Your taxes at work: Three hours driving to turn on politician's PC

Colour-blindness didn't help, but lack of common sense was the real problem

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On-Call Welcome again to On-Call, in which fellow Reg readers share their experiences of going out into user-land to fix stuff, often under trying circumstances.

This week's tale comes from reader John, who wrote to share his reminiscences”working for a local authority in the north of England covering some 800 square miles of territory.”

John lived outside the areas, but tells us he had “a car, a fuel card, and remote access.”

“One evening, about an hour after my on-call time had started, I received a call from a Conservative councillor who urgently needed to get her computer working. She was firmly ensconced in a town hall around 70 miles away, and the screen was blank.”

John patiently explained how to turn it on, check the power leads, the monitor cable and a list of similar basics. He then asked whether the light was green or orange.

“I'm not sure, as I'm colour-blind,” came the response.

At this point John figured he needed to go see the computer, if only because it was known to be part of a batch with faulty hard drives. “We were all given replacement drives pre-configured with the OS image, so it was simply plug-and-play. I told her that I would be there in 90 minutes (the county was notorious for no direct main roads) and off I went.”

On arrival, John found that the the light on the computer was off, but the screen had an orange light.

“I turned the PC on and bingo, the whole thing sprang into life. A ninety minute car journey - each way - including two £3 bridge tolls to turn a computer on wasn't making me happy.”

The councillor offered John a gift to thank him for services rendered: a free one-year membership to her party if I wanted.

Has a client offered you an interesting gift after you sorted out their mess? Tell us about the gift or the mess by writing me an email. ®

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