The building tech claimed he couldn't find the "strange" NEMA connector we had specified. I solved that problem by taking a quick look though the yellow pages and walking to a supplier two blocks away.
While the building tech installed the connector, I looked for where the specialized ground was. After seeing no sign of it, I asked the electrician. "It's right there," he said, pointing to an inch-wide braided copper cable in the corner that came from a hole in the ceiling and exited through a hole in the floor. I asked where the hole in the floor went and was told it went to the building's steel and ground rods under the foundation. I then asked where the hole in the ceiling went. "To the lightning rods on the roof," I was told.
We rescheduled the actual installation yet again, and I spent the rest of the visit going through the requirements step by step. I literally walked the engineer down to the electrical room and showed him where to attach the grounds and how to route them to my equipment (and I ever so gently explained to him why connecting to the lightning rods is considered a bad thing). We also got them to move the condensation drain somewhere else. It took them another week to get the contractors out and get the site ready, but we finally got the equipment installed and the staff trained on its use.
The experience prompted us to change some of our procedures and to not assume anything. For instance, it taught us to be extremely clear not only about the specifications and document them thoroughly, but also to make it very clear to the clients that their installations would not go forward if the site environment specifications were not met. It also taught my peers and I to always double-check with the onsite techs -- not their management -- and verify exactly what had been done before we ever made the trip out to the site.
This story, "Teaching the importance of a hardware-friendly environment," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com.