IT help desk calls: Dead mice and office supplies

A techie at a government contractor shares stories of the services some users expect from their IT help desk

I work in the IT department for a government contractor, but I used to work for a law firm.

From time to time, legal secretaries from high-dollar law firms come work in our office. But because we are a litigation support contractor and have a different budget, some of these legal secretaries are in for a rude awakening: Many of the extras that the firms they come from often provide (like the overtime perks of paid dinners and taxis home for bus/transit users) are not available here.

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We have heard stories about a new hire discovering that a perk they expect to receive is not in the budget. And every once in a while, our IT department experiences firsthand a level of expectation for service that is above and beyond what we do. But, to tell you the truth, I'm not exactly sure a law firm IT staff would have handled some of the issues we've been expected to act on.

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Pay attention to the wording of the issue Monday morning bright and early, a legal secretary called down to the help desk and said, "I have a dead mouse -- hurry to my desk."

Monday morning bright and early, a legal secretary called down to the help desk and said, "I have a dead mouse -- hurry to my desk."

One of the techs grabbed a USB mouse and headed up to the secretary's desk.

About 20 minutes later, the tech came back with the USB mouse -- and a slightly miffed look on her face. She told us what had happened.

As our tech had come into view, the secretary had stood up and said, "There, under the desk."

Our tech said, "OK. Let me unplug your old mouse and then I'll run this new one through the cable conduit."

The secretary said, "Oh no, not my mouse. It's a dead M-O-U-S-E and it's under my desk."

The tech, still thinking it was a computer mouse, began to kneel down at the desk, then almost fell over backward.

The problem with the mouse at the secretary's desk was that there was an actual mouse (brown, furry rodent, four legs) dead under her desk.

The tech looked at the secretary and said, "Oh, no, we don't take care of those kind of mice."

The secretary looked at our tech and said acidly, "Our help desk back at the [legal] firm always did. A mouse is a mouse."

Our tech looked at the secretary and then at the dead mouse and said, "Not here we don't. You might want to call them and reminisce about old times." And walked away.

Once the tech told us the story and we had a good laugh, we called the building maintenance, reported vermin, and they took care of it.

Help desk concierge

Our help desk, which supports over 100 people, received a call one mid-afternoon.

User: Umm, I need yellow stickies, pens, a few legal pads -- and can you also bring me plastic spoons, forks, and napkins.

Help desk tech (confused): This is the IT help desk. We don't have those things.

User (continuing on like she had not heard him): I'm working late tonight, so where do I get my dinner? Are there vouchers you hand out, or is this a pay-first, reimburse-later type of thing?

Help desk tech (more confused): Sorry? Excuse me, but I'm not following you. Do you have a computer, network, or an application issue?

User: Yes, I have those issues also, but can you take care of my other issues first? My old help desk never gave me this much trouble.

Help desk tech: I only take care of IT issues. Getting your plastic utensils and arranging your evening meals are not IT-related. Did you get this type of service through your "old" IT help desk?

User: Oh yes, and they also brought me pens, and paper, and all my office supplies.

Help desk: Wow. How big was your firm before you came here?

User: About five people, and the help desk was in the storage room, so they would bring the stuff to us.

Help desk: We don't do that here; the help desk is strictly to assist you with IT-related matters. I can tell you the storage room is on the second floor, and all the supplies you need have to be issued by the office facility staff. Their number is XXX...

User: *Click*

I guess every place is different, every help desk is different, and every user's expectations are different. But no help desk tech should have to pick up dead mice!

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