Gross! Unsanitized tales from tech support

PC troubleshooter? Check. Server skills? Check. Disinfectant? Double check. You'll need them all when working the help desk

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The CEO was a pompous fellow who usually loved the sound of his own voice, but about two hours into the call he had been quiet for an unusual amount of time -- "unusual" being all of a couple of minutes. Then, in the background, we heard a strange noise: the sound of water falling, followed by the unmistakable whoosh of a toilet flush.

A second later, the CEO said, "Sorry guys, I had to step away for a minute. Did I miss anything?"

There was silence on the call for a bit as most of us muted our lines to mask the sounds of laughter and revulsion and to regain our composure. To make matters worse, we never did hear the sound of the CEO washing his hands.

A warning would have been nice

More recently, there was an incident at a different company where an exec came storming into the IT area, threw his BlackBerry on my desk, and demanded a replacement immediately.

"What's wrong with this one?" I asked.

"It just doesn't work."

"Well, have you tried rebooting ..."

"Look, can I just get a new BlackBerry?!" he snapped.

I calmly said, "OK, let me try a couple of things with this unit and then we'll see what we can do about a replacement." I picked it up, popped off the battery cover, and out came a flood of lukewarm water. "Oh, did you drop this in a mud puddle or something?"

"No!" he snapped. Then added, more quietly and with a blushing red face, "It fell in the urinal while I was talking on it!"

I dropped it. With a paper towel, I then picked up the phone and threw it in the garbage, not even bothering to pull the SIM card.

It took all of my willpower to restrain myself from saying things I'd later regret, but yes, he got a new BlackBerry. I made him wait a couple of days, but after this incident he didn't have the gall to complain.

The takeaway of these incidents? Keep gloves, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer at your desk at all times. You never know when you'll need them.

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This story, "Gross! Unsanitized tales from tech support," 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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