Going...going...not going...going...

This pilot fish has a side business of helping home users set up their new PCs, so he often ends up with the unwanted older machines to dispose of.

And that's fine with his mother-in-law, who runs her church's annual fundraising carnival. "For many years, I'd spruce up one of these systems and donate it to the carnival's 'white elephant' silent auction," says fish.

"Part of the donation involved my setting up the machine at the sale to make sure everything was working OK, so they could demonstrate to potential bidders that it was working just fine."

And that works fine for several carnivals. But one year, there are thunderstorms in the area on the first day of the carnival -- and some helpful volunteer working for the carnival helpfully disconnects the PC to keep it safe from power surges.

As a result, for the first couple days of the carnival, the to-be-auctioned PC sits with every cable removed, and with a handwritten sign that reads "Disconnected due to lightning."

Not surprisingly, after a couple days there's only one bid in the PC silent action. It's for $20 -- and it's by one of the carnival's volunteer workers.

Fish drops by the carnival on its next-to-last day and discovers the disconnected PC. He reconnects everything and tests it, and it works just fine. He leaves it running and removes the "lightning" sign.

But when he returns on the final afternoon, the PC is unplugged again -- and stuck to it is another "lightning" sign in the same handwriting.

Fish reassembles it again -- and this time hangs around to keep an eye out for the helpful volunteer, as well as to reassure several potential bidders that the PC is just fine and, no, it hasn't suffered any lightning damage.

"The enterprising soul who bid $20? She found out at the end of the carnival that once the system was back together, people saw it working and started bidding on it," fish says. "It sold for over $300. I heard that she was not happy about losing out.

"The next year, I donated a working laptop -- with clear instructions on what to do if there was a threat of inclement weather. And the enterprising soul was assigned to other duties, away from the 'white elephant' sale."

Sharky doesn't need the whole elephant -- just the tale. So send me your true story of IT life 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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