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."

Sharky assumes that you've got a true tale of IT life too. Send it to me at sharky@computerworld.com. I'll send you a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

Now you can post your own stories of IT ridiculousness at Shark Bait. Join today and vent your IT frustrations to people who've been there, done that.  

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