Headless, redefined

Flashback to the 1980s, when CRT monitors are very big in this small IT consulting company, according to a pilot fish on the scene.

"We used Falco monitors with our minicomputers," fish says. "Like all computer monitors in those pre-flatscreen days, they were big and heavy. They were also pretty sturdy.

"Despite their rugged build, a user did manage to break one by knocking it off a desk. The picture tube and associated electronics survived, but the pivot that attached the CRT to the base platform did not. That part was irreparably broken, and a replacement part was prohibitively expensive."

After swapping in a new monitor, fish's group brings the decapitated unit back to the office, where the lone hardware tech dubs it "Headless Wonder" and it's put to use occasionally -- and always moved very carefully.

A year goes by, and the business grows enough to hire an assistant hardware tech. The new guy comes on board just in time for a big installation job at a customer site.

That means dozens of new computers, monitors, and printers are received, unboxed and tested, and they're sitting on every horizontal surface in every room of the company's offices.

"On the morning of the install, we all pitched in to help our hardware tech and her new assistant carry equipment out to the company van," says fish.

"As the loading job was nearing completion, the new guy came back into the office carrying a Falco base with no CRT attached. His face was red and he was nearly in tears. 'I swear I didn't drop it,' he said. 'I was carrying it to the van and it just fell apart for no reason! I swear, it just fell apart!'"

Everyone stares at the new guy for a few seconds. Then someone asks, "Where's Headless?"

No one has told the new guy about Headless Wonder's little problem during the few days he's been on the job. Turns out that, because Headless wasn't hooked up to anyone's system, the new guy assumed it was part of the big install.

But while Headless survived a tumble to a carpeted office floor, it was no match for the paved parking lot.

"Had this happened to anyone else in the company, everyone probably would have burst out laughing and mocked them," fish says. "However, the new guy was so upset that none of us even cracked a smile. Instead we just reassured him that it wasn't his fault and he wasn't going to be fired during his first week on the job.

"Of course, we did laugh later, after he'd been with us long enough that he wasn't 'the new guy' anymore."

Got a 'new guy' story? Tell Sharky about it. Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp 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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