You just had to ask, didn't you?

It's a decade ago, and this government department has just rolled out laptops to the executives and directors, reports this IT manager pilot fish.

"The director above me thought the IT department was a waste of money -- which is a nice quality in a manager, I think," fish says.

"At any rate, we gave the directors and executive team a quick 'put your laptop on the docking station and plug the Ethernet cable in' demonstration and everyone was working fine."

But on the second day, fish gets a call from his director. She can't log into the network.

Fish goes to her office to check it out. The network cable isn't plugged in. He shows director how to do it again. No problems. She's happy and connected.

Two days later, the same thing happens again. After solving his director's problem, fish sends an e-mail out to everyone with new laptops, reminding them to plug the network cable in -- even though that director is the only one who ever forgets.

"Over the next three weeks, she forgot several more times," says fish. "I eventually made up a bright yellow label for the cable so she would remember."

Then it's time for the monthly interdepartmental meeting that includes all the managers, directors and executives. That's usually just run-of-the-mill stuff -- a few quick status updates on various projects and time to answer questions.

That's when fish's director pipes up. "Why has the network been so unreliable lately?" she asks. "I have been unable to log in pretty much every morning."

Fish: There have been no network issues at all.

Director: "Well, why have I been unable to log in?"

Fish: Do you really want me to answer that?

Director: "Of course I do, and you'd better have a good answer."

Reports fish, "I then replied with the story about how she kept forgetting to plug the network cable in.

"The tension in the room relaxed quite a bit as she stormed out and everyone broke out giggling.

"The IT department was moved from under her directorship shortly after."

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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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