There was a very serious conflict this morning with a coworker which resulted in an angry email from by boss with an accusation that isn't true. How do I handle this without sounding juvenile?
Here's the story:
My coworker and I are both IT systems administrators for a hospital, and this week is my turn to be the on-call support person. I took a call at 7:40 AM (20 minutes before open of business) about a problem with a system that he is responsible for, and that I know little about. I figured he'd be on his way into work for the day, so I texted him for guidance. He responded that he was going to be in late due to a personal errand, and suggested I try rebooting one of the application servers.
Very long story short, you can't reboot a server in the middle of a medical procedure, and I couldn't reach anyone in that department to see if there were patients. I wound up calling all the way up the hospital supervisor, and she said she would take point on it. So I left it at that. I logged the incident and called it good.
When he finally arrived at work, he had a total come-apart on me. Lots of f-bombs were dropped. I ended the conversation by telling him that it's not my job to do his work for him and that he should call me back when he grows up. Not very professional, I know, but I was livid at that point with the way he talked to me.
Several hours later, I get an email from our director, CC'd to both of us. It's obvious from his tone that my coworker "tattled" on me, and that he took his story at face value. It was one sentence to my coworker about how unprofessional he was being, and a whole paragraph to me about how serious that system is and my lack of urgency in dealing with it.
The thing is, this is absolutely not true! I did everything I could have possibly done to resolve the issue. I spent almost two hours checking server logs and making phone calls with no help as to what I was even looking for. I am absolutely confident about the way I handled the situation (the technical part, not the argument).
My problem is that this whole situation is childish, but his email demands a response. If I don't, I leave it on the table that I messed up, and implicitly accept blame for not fixing that system in a timely manner.
I don't do office politics well, and I don't really care about "winning" a stupid argument. But I DO care about the quality of my work and how its perceived. I'm very proud of my work product.
How do I respond to this without coming off as petty? Bear in mind that my relationship with my boss is tepid, but their relationship is very friendly, and I've had other issues with this coworker before that his email confirms he's heard about, but has never said anything. Point is, he's only ever heard one side of the story and now I have an uphill battle to fight.
The root cause of the problem turned out to be a transaction server running out of disk space. I missed it because I did not know to look there. There is no documentation as to which servers do what or what data gets stored where (his job), and there were no monitors configured to watch that drive to send an alert in advance of the failure (also his job). Again, I am desperately trying to avoid throwing him under the bus (that's being petty), but his dodgy work turned a normal problem into a crisis and he is shirking responsibility by blaming me for the aftermath.