Troubleshooting a CFO's login problem

An important meeting minutes away, a login that won't work, and a highly stressed CFO create a help desk situation that calls for patience in this tech tale

An old supervisor of mine once told me that patience is a virtue and the customer is always right. On occasion, it has helped to remember this advice; however, nine times out of ten, I had to rely on my patience in situations where the customer was, in fact, wrong.

When I worked on the help desk as a desktop support tech, I had a myriad of different quick-fix calls that I would get done without leaving my station. Most of the calls were password resets, keyboard/mouse issues, and the good old "check the nut behind the keyboard" fixes.

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Unless they were a high executive with deadlines breathing down their necks, the customers often laughed at their little mistakes.

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One day, I received a call from the CFO's assistant, who needed me upstairs ASAP to help the CFO with a login issue. He had to access some emails for a meeting that was to occur in 10 minutes, and he was getting highly irritable and panicked about being unable to log in. From my desk I checked Active Directory to ensure his password was not locked out and found no incorrect logins. I advised changing the password, but the assistant said there wasn't time for that and to come up. I ran to the elevators and went to the executive areas to help.

Once I arrived, the CFO berated me with questions: "Why isn't this like my access at home? When will this be fixed? BLAH BLAH BLAH Hurry up." I attempted to give him some quick answers while walking toward his computer, but he brushed me off and said, "Just fix it."

I sat down and made sure there was an active connection on the LAN, and once assured, I logged in as myself, accessed emails and the Internet, and then logged off. I then suggested that the CFO try.

He sat down and entered his information and was denied access. He was impatient and wanted me to fix this problem. I sat down again and logged in as myself without an issue. I was perplexed by the problem. I then had him try again.

I watched as he typed and looked away for a minute. That was when I noticed it as I looked at his pictures on the wall and saw his MBA diploma.

That's when I asked him to stop typing his password and compared the last names: He was misspelling his last name.

I pointed this out, to which he replied, "It couldn't be that easy."

After correcting the spelling of his name, he logged in and was prompted to change his password. His face turned a crimson shade, and he graciously apologized for being belligerent.

As I walked out of his office, his assistant stopped me and asked me what the problem was. I told her that he forgot who he was and explained, to which she burst out laughing.

All in a day's work.

This story, "Troubleshooting a CFO's login problem," was originally published at Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at