IT Horror Stories
You could say our engineers at Worksighted have been around the block a time or two. In their tenures as IT superheroes, they’ve seen some “stuff”… the good, the bad, and the ugly. In our experience, there’s nothing that’ll animate engineers faster than a good horror story: Crazy network design, absurd user requests or nightmare cutovers. We asked our team to share their “favorite” stories from the field. But before we begin, let’s just give a Fargo style disclaimer:
THESE ARE TRUE STORIES.
The events depicted in this blog took place in Michigan in the 20th and 21st century.
At the request of the survivors, identifying information has been changed.
Out of respect for the victims, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.
**The majority of these stories are from experiences prior to working at Worksighted.**
“How’s the sprinkler going off relevant?”
Plant manager calls me and says “my laptop won’t boot”. I walked him through everything I could think of. I finally told him I would overnight him a laptop. As we’re hanging up he added: “oh my desk phone won’t work either.” Rather than troubleshoot that, I just threw a new phone in the box and sent it out. He plugged it all in the next day, worked well. I told him to ship back the faulty gear in the same boxes I’d sent. He did, and when I opened the box to reimage that laptop, the laptop and phone were covered in what looked like paper mache. I called him and casually and asked him “what the fu#^ was all over this gear??” Turns out the sprinkler line above his desk burst and doused everything with mashed up ceiling tile and water. Why he failed to mention this on the call is a mystery for the ages…
“What’s a computer?”
I asked a customer to bring in their computer so we could take a look at it. They walked in with just a monitor and I asked where the computer was and they responded with, “oh you mean my hard drive?
“Back in the late 80’s…”
…we had to do a fair share of motherboard replacements on IBM AT’s due to mouse nest/urination issues. the back of those systems had two round keyboard connections OR might be missing a slot cover. Mice would make nests between the motherboard and the power supply.. and urinate on the motherboard as needed. Replacing those were nasty.. AND smelly.
We used to do quarterly PM’s on all equipment. This would entail shutting down the system and blowing dust and vacuuming out the computer interiors and cleaning the heads on the floppy drives. Well, this client did not want the system shut down so I had to remove the cover to do the work. In the process of removing the cover from an IBM XT, it snagged the top of the Plus Development 20MB Hard Card and crashed it. I got chewed out by the client for an hour… One of my lowest points in my early IT career. And yes, it was 20MB not 20GB.
“This will do the trick”
I was onboarding a new customer for my previous job that was about 40-50 users. The biggest complaint from them was their network was super slow and inconsistent. I walked into the network closet and found only an 8 port switch. Traced lines from it to the drop ceiling and when I popped my head up there, it was a sea of blinking lights across the whole office. Found out that whenever their previous IT person needed more network ports, they would just buy the cheapest 8 port switch they could find, throw it up in the drop ceiling, run an extension cord to it and call it good. It was a MESS of cables and extension cords up there. I don’t think the previous person believed in wall jacks, so cables would just go right from the switch in the ceiling and come out of the wall under the desk and plug directly in to the device. This also meant if a cable needed to be longer, he would just use a female to female connector and plug another ethernet cable in to that.
“I didn’t invent electricity, ma’am”
A couple of my favorites (or not favorites) were: 1 – the user that chewed me out because her desktop computer didn’t work while the power was out (there are IT urban legends, but it actually happened), 2 – boot up a computer to “fix” it and find the entire desktop was filled with shortcuts to adult sites (no more space for icons full).
“This is not a good time…”
One I’ll never forget, was when I was called for a helpdesk issue while my wife was in active labor. The person on the phone knew my wife was in labor before calling but said “It’s important and you’re easier to get ahold of than your boss.”
“Well you said it was wireless…”
I traveled 40 minutes round trip to plug a printer into a power outlet because the helpdesk reported “the printer is down, get out there.” Upon showing up, I explained to the nurses that we can put desktops in the middle of the classroom, but we’d need to run a power cord, they were confused about what “wireless” meant.”
“Have you heard of a break room?”
I had a client who, I am sure, ate over his keyboard daily. The keyboard literally had crumbs and crusted with what I am assuming was gravy or soup.. who knows… It was NASTY.
One of the professors would eat carrots and ranch over their keyboard every day. They would put the ranch cups on the other side of the keyboard though so small bits of the ranch would drip into the keyboard every day until eventually, we got a ticket that the professor’s keyboard stopped working for some reason. Needless to say the keyboard went right into the trash without much troubleshooting and was replaced as soon as we saw it.
“Keep your shirt tucked in”
At my previous job, I had a truck driver place his Honeywell hand-held computer on the wheel of his truck while he was making a delivery. He forgot it was there and ran it over. He also ran over his bluetooth printer that was used to print delivery receipts. This happened at 5:30 in the morning, so I had to get out of bed and drive to work early to get another handheld set up for him (if you have any familiarity with Windows Mobile OS, that’s not easy.) I then had to drive out to where the truck was, but he didn’t stop to wait for me, kept on with his route. Address kept changing. I should mention that his route was an hour away from my office. After all was said and done, he had his new hand-held and printer. I drive the hour back to the office where I had a conference call meeting with my manager about how I need to keep my shirt tucked in during business hours.
We are happy to report we are seeing less and less IT horror stories as clients take control of their technology infrastructure and focus on a technology plan that drives growth. If you feel like you are stuck in the land of constant tech horror stories, send us pictures! (Just kidding, please just call.) If nothing else, we’ll share a good laugh with you.