Never assume

It's just a few years ago, and this help desk pilot fish is creating a new account for a longtime employee but first-time user.

"He was an older mechanic who had been there for years," says fish. "But timecards had just gone online, and he needed access to the time-card system and e-mail."

Fish finishes setting up the account, then explains to user that he needs to choose a password -- one containing at least one capital letter, one small letter, one number and one special character, totaling 8 to 14 characters.

User nods -- and stares at the keyboard.

It must be the special characters he's confused about, fish thinks. He points out the extra characters on the number keys.

User nods again -- and keeps staring.

Maybe he just can't think of a password, fish says to himself. He writes a few examples on a piece of paper.

User thanks him -- and keeps staring at the keyboard, obviously puzzled.

"After several more minutes, I asked the gentleman if I could assist further," says fish. "He replied that he didn't see any small letters on the keyboard.

"After a quick lesson on the function of the shift key, he explained that he'd never touched a computer or typewriter before. No need -- he'd been a mechanic all his life."

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