This comes from one of our female readers, so the last story here has a bit of a different feel… – Rob
For the first few years of my professional IT life, I was the jack-of-all-trades for a small business, including all sysadmin duties on top of developing and maintaining all aspects of the website, and being in charge all marketing for it as well. I decided to switch jobs because I wanted to have a life, and jumped to a large web development shop to narrow my focus.
As I was (and still am) more interested in user experience and front-end development, I ended up in the “Creative” part of the company that developed the front-end. So it was populated with UX’ers, HTML developers and graphic designers. When word got out in the department that I actually understood the mysteries of computers, my new colleagues would quietly check with me first before embarrassing themselves with our internal support desk.
In the ensuing months, I patiently showed them how to remove the lint from their mouse rollers (this was the early 00’s), to check for the Caps Lock light when they couldn’t log in, to check their cables (the cleaning staff regularly loosened cables with less than gentle cleaning) and to make a circuit of our three network printers to make sure they had selected the correct one and/or there was enough paper and toner before they declared the printer wasn’t working. The IT department learned to love me since their support calls dropped off dramatically (and also because I regularly brought them offerings of triple-chocolate espresso cookies ).
But my most memorable experience was when I came in early one morning, and found one of the graphic designers – a really nice but scary looking pierced/tattooed monster of a man who looked like he belonged in a motorcycle gang – sitting at my desk near tears. Knowing I came in earlier than the other Creative staff, he had been waiting for me for the past 45 minutes He had come in 2 hours earlier to finish up a project that was due by 12 noon, and “couldn’t get his computer to work”. The screen was “all black” no matter how many times he rebooted. The computer was also making “funny chugging sounds”.
As we walked to his desk, I started asking the usual questions about cables and power cords and such – he had checked everything. I was beginning to think that maybe the hard drive was actually fried until I sat down and powered up his computer, saw the POST message and then the “chugging” started.
I shut the computer down and ejected a floppy disk from the A: drive. The poor designer’s face was vacillating between utter relief and absolute mortification. I quickly rearranged the boot order and assured him I wouldn’t tell anyone. (And haven’t until today, over a decade later )
[Picture Source: leyla.a (CC)]