"Is it a full moon?" I ask the PFY disgustedly as I put the phone down for the third time this morning.
"Could be," the PFY says, deleting a swathe of jobs from the helpdesk system.
"What could be?" the new Boss asks, fresh back from his course on helping people the IT way.
"A full moon," I reply.
"Why?" he asks, smiling faintly and waiting for the punch line.
"Because there's a large number of weirdos calling for help."
"Yes, as in Lunatics," the PFY replies.
"Hence the full moon reference," I add.
"Sorry, I'm not with you."
"Lunatic - from Lunar, meaning to do with the moon, and Tic, meaning..."
"...uncontrolled movement." the Boss finishes.
"No, tic - from Tick the box which says 'I'm a loon'."
"Oh. But what makes you think things are any worse now than normally?"
"Look at the helpdesk call frequency for a start. In any normal day they'll get around 100 or so calls total, around now they're clocking 150, 180."
"It could just be an anomaly."
"The same anomaly, every month. Even the calls are different - look at this one," I say, tapping my screen.
"What about it, a printer's not printing."
"No, and it's because the toner cartridge is out. And they know it's out because the printer tells them that it's out. Any other time they'd just replace the toner cartridge, but today they suspect that it might be a cunning plan by the printer manufacturer to sell more toner cartridges by saying the cartridge is out when it's not."
"Like the inkjet people do," the PFY adds.
"So what - you show them that the cartridge really is empty."
"Oooh no, that would mean that I'm being paid by the printer company. No, they'll be expecting step by step diagnosis, followed - finally - by the successful printing of a single page, before the toner light comes on again. Then they'll be satisfied.
"These diagnostics, what are they?"
"How about we show him, Sheryl?" I say to the PFY.
"Hello, I'm ringing about the printer problem," the PFY says
"Now you have a new toner cartridge on hand?"
"Yes, but I don't want to use it as I'm sure we used to get a lot more pages out of our old printer."
"The one with the larger toner cartridge?"
"I...I can't remember."
"Ok, well let's just run some checks shall we? Can you pull the current toner cartridge out and rock it gently from side to side, then forward and backward and then put it back in the printer?"
"No, the light's come back on."
"Then it's probably out of toner."
"But it still feels heavy."
"As heavy as the new cartridge?"
"Which is still in its packaging?"
"Ok, how about we try some more diagnostics. Can you turn the paper in the tray over and hold the ready button down for five seconds"
>whirr click whirrrrrrrrr<
"It's printed a page, but it's a bit patchy."
"Patchy like when the toner cartridge has run out?" the PFY hints.
"I...No, it's just patchy."
"Right," the PFY says testily. "Do you have a piece of light cardboard?"
"Uh...I've got some...120 GSM backing card."
"Put that in the paper tray and hold the ready button down again."
>whirr click whirrrrrr<
"It's come out patchy and a bit crinkled."
"Patchy like the toner cartridge is out?"
"Ok, do you have any laminating plastic?"
"Ok, listen very carefully. I want you to put a piece of laminating plastic into the paper tray, inside up, then a piece of paper, then a piece of laminating plastic inside down. Got that?"
>whirr click click whirr click click ccccllllllliiiiick<
"It's got a jam."
"You did put it in laminate up, paper, laminate down?"
"You think so? If you got it wrong it'll clog up the printer."
"I...I'm not sure."
"Ok, we're going to have to come and look at it. Can you use your departmental printer meantime?"
Wait for it....
"The toner cartridge is out and we only put it in about a month ago."
"Ok, we'd best run some diagnostics. I'll need a couple more sheets of laminate, an A4 sheet of tin foil and a small bottle of acetylene free contact cleaner."
"I don't think I have that..."
"Ah, nail polish remover will probably do..."