Dear user: It was your mistake, deal with it

A strange accounting number is traced to a user, who insists it's not her fault and that someone's trying to sabotage her

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Five minutes after I'd returned to my desk, she was back -- this time carrying her Franklin Planner. She opened it and slammed it down in front of me.

"See!" she cried. "On that Tuesday I had a 1 p.m. meeting. It could not have been me! Somebody is trying to sabotage me!"

Some clues

Across the aisle, a fellow employee raised her eyebrows. She seemed to want to say something but remained silent.

When Lucy finally left, the employee told me, "I was in that same meeting. But it was delayed by 15 to 20 minutes until the department manager could arrive." Which, of course, meant that Lucy could have been at her desk when the mysterious event took place. But she was the only one making a big deal out of it.

I explained what I'd found to Lucy's supervisor, who didn't seem concerned. She took an attitude of, "Well, that was freaky. But at least we now know we can trace this type of thing if it happens again." And the incorrect figure was manually reverted to the correct amount.

That should have been the end of the story. But Lucy could not let it go. Later that day, she came to my desk and declared that since somebody was trying to sabotage her, she was simply going to turn her PC (which ran Win95) off every time she left her desk. Knowing that would lead to trouble and more time from our team, I took two minutes to explain how to use the screensaver to lock her PC.

After a couple of weeks, Lucy finally calmed down. She was also pretty consistent about locking her PC when she walked away from her desk -- a good habit on her part.

The funniest thing about the whole situation, though, was that the $4 billion item was not an even number. It looked like a number that might be generated by a notebook (or maybe a Franklin Planner) being set on the number keypad, which might happen when a person returned to her desk after being told a meeting was delayed.

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This story, "Dear user: It was your mistake, deal with it," was originally published at Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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