Why, at least sometimes, we love our users

It's 2005, and this pilot fish is working third-shift IT support for a hospital when he gets a call from what's obviously an older nurse.

"Someone has shut down this dedicated work station, and now I can't access the terminal," nurse says. "I know that someone has shut it down, and it wasn't a power outage."

How can you tell? fish asks, knowing there aren't a lot of telltale signs of the difference between a manual shutdown and a power failure.

"I can tell because it says right here, 'It is now safe to turn off your machine,' and that only happens when someone shuts it down. Everyone is supposed to know not to do that, but someone has."

OK, fish thinks, score one for her. He patiently walks the nurse through the process of finding the power switch and shutting the PC off completely, then waiting the hospital's standard 60 seconds, then powering it back up again -- all the while chatting about who might have turned off the machine, and why, as well as what she's seeing on the screen.

Ten minutes later, fish knows she's a nurse in her late 60s and the PC is a Windows 95 workstation with a terminal program that automatically starts to connect to the records system when it's booted.

"Well. There we go," she says, "it's back up and working," and fish closes the ticket.

But the next night, the same nurse calls: Same problem description, and nearly the same conversation.

Another ten minutes and it's running again -- and this time they talk over how to solve the problem. The solution? She puts a note on the PC that reads, "Please do not shut down this computer as it takes nearly 20 minutes to restart it afterwards. Thanks."

Fish tells her, "If they keep doing it and you keep seeing this screen, then just follow the same steps again. If it doesn't come back up, then feel free to give me a call back, and I'll help out."

Nurse tells him she'll just start checking it at the start of her shift.

Reports fish, "She never called in for trouble with that system again, and I got kudos from her for having her push the power button a total of four times and chatting a bit.

"Best. Kudos. Ever."

Sharky wants your best -- or worst -- story ever. Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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