What took you so long?

This IT pilot fish works the night shift at a manufacturing plant -- he's the on-site plant floor support tech.

"On-site user support is only provided during the daytime, by a completely separate organization in my company," says fish. "Night-shift user support is provided by an offsite help desk."

One night as fish arrives at work, his swing-shift counterpart tells him, "Someone called about having trouble with e-mail, so I told him to call the help desk."

Half an hour later, fish gets a call from a supervisor named Barney, who complains that his e-mail isn't working.

Did you call the help desk at extension 1234? asks fish. Barney repeats that his e-mail isn't working and he needs it to do his job.

Fish explains that Barney's e-mail is in Lotus Notes, which fish doesn't use, doesn't know about, doesn't support and doesn't know how to fix. He also points out that the offsite help desk for Notes is very good.

"Call the help desk and call me back if it's still a problem," he suggests.

Another 30 minutes go by and Barney calls fish back, saying he needs his e-mail to work.

Fish offers to use NetMeeting to try to help him, and explains that the user just needs to click on Start, then Run, then type "conf" -- that's Charlie Oscar Nancy Foxtrot. Barney grumbles that he doesn't know anything about that technical stuff.

But before fish can begin to walk Barney through the process in baby steps, Barney is called away.

Two hours later, Barney's boss -- a superintendent -- calls to inform fish that Barney's e-mail isn't working. Fish asks if Barney has called the help desk. "I don't know," super says. "I'll get back to you."

One hour later, Barney calls again to tell fish that his e-mail still isn't working.

Fish: Have you called the help desk?

Barney: "I need my e-mail to do my job!"

Fish: I'll be right down.

"I walked the quarter-mile to his desk -- no exaggeration," sighs fish. "I asked some simple troubleshooting questions and fired up NetMeeting. I used his desk phone to call the help desk and gave the offsite tech the IP address, and the tech fixed the problem.

"From the time I sat down to problem resolution was less than five minutes."

It won't take much longer than that to send Sharky your true tale 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.

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.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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