back to article Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz? Detroit waits for my order, you'd better make amends

Friday is here, and with it a story from the On Call archives to remind the unwary of the fiscal penalties that can arise when the patience of those at the other end of the line is tested. Today's story comes from "Jack" and takes us back to the early 1990s, when chucking data around via satellite still had a certain novelty …

  1. John G Imrie


    There is a special breed of user that prefers to pick up the phone rather than attempt even the simplest of resolutions.

    It's the one that's been told if you try and fix it and you make it worse it's coming out of your budget / salary / bonus.

    1. Tom 7

      Re: Users

      There are (were?) a special breed of plugs/connectors that look and feel as if they are connected when they are not. Often the only way of telling they are connected is by the device working. I've found that some dead disk drives can often be brought back to life by putting a couple of loops of string around the connector and drive and tightening it gently by twisting a pencil round and round and sometimes the connector moves visibly and other times the drive just starts up with little if any noticeable movement. As for RF stuff I've found merely straightening the way of piece of coax approaches the connector can make it work, even though it worked the other way for years before failing. That could be because the core is fractured but I've never spent the time checking.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Users

        SCSI ribbon cables.

        When ${device} fails to work, remove cable, place the business end of that connector on the desk and belt the other side with a mallet. Instant fix nine times out of ten.

      2. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

        Re: Users

        This brings back traumatizing memories of Token Ring connectors!

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Don't ask "is it plugged in"

      Tell them to unplug it, along with any power strip etc. it may be plugged into, wait a bit, then plug it back in.

      People aren't going to respond to a question "is it plugged in?" because it makes them look stupid if that's the case. So they'll automatically say they checked it, even if they didn't.

      By telling them to unplug it and plug it back in, they'll think this is part of the process of fixing it. That way if it works it isn't because they were stupid and didn't check it was plugged in, it is because they were personally involved in the process of fixing it by following your expert instructions.

      1. Diogenes8080

        Re: Don't ask "is it plugged in"

        You have learned the tao well, Grasshopper.

      2. PerspexAvenger

        Re: Don't ask "is it plugged in"

        In a (far) previous life, we used "unplug it, blow in it to make sure there's no dust in the connections, turn it 180deg, and plug it back in" to a pleasing PC diagnosis success-rate.

        Nobody ever complained that none of those connectors -actually- go in upside-down over the year I was on the phones, mind.

      3. Tomato Krill

        Re: Don't ask "is it plugged in"

        It’s remarkable how clever a lot of tech support professionals think they are when faced with perfectly ordinary people with at least average intelligence that they are unable to utilise to troubleshoot something as simple as an unplugged device.

        It’s a classic workman blaming tools situation and the inability of some folks to hear what they’re saying (and have the empathy to understand the message it’s putting across) is amazing

        1. Robert Grant

          Re: Don't ask "is it plugged in"

          > It’s a classic workman blaming tools situation

          What is the tool in this conversation?

          1. RuffianXion

            Re: Don't ask "is it plugged in"

            Usually it's the one calling support.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Don't ask "is it plugged in"

              That's a different kind of tool.

        2. John Doe 12

          Re: Don't ask "is it plugged in"

          I actually get your point here. Some tech support people (not all I hasten to add) are so self-loving and superior that they forget mere mortals also roam this planet :-)

        3. Shalghar

          Re: Don't ask "is it plugged in"

          There is a multitude of reasons why the callers seem "dumb".

          The usual reason is corporation rules. You have no technical job description so all you are allowed to to is call for help.

          The second is language. What might be obvious for anyone technically interested might be magickery and eldritch runes for those not interested at all in tech or even scared by any kind of "magic black box".

          Add to this list to your liking and experience.

          But there are also many reasons why tech/support/whatever trained people get impatient and those reasons often are the same why callers seem "dumb" - only from the other side.

          And then there is of course agressive dumbness, stubbornness or plain idiocy....

          Like those customers at (censored), unwilling or unable to open the electrical cabinet to take a look at the PLC screen, flashing red with not only the error code but also the reason for it (safety switch trigggered). Would have helped them a lot to take a look below the machine to discover what we discovered, a piece of broken pallet triggering said switch and thus inhibiting any dangerous movement.

      4. Andy A

        Re: Don't ask "is it plugged in"

        I used to ask them to check the connections round the back - "maybe the cleaners have dislodged something" - even when I knew the rathole of an office had last seen a cleaner in 1937.

        Given the chance to blame someone else, they would happily put back the power lead they had kicked out half an hour before.

    3. macjules

      Re: Users

      No, the special (and very rare) breed of user is one who is happy to thoroughly run through a checklist you provide before you need to venture forth to their office and will call you back to say, "found the problem and fixed it".

  2. Shadow Systems

    Dear Lord...

    Please give me a chance to prove that winning the lotto won't spoil me. Pretty please? With bacon on top?

    *Pure, Sweet, & Innocent(TM) cherubic smile*

    1. Chris G

      Re: Dear Lord...

      Euromillions is something like €73 milion tonight but it still won't be enough to guarantee you can employ someone who will push a plug in correctly every time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dear Lord...

      "Please give me a chance to prove that winning the lotto won't spoil me"

      You've bought a ticket, right?

      Just checking

      Your Lord and Saviour

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dear Lord...

        Why do you keep asking that?

        I just want to win!

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Dear Lord...

        I've long argued with the Mrs. that my chance of winning was only marginally less than hers - but I haven't wasted any money on tickets.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Dear Lord...

          You can buy last weeks tickets for 50% off

          Half the price and only 1 in 100,000,000 less chance of winning

        2. Timo

          Re: Dear Lord...

          Statistically that is true, but in relative terms you have a 100% lower chance of winning than she has...

          1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

            Re: Dear Lord...

            Is it technically not 100% lower chance and instead an infinitely lower chance?

            1/0 - or any other number divided my zero.

      3. Shadow Systems

        Re: Dear Lord...

        You can't be my lord & savior, Cthulhu already knows that I've not bought a ticket. But why should that matter? I never said I wanted to *play* the lotto, just *win* it. =-D

      4. Tomato Krill

        Re: Dear Lord...

        Yes yes I’ve told you it’s plugged in for goodness sake I just want you to fix it

    3. shedied

      Re: Dear Lord...

      You know the answer to that...

      Big booming voice from up above:

      "Throw me a bone here, FFS. At least BUY a ticket!"

      1. Cynical Pie

        Re: Dear Lord...

        In the style of Brian Blessed

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: Dear Lord...

          There is no other voice to use for this! We always knew when he was in the room...

    4. shedied

      Re: Dear Lord...

      You're familiar with the answer to *that* prayer:

      Big booming voice from up above:

      "Oh come on, throw me a bone here, will you? Just go on and BUY A TICKET!"

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sometimes though....

    Sometimes though you just don't get a choice. You *know* the user has done something stupid - but they refuse to listen or own up to it.

    Had it with a customer a 2 hour drive away. When he called in the fault I went through a trouble shooting process (it was a dial-up modem - this was some time ago) and I knew something wasn't right - I could still hear it warbling away when it should have gone quiet after connecting. Of course the user hadn't done anything....

    So I prepare another unit (it had to be programmed for the job in hand), roll up, go to look at the modem, and I notice that there were wires hanging out of the phone socket.

    The user: Oh yes, the modem was making a noise so I cut some of the wires, and now it makes a noise all the time...

    1. Aladdin Sane

      Re: Sometimes though....

      He should've tried that with the plug.

      1. A____B

        Re: Sometimes though....


        There was the occasion when, arriving at work in the morning, everything was dead.

        All servers down, no printers powered up... the works.

        As people drifted in and found that even the kettles weren't working (the biggest disaster imaginable) there were growing murmurings of discontent.

        This despite the company having 'acquired' a UPS system the size of 2 shipping containers and enough capacity to keep a small village going -- for a project of 3 servers and around 80 PCs sitting in some outbuildings on the edge of a main site.

        Questions were asked. Fingers started to be pointed at facilities management and IT.

        Finally, one of the less technical people [ie financial management], with no private life and a desire to come in hours before contracted time, owned up and said "That box in the corner was making a terrible racket so I switched it off" -- of course the 'terrible racket' was the audible alert on the management panel that showed that the UPS had kicked in.

        On a separate power loss topic...

        I also heard a story (possibly urban myth -- this wasn't from my personal experience) of a demo in the days of FDDI networking - early-mid 90s when people could still remember Sylvester Stallone making Rambo movies.

        The vendor wanted to show resilience and 'keep going' features and had one of the fibre cables draped over a tree stump on stage. At a certain cue, an actor rushed on stage with a machete and severed the cable -- and everything kept going. One day however, the cable was not on the stump, so he picked up the nearest one and hacked that -- except it was the power cable, not fibre. Spectacular results, but not too great from a sales presentation point of view :)

        1. H in The Hague

          Re: Sometimes though....

          A decade or two ago they decided to do a soil pollution survey at an oil refinery, by taking samples with a drilling rig. The rig operator discussed where to drill with the maintenance team, they selected locations without underground services and issued him a digging permit.

          Before starting work the rig operator decided to test his kit by drilling a hole in the car park - going straight through the rather thick power cable for the refinery boundary fence. Oops!

          1. Red Ted

            Re: Sometimes though....

            A few years ago, the constructors of a building just north of Old Street station in London managed to drill their piling rig through the railway tunnel below the site!

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Sometimes though....


              1. Scott 26

                Re: Sometimes though....

                re that Lake....

                SWEET BABY JEBUS!!!!!

            2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

              Re: Sometimes though....

              I remember that one all too well... I was one tain off the train that spotted/stopped for it having seen the drill through the concrete ceiling of the tunnel.

          2. Andy A

            Re: Sometimes though....

            I was once sorting out a list of PC problems at a railway depot when the building went eerily quiet.

            I made enquiries and was told that someone had put an excavator shovel through the Big Cable.

            I went and shut down the server before the UPS gave up (cheapskates, so no monitoring software) and wandered over to the main shed to tell the middle management that I was heading off site.

            I commiserated with them that they couldn't even make a cup of tea. "No problem. This buffet car gets its power from the overheads!"

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Sometimes though....

              >This buffet car gets its power from the overheads!"

              The 25kV Kettle, 2nd only to the Boiling Vessel (electric) as symbols of British power

            2. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

              Re: Sometimes though....

              Railway depot, that brings back traumatizing memories.

              Back in my younger days we were doing some PC troubleshooting at a railway depot in S. Florida (PCs and 2 servers full of dust and dirt). While working the skies darken and the rain starts to fall. (not uncommon on a summer afternoon in FL) Then the lightning starts! Lightning is striking all around us, rail cars, out buildings, a lightning rod in the building we are in. We rush to shut down everything and then cower down on the floor while all the old gruff Railroaders sit there drinking coffee and snicker at us.

              After the storm which as usual in FL lasted only 40 minutes, I asked them, "Don't you shut thing down when this happen? Their answer, "No, never have."

    2. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

      Re: Sometimes though....

      On Reddit somebody in r/sysadmin mentioned that he had an user with a dial-up modem.

      Everything worked beautifully, but then the user got ADSL.

      And ADSL doesn't warboe, beep or boop. User was most unhappy.

      Cue brainstorm - every time user want to "connect" to the internet, a script is run playing a .WAV of a modem handshaking and connecting - and user was happy.

      Pub o' clock time, will be gone the whole day to have a bout of nostalgia at those simpler times... --->

      1. Aladdin Sane

        Re: Sometimes though....

        I want that WAV file

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Modem warbling WAV file

          A friend of mine used that WAV file (or similar) as his mobile ringtone for many years.

          Initially it got many smiles when his pockets chriped and warbled and he took out the phone to answer it.

          Upto about 7 years ago, when all it got was "what is that dreadful racket on your phone?"

          There's a whole generation of people out there nowadays who have no idea what a modem is or the sync noises they used to make......

          1. Potty Professor

            Re: Modem warbling WAV file

            My incoming text ringtone is Yoda saying "Ahah! Message from the Dark Side, there is". Once on a train trip on the Llangollen Heritage Railway, the whole carriage were in stitches because my family and I, who had become separated in the rush to board, were texting back and forth, and every time I received a text, the whole carriage erupted.

            1. TimMaher Silver badge

              “I already know what you want!”

              I cut that from Dawn of War, many years ago, and put it on a business issue phone.

              Also cut “Fuck off!” from a Pretenders track and glued it to the account of someone I didn’t like.

              Fun eh?

              Anyone remember the crazy frog?

              1. Anonymous Custard

                Re: “I already know what you want!”

                My ringtone for at least the last three corporate phones has been Ode to Joy. Not so strange I hear you say, except the version I use is by The Muppets (Beaker to be precise).

                Very distinctive and recognizable, and never fails to raise a laugh for those who aren't expecting it.


                1. Gene Cash Silver badge

                  Re: “I already know what you want!”

                  Or you could reference the remastered version actually put out by The Muppets:

                2. ClockworkOwl

                  Re: “I already know what you want!”

                  I prefer 'flight of the Bumblebee' played by Gonzo chewing a rubber tyre...

                3. Wokstation


                  Mine has been the airstrike cheer from Worms for years.

                  "Incoming! Hee! Hehehe!"

                4. Nick Ryan Silver badge

                  Re: “I already know what you want!”


                  I see that and raise you YMCA sung in Japanese... not quite the version that I was thinking of, but close: Seeing people recognise the tune and then hear lyrics in another language sung to it is just so funny... I had it as a ringtone at one point and often got asked for a copy..

              2. GlenP Silver badge

                Re: “I already know what you want!”

                Being a Northampton Saints rugby fan I used to have Wendy (as in Wendy Saints go marching in...) as my ringtone. That was fine until they arranged a charter train for a European Cup match in Cardiff. One phone rang in the carriage and half the passengers reached for their mobiles!

                I changed it after that as being far too common,

              3. Montreal Sean

                Re: “I already know what you want!”

                The custom ringtone I set for calls from my boss:

                Hell's Bells by AC/DC.

            2. Stevie

              Re:every time I received a text, the whole carriage erupted

              Really? because in real life I've found the general tolerance for that sort of thing is about three repetitions before people start looking for improvised weapons.

          2. mdubash

            Re: Modem warbling WAV file

            Yep, had that ringtone too. Until, yes, someone asked why that noise... :(

          3. HandleAlreadyTaken

            Re: Modem warbling WAV file

            My nephew had no clue what the ringing sound at the beginning of Pink Floyd's "Time" was. I was listening to it once, and he asked me - "Did you have cell phones at that time?"

        2. AlanSh

          Re: Sometimes though....

          1. Just A Quick Comment

            Re: Sometimes though....

            Thanks for the link. Will prank/terrorise SOME of my customers with these nostalgic sounds in the next few days...

            1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

              Re: Sometimes though....

              At one place I worked, a member of the Helldesk had a ST:TOS communicator warble\chirp ringtone, as it was a work phone it constantly chirped every 5 mins at full volume & made me very glad when I was able to leave (Icon - Getting me coat).

              There was a Atari coin-op called Space Harrier, which I played once in London venue & quite enjoyed it (Also rather drunk & following on from the hanging out of a taxi going around Hyde Park Corner chatting to two ladies in a open top Mercedes). Until the PCW show where for 6 days, a whole bank of the machines was playing directly underneath our stand & clients lined up to have a go & dying in fairly short order.

              I have never wanted to play that game again.

              1. Intractable Potsherd

                Re: Sometimes though....

                I had the ST:TOS communicator chirp for most calls for a while. However, some contacts had the "Red Alert" klaxon...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Sometimes though....

            Thanks for that, it made me realise I've been using email in various forms now for some four decades (before the Internet, there was FidoNet and Compuserve and all that).

            Hard to believe we all started this stuff with a throughput of 30 BYTES per second (300 baud).

            1. Tim99 Silver badge

              Re: Sometimes though....

              300 baud - You were spoilt. We had some kit connected by crappy POTS wiring that was set to 110 baud…

              1. Aussie Doc

                Re: Sometimes though....

                You 'ad POTS wiring?


                We 'ad a piece o' string wit' two canaries on 'top who would warble.

                On a good day.

                1. Tim99 Silver badge

                  Re: Sometimes though....

                  Two canaries? Thee wasted thine money thar lad, one would av done…

                  1. Glen 1

                    Re: Sometimes though....

                    Mr Moneybags wanted full duplex

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Sometimes though....

                  I implemented an early microwave link to avoid having to lay fibre across the city center, line of sight was across a marina and much shorter, put it in in summer and everything was fine until we got a call sating that things were very slow. It turned out the microwave link was down and they were using the old, very slow Ethernet connection which was the backup. When we looked out the window we realized why, We couldn't actually see the other building due to thick fog, the microwave wasn't powerful enough to punch through. I think we replaced the transceivers with new improved models which were about 10x as powerful and all was well after that.

                  1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

                    Makes a change from

                    aircraft carriers.

              2. Caver_Dave Silver badge

                Re: Sometimes though....

                Acoustic couplers!

                1. Stevie

                  Re: Acoustic couplers!

                  <MODE=Clouseau>And the same to you, you filthy swine!</MODE>

      2. kmceject

        Re: Sometimes though....

        My ring tone for my wife is from Collossus - The Forbin Project. When she calls you hear "This is the voice of World Control..."

  4. Notrodney

    An old boss used to tell the tale of a satellite system that would pack up on Friday afternoons around 4. It had all the techies scratching their heads. They would check every thing was correct but at 4 it would start to play up. One Friday he decided he'd had enough and popped outside for a cigarette... and noticed the drivers from the company next door had finished for the week and were sat outside drinking cans of beer - and throwing the empties at the satellite dish. I don't know how true it is, but it does make for a great troubleshooting anecdote.

  5. Denarius

    not plugged in

    Long ago in mid 1990s, I managed, among others, a server with mostly redundant build. Dual power supplies, dual mirrored disk array, 4 CPU. Every three months or so, one particular disk array would fail due to power loss. Turned out a power cord eased itself out of the power socket on power supply inside server. How and why, no idea. Bog standard power lead and socket. Even IBM used them.

    Changing lead seemed to make no difference, at least in first year. Routine monthly maintenance just included reseat of power leads. Server was in cold airconditioned secured access data center with monitoring cameras. Very few had access, fewer used it. If it was a human, they were sneaky and utterly pointless.

    Server went to new owners after 3 years and oddly, no further problems with the power lead sliding out were heard of. To best of my knowledge said server was sent to NZ and still running five years ago. It is plausible no-one noticed the mirroring failed as server burbled along happily and without log checking one would not know.

    1. RichardBarrell

      Re: not plugged in

      Perhaps it was sitting at a very specific funny angle which allowed vibrations to slowly push the cable out the socket?

    2. Zarno

      Re: not plugged in

      This is why I now use IEC locking cords for mission critical kit.

      They're not terribly more expensive, and they're for sure cheaper than downtime.

      But zero protection from some idjit (swear it's not me m8...) yoinking something a few feet across a desk when they catch the cord...

  6. chivo243 Silver badge

    It's always DNS, I mean power

    Most of my recent call outs have been for power issues... some users could have fixed, some our facilities team had to fix.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      Re: It's always DNS, I mean power

      Most users in my experience should be fixed, unfortunately for me most of them have already had kids.

  7. Sam not the Viking Silver badge

    A Clanking of Chains

    A customer reported that a machine we had serviced was now making an awful noise in operation. Although it had been reinstalled (by the customer), it must be the repairs that were at fault, and as it was protecting a large community it need to be sorted. The local 'Authority' were not happy and very vocal.

    "What were we going to do about it?"

    Could it be that it hadn't been installed correctly?

    "Don't be silly." The fact that a visit would be chargeable if not our fault was laughingly dismissed "We'll see about that."

    For 'Environmental reasons' it could only be run at night, so we arranged to meet that day, on a dark, if not stormy, night, out in the middle of Nowhere-on-Sea. Familiarity with these installations warned me to get there early (and in the light). With hours to spare we decided to carry out a visible check. Noticing that the support-chain was resting freely against the metal surround, a couple of cable-ties secured it neatly.

    When eventually darkness fell, the machine ran sweetly and unobtrusively. The ghastly, ghostly noise had disappeared.

    The customer knew that we we not exorcists and asked that the report and invoice be vague in the fault diagnosis.

  8. aregross

    Hmmm, what to write on the ticket.... I got it!

    "Restored Primary Input Power"

    I've written that on a ticket a number of times but don't ask me that number.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've used "Reconfigured input to wired mode"

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        I once wrote "Telepathy Module failed, replaced with Data Cable" for a printer.

        (This was pre-WiFi days too)

  9. Flightmode

    OK, I'll take one for the team

    What the hell is a "bonzer wheeze"?!

    1. fredds

      Re: OK, I'll take one for the team

      Bonzer is an Australian slang term meaning good or outstanding. Wheeze is a lurk or event.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: OK, I'll take one for the team

      What, are you doollally, you flaming galah?

      1. roytrubshaw
        Paris Hilton

        Re: OK, I'll take one for the team

        "... you flaming galah?" flaming, Bundaberg-swilling, galah?


    3. Aussie Doc

      Re: OK, I'll take one for the team

      In my part of Outback Oz® we have a great saying: We're not here to fuck spiders ie let's get the job done.

      Certainly more truthful than the late, lamented Kevin Rudd (former PM) and his "Fair suck of the sauce bottle" comment.

  10. Dr. Heinrich Backhausen


    Somewhere in the two Volumes of Murphy's la, there are two of the most important here:

    (a) It work's if you plug it in.

    (b) An expert is anyone from out of town

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: Murphy....

      Expert: Man from out of town, in a suit, with a briefcase.

      1. A____B

        Re: Murphy....

        A very old definition (I heard it back in the early 70s and it wasn't new then)


        "Ex" as in "has been"

        "spurt" as in "drip under pressure"

        1. GlenP Silver badge

          Re: Murphy....

          Mathematicians version has X is an unknow quantity

  11. ColinPa

    You have checked the number?

    In the days of dial up ( where you plugged your hotel phone into the side of your laptop), I was in working in Japan. You gave country and city and it dialed the right number for you. I could not get the local (free phone) number to work, so had to dial international - it cost thousands of pounds.

    I reported the problem to the local team who said the phone number was working fine, it must be me. I hadn't time to argue as I had an anxious customer.

    I sent an email saying I was trying to use number 012345678 ... and got a fax machine, and asked them what number they used... they said "98765421, 012345678 doesnt work"

    My boss sent them the bill for the phone calls and a snotogram - and they updated the phone list the next day!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You have checked the number?

      where you plugged your hotel phone into the side of your laptop

      If you were so lucky, with every country doing its level best to stave off international competition by having different plugs, using different wires in the cable.

      A screwdriver and a lead ending in a couple of crocodile clips quickly became part of my international travel kit. Every hotel could rustle up a main power adaptor, but phone adaptors?

      That said, it was fun being able to travel to wonderful places on someone else's dime :).

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: You have checked the number?

        Followed by the: you have to dial 7 for an outside line, then if it's international drop the first 0, unless it's a month with an R in it, then you have to add ....

        1. Bitsminer Silver badge

          Re: You have checked the number?

          Followed by the refusal of the modem to obey disconnect. 10 hours of sleep later, at $4.00/minute.....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A screwdriver and a lead ending in a couple of crocodile clips

        I never needed most of them, but an old laptop of mine came with quite the collection of phone adaptors; but most of the problems I had were because it only had a winmodem as opposed to a real one.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Think there is part of the story missing.....

    In my experience, when I say "I plugged it in," I get an very indignant "I already tried that!"

  13. Fred Daggy Silver badge

    Wot, all of them?

    There is a special breed of user that prefers to pick up the phone rather than attempt even the simplest of resolutions.

    Oh hell no. All of them pick up the phone.

    One particular cretin (almost all other users in need of help are not cretins, this one was and still is), who is now CFO, rounded up IT Director (not CIO) because no one had been around to replace the AA batteries in his mouse. Double A batteries on a mouse with the battery door visible, it slid off. And therefore, he could not work.

    IT Director called his shit and dragged him to the CEOs office and called him every name under the sun. Unfortunately, both kept their jobs for a few years. The money man should have been sacked for just being a complete arse - every day of his life.

    Said CFO became a dad a few years later. It was speculated by everyone in IT, to a person, that this only happened because a favourite device of his wife also ran out of batteries.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      Re: Wot, all of them?

      Well done to the IT Director.

      We had a FO stick a ticket in demanding that someone from IT ring a WFH employee, to find out why they weren't on line (Teams) or responding to his e-mails.

      IT Director saw it & shot back with a phone call saying its not my currently overworked (Said IT Director had wisely purged 60% of the IT Team just prior to the pandemic lockdown) & stressed teams job to do your fucking job which is to enforce the concept of ACTUALLY working from home to your team members, instead of logging in at 7:55am & logging off 6 minutes later.

      1. Fred Daggy Silver badge

        Re: Wot, all of them?

        IT Director was great. A Lad, never a Cad.

        Most of the time you hear "work hard, play hard" - should be interpreted as "Run away". In this case the IT Director really lived it.

        Similar to our situation, incompetent bosses "Can you block Facebook, our employees spend too much time on it". IT Director "How about you do your f#cking job?"

  14. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    I tell them something about tapping it upsidedown to make sure no dust has got in.

    Which reminds me, my keyboard is sounding a bit crunchy.....

  15. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    I'm pretty sure ...

    ... it's plugged in. It's hard to see under the desk what with all the lights and building power being off.

  16. Aussie Doc

    Really smartarse title here

    Whenever I got the calls that meant I had to travel a long way (not hard living in the middle of nowhere!) I would always insist that the person turn off any obvious power outlets and unplug the power cord and tell me if one of the metal prongs had a bright yellow line running down one side.

    For the record, as far as I know, no Australian plug has ever had a bright yellow line anywhere to be seen.

    Them: No, I can't see one on the plug.

    Me: Is there one on the off switch when it's turned off?

    Them: No, that's clear, too.

    Me: Okay. Just try and replug it in, turn her on and see how it goes.

    Them: Well, fuck me, it's working now.

    Me: I bet it's those damn cheap power outlets.

    Them: See you in the pub next time you're in the neighbourhood.

    Works every time and no feelings are hurt.

  17. Muscleguy

    I have recently started work as a school science technician, the prep lab contained an ice cube maker which I was told had not worked in the three years since the it ha been moved from the old to the new buildings. I switched it on and it grew cold inside, so the compressor was working, but no water flowed.

    So I pulled out from under the bench and perused the point where the inlet hose came off the piping. There was a little tap lever, it was in the OFF position. I moved it to the ON position, replaced the unit under the bench then switched it on. Water flowed, soon ice cubes began to thunk down into the hopper.

    Nobody had done the test I did and wondered why the water did not flow. The teachers were too busy, the guy who came in twice a week to do a full time job there was also too busy. I’m full time and very curious with a fixit mind.

    Something like that is a puzzle in need of solving.

    Some people are just not curious or take a fatalistic mindset or ‘it’s below my pay grade’. I have a PhD, it was not below mine.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting parallel

    The experience of many school support special education teachers and NHS staff (Speech and Language/OT/physio etc) is quite similar.

    "Have you tried <well established strategy>"

    "Oh yes, we've done that"

    "OK we'll book an appointment for my next visit"

    Cue several hours of paperwork; parental consent forms, creating intervention records etc etc for all concerned.

    Specialist arrives in school some days/weeks/months later (depending on length of waiting list). Can see no trace of the recommended strategy ever have been tried. Speaks to support staff/class teacher.

    "Oh yes, we tried it one afternoon last term. It didn't work."

    "You do know this has to be done 10 minutes every day for a month and then reassessed......"


    Is it just me or...

    ...does everyone think equipment like this should have a clear power indicator?

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