Who says you need experience to have confidence?

Flashback to the early 1990s, when this future IT manager pilot fish has just gotten his first job at a small custom computer shop. "Being 17, I thought I knew everything about computers because I owned one that was actually a few years old," says fish. "After all, they don't change much, do they?

"On day one, my new boss showed me a wall full of different computer parts needed to build a PC. Then he proceeded to build one. I watched but, being 17, didn't take any notes and figured I'd remember everything."

Next day, fish arrives at work to find the boss missing and his wife -- who knows nothing about the tech side of the business -- minding the store. But the boss has left instructions for fish to build a computer before the boss gets in.

Fish collects all the parts and assembles the components outside the case to make sure it works before screwing everything down. It all looks fine until he presses the power button.

POP! Every light in the building goes out.

He scrambles in the dark to find the circuit breaker. Once the power is back on, he returns to his workbench -- "Being 17, I thought it couldn't have been me," he says -- and, without changing anything, presses the power button once more.

POP! -- out go the lights again.

"Finding the circuit breaker a lot easier this time, I restored power," says fish. "I never forgot from that day on that the power plugs went black to black.

"And I'm glad the boss's wife was very nice and never told him, because that could have been the end of my computer career."

Sharky won't tell -- well, not who you are, anyway. I'll file off the identifying marks from your true tale of IT life, so send it to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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