Flashback Friday: You’re welcome

There’s no winning this one.

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

It’s sometime around the turn of the millennium, and this pilot fish is part of the small corporate IT staff for a regional engineering firm.

“Part of our job was general user support for the marketing and sales staff, most of whom were issued laptops to use,” says fish. “Of course, there was no training on how to use them.

“So one Sunday morning around 8 a.m., I get a phone call at home from one of our VP of sales gurus. He was sitting in a hotel room a good distance away, trying to access his email. Nothing worked, and he needed help now — never mind that we were not supposed to provide support from home or work overtime.”

But the VP doesn’t want to hear it, so fish starts troubleshooting, and soon determines that the VP’s hotel room has digital phones and his laptop has an analog modem.

Fish is working on a quick fix, which will involve getting the hotel engineer to work some magic with an adapter. But in the meantime, VP starts complaining about something new: all the noise in the background on fish’s end of the line. Fish’s young daughter is watching cartoons on TV.

“The VP told me to order my daughter to turn down or turn off the TV, as it was obviously distracting me from solving his problem.” fish says. “And I had a lot of nerve (on a Sunday morning, at home) letting a TV get turned on when I should be working on his problem.”

The following week, fish is called into his boss’s office. The VP is upset that he had to look up fish’s home phone number. He’s upset that the hotel’s system was incompatible with the modem. And he’s upset because of a 3-year-old’s choice of Sunday morning entertainment.

So the VP has written fish up and wants him fired.

Fish is also in hot water with his boss for answering the call from the VP, and then trying to solve the problem.

“I did point out that I was in a no-win situation, since the VP would be equally upset if I had refused to assist him,” says fish.

“The upshot? The VP was told that, in the future, he was not to call us at home. My next performance review told me that I was too helpful. And as soon as it became available in the area, I got Caller ID!”

Don’t call Sharky. I’m heading out to deep waters for a spell, so this is the last Shark Tank, at least for a while. Thanks to all my pilot fish and faithful readers who have made it a pleasure to produce the Shark Tank. I hope to catch up with you all sometime in the future.

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