Oh, THAT'S what you meant!

Flashback a couple decades to the days when one company is handling IT support for four hospitals, four regional health departments and a collection of smaller healthcare facilities, all spread over a wide area -- and this pilot fish is in his first week on the job there.

"I was working at the help desk when a call came in from one hospital," fish says. "The pharmacy was unable to dispense drugs, as the server running the program was unable to boot.

"I asked the pharmacist what error message was on the screen."

Pharmacist: "It says 'Missing operating system.'"

Fish: Press the restart button and tell me if the error message returns.

Pharmacist: "Restarting...It still says 'Missing operating system.'"

Fish: OK, turn the computer off and back on and press F8. When the menu pops up, select Safe Mode and press the Enter key.

Pharmacist: "When should I press F8?"

Fish: Just after you see the first display.

Pharmacist: "Did that, but it still says 'Missing operating system.'"

Fish: How many times did you press F8?

Pharmacist: "Once."

Fish: You need to keep pressing F8 until the menu pops up.

Pharmacist: "OK...After pressing it multiple times, it still says 'Missing operating system.'"

Fish: Is there anything in the diskette drive?

Pharmacist: "No."

Fish: Is there a CD in the CD drive?

Pharmacist: "No."

Fish is out of troubleshooting possibilities, and the situation in the pharmacy is now clearly urgent. He tells the pharmacist that he'll be onsite as soon as humanly possible.

A 110-mile drive later, fish arrives at the hospital, steps into the pharmacy, takes one look at the server -- and sees that the button on the diskette drive is all the way out.

He pushes the button. Out pops a diskette.

Reports fish, "The astonished pharmacist said, 'Oh, that's what you asked me about. So that's a diskette?'"

"I punched the restart button and the server booted into Windows. Then I walked out without uttering a syllable -- and called in sick for the rest of the day."

Before you knock off for the day, send Sharky your story. Email your true tale of IT life 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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