How hard can it be?

After three decades as a IT consultant, this pilot leaves his long-time employer to start his own company -- and discovers just what kind of client behavior he's been shielded from for all those years.

"One of my first clients was a small firm that had one server," says fish. "Everything relied on that server -- and it was geriatric. It also had no support warranty, and the vendor didn't offer renewals on a machine that old.

"One day, while I was arguing with the primary client contact, an accountant, that even though it still worked, some day it would fail and we'd have a grand time trying to get parts, the predicted failure happened. The motherboard failed totally."

Fish immediately starts looking for a replacement motherboard. The vendor refuses to sell one at an affordable price, because it needs all its back stock for customers with warranties.

But fish searches the Internet and, amazingly, finds a replacement at a price that's not outrageous. He gets approval from the client immediately, has it shipped to the client site for next-business-day delivery, and plans a trip to the site to replace the motherboard and rebuild the server.

It's a fine, crisp winter morning when fish arrives at the client site -- and finds the accountant elbows-deep in the old server, with parts strewn around the room. The dry, carpeted, static-filled room.

Fish can see that the accountant is trying valiantly to rip the old motherboard out of the server case. He also sees, to his relief, that the new motherboard had been unpacked but is still in its anti-static bag.

"Hey, can you help me figure out how to get this thing out?" accountant says.

Please put the screwdriver down and step away from the computer, fish says. NOW.

"What? Why? I figured I'd help out." Accountant straightens up and reaches to shake hands with fish -- and a fat blue spark jumps from his hand to fish's hand.

That's why, mutters fish.

"Fortunately, nothing was damaged," fish says. "But to this day, when I order replacement parts for clients, I now have them shipped to my office."

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