3 classic tales of help desk hilarity

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

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Telling it like it is

Sometimes we slip up and say something we shouldn't. When I've shared the following story, other techs have replied in camaraderie, "I always wanted to say that out loud!" Well, I did-- and lived to tell the tale.

I was dispatched to a contract customer in a large legal firm who was having a problem with the floppy disk drive not reading. This unit was under warranty.

The employee's bosses were in the room when I arrived, agitated about the drive not working. It took me only about 10 seconds to figure out what had happened. The user had put the 3.5-inch diskette in their pocket -- forgetting that in that same shirt pocket was a wallet-size photo of their kid. When they pulled out the diskette, the picture got stuck in the shutter and inserted into the drive. Once the FDD opened the shutter, the picture fell out, blocking the bottom read/write head and preventing it from working.

I showed this to everyone on the room and made sure the drive worked fine when the picture was removed. Then I filled out a work ticket for them to sign.

They spent the next 20 minutes passing the ticket around, refusing to take responsibility for the service call, saying, "I'm not signing this ... you sign it!" It reminded me of the Mikey/Life cereal commercials where three brothers pushed a bowl of cereal around, saying, "You try it."

After about 20 minutes, I'd had enough. I told them, "The warranty covers defective equipment -- not defective users." They looked at me in surprise. But one of them signed the ticket.

By the time I got back to the office, they'd called my boss and complained. I was wet behind the ears at the time, so my boss must have taken pity on me -- or been fed up by the customer. He explained that wasn't the best response but stood by me. Then he said I didn't even have to get them to sign in this case: We could have just sent them a bill for the service call.

"Great, thanks for telling me now!" I thought. No, I didn't blurt that one out loud.

There's a lot of humor in this job. Some days, that's what keeps me going.

Send your own IT tale of managing IT, personal bloopers, supporting users, or dealing with bureaucratic nonsense to offtherecord@infoworld.com. If we publish it, we'll send you a $50 American Express gift cheque.

This story, "3 classic tales of help desk hilarity," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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