A, type Del to erase it. Then, when asked if I was sure, answer Yes, and copy the Yield Report onto it.
One fine morning, three weeks into my new job, I pressed Del and then Y, as always.
Five seconds later, I heard an odd buzz, a low hum, like a rolling faraway drum. Soon the humming turned into a tsunami of shouts and stamping feet. People were freaking out. The computers were wiped clean - they were, to all intents and purposes, dead. The firm had no data to work with.
Turns out that when I typed Del and erased the contents of the drive, I wasn't in Drive A. I was in Z:/public.
I had deleted the entire firm’s drive. All of it. Everything.
The IT guy rushed to my station, on the verge of a heart attack. But there was nothing he could do to retract my firmly typed Yes.
I wasn't the one who got fired. I was too dumb, too new, to be blamed for anything (an excuse that expires pretty quickly, folks). The IT guy was the one who really f*cked up - I should have never had access to the public drive or been able to override it. As proved to be the case, there were no backups. The firm had to go back a couple of weeks to retrieve data. Some of it was lost forever.
The next few days, the bank gave too much return on its deposits, or too little - no one could say for sure.
They hired a new IT man.
He was young, only four years older than me. Smart. Tall. Blue eyes and a beautiful smile.
A year later, we were married.
There’s no moral to the story, except for maybe checking twice before typing Del and then Y.