By comparison, 'What's your sign?' would be cool

It's the late 1980s, and this young, single IT pilot fish is working for a company where the computing mainstays are Wang minicomputers.

"There was a cute girl who worked in one of the other buildings," says fish. "So, using my godlike admin powers, I sent a text message to her terminal to ask her out for lunch. I figured it was a safe and discreet way to communicate.

"On Wang terminals, such messages caused the whole screen to switch from the user's application to a system-settings screen, with room for a single line of text buried in the middle of all the system prompts and options.

"She was new to the company and Wang terminals. When suddenly confronted with a screen full of gobbledygook, she was confused and didn't see the message amidst the prompts.

"But all the secretaries around her were familiar with such message screens, and immediately noticed the line of text. They started laughing and giggling among themselves, and calling others over to read the message, before the poor girl could even figure out what was going on. She turned red while frantically trying to find the right key to switch back to her application.

"She was nice about it later. But, no, I didn't get a date. And I never did that again."

Sharky's sign is "True tales of IT life wanted." Send me your story at sharky@computerworld.com, and you'll get a stylish Shark shirt if I use it. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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