3 classic tales of help desk hilarity

Misunderstandings, uncommon sense, and saying what we shouldn't all liven up an IT workday

I've been in IT for more than 28 years now and have stuck with it in spite of stressful moments that make you want to plunge into the career change that's been on your mind.

But one of the things that keeps me going is to remember the funny situations that have happened -- moments you wouldn't find in another career. Here are three of my all-time favorites.

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Didn't see that one coming

No matter if you're a newbie or an "experienced" techie, it never hurts to remind ourselves -- often -- that there are those who don't know as much about tech as we do. Step back, slow down, and be patient and courteous. Besides, we wouldn't have a job if all users were tech-savvy.

Way back when, the turbo (turbo!) 286 units came out -- ultracool. Our office acquired some of these machines, along with computer mice for the users. We showed them how to activate the turbo by pushing a button and when to do so, as well as how to work with the mouse.

Of course, not everyone "got" it, and we received a handful of calls from confused users. After a few quick instructions, most of them were back on track.

But one in particular was more confused than most. She called in, quite frustrated, to say that her "turbo wasn't working." She'd tried everything.

I asked her to explain what she was doing to activate the turbo. She replied, "Well, I put the pedal on the floor and stepped on it, and the computer didn't go any faster!"

You can picture it, can't you? She had placed the mouse on the floor as was using it like a gas pedal. It was hard to hold in our laughter at the scene.

Tech troubles go both ways

End-users aren't the only ones who do silly things. As difficult as it can be to admit, we techies make dumb mistakes as well.

I wish I knew the backstory to a tech bulletin that Manufacturer X once sent out to repair shops. It stated that the proper technique to test the voltage on AC adapters for their laptops was to use a multimeter -- and never, ever to stick the end plug to your tongue.

We got a good laugh over that one -- and spent many hours wondering what prompted the memo. Did someone actually do such a thing? If so, how did the manufacturer found out? And did it happen at more than one site, thus forcing the company to issue a bulletin to all its clients? Unfortunately, we never found out, but our wild guesses kept us entertained.

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