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Old 07-24-2006, 12:48 PM   #2
still eats dirt
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 3,031
Working helpdesk was often hilarious, but there were times when the frustration bordered on too much. Managers and directors were the worst, by far, because they knew just enough to be dangerous... (wavy lines to indicate flashback inserted, here)

Back when I was an intern, my manager, R, had ordered a new laptop and asked me to set it up for him and give him an overview of how it worked. In return, he gave me his old system to replace my aging desktop, which I took back to my desk and plugged in to wipe the disk, re-install, etc. I flipped the power switch and walked away for a moment, and came back to find the error, "You've attempted to use an IP address already in use on the network." Expected, since we used static IPs in that office and I had set his new system up with the same. R called to complain he got a similar message and I explained it was because I hadn't changed the network address on the old system, yet, and that he should click 'OK' and ignore it. I dropped in a boot disk, formatted the drive, and thought nothing of more of it.

...until three days later when R suddenly called me into his office. He slammed the door shut, sat down behind his desk, and began rubbing his temples with a heavy sigh. An eternity seemed to pass, but after some moments he simply stated, "If you confess now, I won't fire you." I sputtered. R turned red with rage and a vein on his forehead looked as if it were about to burst as he calmly, quietly told me that he knew I had been "stealing his e-mail" and that "I would be fired on the spot" if I didn't explain what was going on and return it immediately." I was dumbfounded, but R told me that he knew the Windows networking error he had received was proof that I had been "stealing his network traffic".

I smiled, as this was obviously a simple misunderstanding, and began to explain the network, the purpose of an IP address, the benign error message he got, and that e-mail required authentication and that our Novell system was using IPX for e-mail, etc, etc. R sat with clenched teeth and listened carefully, but his expression of coffee-fueled anger wasn't phased by the simple diagram I had drawn on the whiteboard. As an easy solution and check that R's e-mail was working, I walked back to my desk and sent a quick e-mail from my school account. I returned to his office and told him to check his e-mail. Ding! A new message from me. With this, I knew, I'd be in the clear and R would understand everything. R's voice still wasn't raised, but he had balled his hands into fists and was visibly trembling.

"I don't appreicate this game."
"Excuse me?"
"You're playing a game and doing this on purpose. You rigged that e-mail to come through and you're still stealing my important messages. I want my e-mail back and I want you to start packing your shit up right now."

I went pale. I pulled the e-mail administrator into the room along with my supervisor. The queue was checked and proven clear. When someone suggested that R simply might not have gotten any e-mails, recently, because no one sent any from the outside world, R exploded and began yelling that he was a "goddamn important person" who got "e-mails every fucking day!" In his rage, R actually began to throw items off his desk, demanding that the stolen goods be returned or that he was going to have everyone's heads.

It took hours of watered down explanations and printed system logs to prove no one had done anything with his precious e-mails.

Three days later, R had calmed down and managed to squeak out a basic "I'm sorry" to me and stopped showing up for work a week later. He had suffered a mental breakdown, although no one was sure if the e-mail incident was the cause or a symptom, and never returned.
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