Grad sends warning to manager: Be nice to our kit and it'll be nice to you

Mischievous techie tells of printing woes soothed by kind words

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On-Call Friday has come around once more, which means we at El Reg get to regale you, dear reader, with tech support tales of the great and good in our weekly On-Call column.

This time, we travel back to the start of the decade with “Mike”, then a fresh-faced grad holding a keen belief in good manners, and a taste for the mischievous.

At the time, Mike was working in a small satellite office for a larger company that relied on a hodge-podge of pre-owned kit that the techies came to know and love.

“There was only a few of us, and we managed the best we could with the variety of hand-me-down, slightly wonky hardware that head office had cast off to us,” he told us.

“Most of us knew the quirks of getting the kit to at least vaguely work the way we wanted.”

However, the rickety peace was about to be shattered, as a foul-mouthed quality manager blew in to hand down orders and throw his weight around.

businessman shrugging - illustration via shutterstock

Sysadmin trained his offshore replacements, sat back, watched ex-employer's world burn


On arrival, the bossman began, as Mike put it, flaunting his “swanky laptop computer” to the rest of the team that were putting up with “hulking huge desktop computers with CRT monitors”.

After plugging himself into the network, Mike said, the manager tried to print off his "torture check list" – but the pesky piece of kit didn’t respond. And try as he might, he didn’t seem to have the Midas touch.

“The manager deleted the job off the queue, and tried again, this time with a flourish of colourful language. Again, nothing happened, and loud deluge of foul language was emitted at the hapless printer,” said Mike.

Seeing that the manager was fit to burst, our eager young chap stepped in to “help” – but not without seizing the chance to take his higher-up down a peg or too.

“I walked up to the printer, and with the whole office now in silence, watching me, I patting the top right corner and said, ‘There, there, little printer. The nasty man won't shout at you any more.’

“I then nodded at the manager, who repeated his attempt at printing the checklist, and the printer gracefully whirred into action.”

Mike’s nemesis was left with an “indescribable look” on his face as our printer whisperer sauntered coolly away.

Of course, Reg readers know there’s a trick up every techie’s sleeve…

“What I hadn't told him was that the microswitch on the lid was faulty, and sometimes the printer didn't realise the lid was closed,” Mike explained.

“A gentle shove in the area of the switch often rectified the situation. I decided keeping that information to myself was the best course of action.”

Have you ever anthropomorphised a machine to get one over on your boss? Taken a quiet revenge on your work’s foolish know-it-all? Tell On-Call all about it here. ®

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