Why we love doing tech support for 'friends'

IT pilot fish comes in to work one day to find a co-worker who's brought in a PC from home -- with an invitation to see "the world's worst memory upgrade."

"Barney opened the case," fish says. "In one of the memory expansion slots was a small memory board that clearly didn't match the size of the slot. Plus, it was sitting at a funny angle.

"Barney told us one of his friends wanted to increase the amount of memory in his computer, and asked how much it would cost. Because this was a friend, Barney gave him a lowball estimate that included only the actual cost of parts. But the friend accused Barney of overcharging him, and said he knew a guy who could do it for a fraction of that price."

Hey, go for it, Barney told him.

Sometime later, the friend returned, looking desperate. Seems when the bargain memory upgrade was complete and paid for, the friend took his PC home -- and it wouldn't boot.

But Mr. Bargain Memory insisted his upgrade couldn't possibly have caused the problem. You must have done something to the computer after you got it home, he told Barney's friend.

Once he opened the case, Barney surveyed the state of the upgrade. The memory board obviously didn't match the slot it was sitting in. But Barney can also see that, to keep it from falling out, Mr. Memory had rolled up what looked like a wrapper from a stick of gum, and wedged it into the slot to hold the mismatched board in place.

"The damage had already been done," says fish. "The foil on the gum wrapper had shorted out the entire system.

"Barney kept the corpse long enough to show it to everyone at the office, then gave it back to his friend with a revised estimate: Buy a new computer."

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