I think most men have that one t-shirt in their dresser that their wife has said, "that t-shirt is falling apart. Why don't you get rid of it?" I think I have three or four, but one of my favorites is an old Embarcadero Technologies shirt that has a picture of a woman dressed in black crying over a casket with someone tapping her on the shoulder. The caption says something to the effect of, "I know this is a bad time, but did he happen to tell you his database admin password?" I always thought it was kind of a funny shirt given how that is always the worst case scenario that we as database administrators can think of. I used to have a manager that would tell us to document our processes and procedure just in case someone got hit by the "chicken truck".
Unfortunately, I experienced this in real life last week. One of my coworkers passed away unexpectedly last weekend. I had just begun to work with him recently and so I really didn't know him that well. He was actually at an Oracle class when he got sick and had to come home. I had been working with him to help him better understand the Oracle database. In fact, I was supposed to be helping him on a new project when he came back to the office. Not surprisingly, there were some tearful eyes and heavy hearts when we all got the news on Monday morning.
Once I got over the initial shock of wondering how someone roughly my same age would go from relatively healthy to passing away, the inevitable question became, "what about supporting the organization during this sad time?" Our organization is split up so the databases that my coworker was supporting, I had never seen before. For the most part, I was able to figure out what was going on and make sure there was enough disk space, backups were running, and most things seemed in order. What we did figure out though is how much documented standards, processes, and procedures would have made the transition easier. One thing I will be discussing with management is consolidation of tasks and a set of standards that can be documented and shared with the team.
The moral of the story is pretty much what most of us already know. Document everything and make sure that the documentation and passwords are in a safe, secure place that is accessible to those that need them.
God speed Kurt... you will be missed.