Memory-Lane Monday: 240 would be twice as good, right?

Maybe it was the way he said it.

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

Pilot fish walks into his small lab at a big computer maker one morning and finds one of the building’s maintenance guys packing up his tools. So fish chats with him for a bit and then asks what he had been working on. “I had a work order to change the wall power for the lab’s printer from 240 volts to 120 volts,” responds the maintenance guy.

“That's odd,” says fish. “The printer’s been happily plugged into that outlet for years.”

Maintenance guy shrugs and leaves. Almost immediately, one of fish’s co-workers announces that the printer is down.

Fish opens the printer’s cover and looks at the power plate. Sure enough, the printer is built to use 240 volts. So when the printer vendor’s repair guy arrives to troubleshoot the problem, fish immediately fills him in about what the maintenance guy had done.

“This is probably just a screw-up,” fish tells the repair guy, who’s young and new to the job. “The work order must have pointed to the wrong wall plug to change. Just verify that’s the problem and we’ll call facilities and get the screw-up fixed.”

Repair guy simply says OK, with a deer-in-the-headlights look on his face. Then he proceeds to work on the printer.

But, unsurprisingly to fish, he can’t find the problem — because he’s not looking beyond the printer to the wall where it’s plugged in. Fish is then astounded that over the next three days, a parade of printer repair people traipse through the lab. He sees as many as four repair people simultaneously huddling over the problem. He sees them replace the power supply multiple times, along with plenty of other parts.

After days of this, fish hears the long-absent sound of paper moving through the printer. He goes over and sees the original printer repair guy working on it.

Once he’s finished and is filling out his paperwork, fish asks him what he found.

“Oh, the power plate was wrong,” says the repair guy.“It said the machine used 240 volts, but 120 volts is coming from the wall.”

“So now,” sighs fish “it was my turn to simply say OK, with that deer-in-the-headlights look.”

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