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User left unable to type passwords after 'tropical island stress therapy'

So she used a pencil to work it out, then cut herself down to size to fix it

On-call Last Friday your correspondent snorkeled on a tropical island, but this Friday it's time for another edition of On-Call, our weekly column in which we recount readers' tales of being forced to take on tricky jobs for tricky people.

And this week reader “Mal” brings us a story with a tropical island element, as he told us that “many years ago, I was employed at a large company with a large union staff.”

Mal's team worked on small applications, including one that managed collections from clients seriously in arrears.

Trying to collect cash from people who don't have it is seldom much fun for either party, so Mal says “There was obviously stress on that job, but one member of the staff seemed to excel at working around the business to get what she wanted and used the union to do the dirty work.” This worker would therefore find a doctor willing to attest the stress of collections meant she needed six or eight weeks off to recover.

Mal says these breaks always happened in winter and resulted in a trip to the Caribbean with her significant other.

“How conve-e-e-e-e-nient”, he wrote.

After one year's therapy, Mal says his colleague returned sporting a deep tan, a fabulous manicure and a request to reset the password that numerous margaritas the terrible stress of collections had burned from her brain.

So Mal reset the password … and ten minutes later she was back again asking for another reset. So Mal reset it again. Ten minutes later, same problem.

At which point Mal sent a mate down to figure out what was going wrong.

Remember that manicure mentioned above? Yup. Big, acrylic, fakes. So big that she could no longer type accurately. “Her nails were hitting keys on the keyboard two rows above the keys that she was pressing with her fingertips generating all sorts of extra keystrokes,” Mal told us.

This extra stress was quickly fixed by a grumpy boss placing nail clippers on her keyboard and issuing instructions to get back to work.

Mal says the long-nailed one declined the first offer and “spent the day typing with the eraser-end of a pencil.”

“The next day she returned to work with very stylish, but far shorter acrylic nails.”

Have your colleagues grooming habits ever given you grief? If so, write to me with your story and you might pop up in a future On-Call. ®


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