Computers? Not my job

An IT tale about a tech support call for a printer that wouldn't print -- and the reason why

I work for a department that provides computer hardware support at an integrated steel mill. The company produces steel from raw materials to finished product. The steel workers take shifts around the clock, seven days a week, and our group is on call for production emergencies.

I received a call one weekend that a production printer would not print out the lineup sheets. Our company is fairly large, and I had never been to this particular location before. It was a trailer located in the steel slab yards. This is where they store steel slabs until ready for processing. The workers in the trailer operate the cranes in the slab yard and mark the steel with order numbers.

[ Want to cash in on your IT experiences? Send your tech tale, lesson learned the hard way, or war story from the trenches to If we publish it, we'll send you a $50 American Express gift card. ]

I went into the trailer and noted about eight employees sitting around a table playing cards. "Nice job if you can get it!" I thought.

They indicated that the printer across the room would not print. I asked if it had been printing at all and they said, "Yes, it was printing earlier, but then just stopped."

I had never seen this type of printer before. It was a Japanese model, about four feet tall and three feet wide. I thought to myself, "How am I going to begin repairing this?" I knew we would have no spare parts for this printer, as I had never seen another like it anywhere in the plant.

Upon inspection, there were no lights lit. I pressed a few buttons to no avail. I considered that maybe the power supply had died.

First, I had to verify if it had power. I followed the power cord across the room to where the men were playing cards. The cord went around the table to the socket. I could immediately see that one of the men's chair legs had knocked the cord out of the socket. I reached around and plugged the cord into the socket. The printer sprang to life and started printing out the lineup sheets.

Incredulously, I said to the men, "There are eight of you here and not one of you could figure out that the printer was unplugged?"

"Not my job!" was their reply.

I just shook my head and left, content to get four hours' pay (the minimum call-in rate) for five minutes of work.

I couldn't believe that the employees could be so apathetic or unmotivated that they didn't at least try to resolve the problem before calling someone in. It wasn't a rocket-science solution, nor would it take any skill to solve.

It's no wonder that IT costs are high, when you get silly calls like this one.


Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

InfoWorld Technology of the Year Awards 2023. Now open for entries!