A basement of broken kit, zero budget – now get the team running

Did our hero get the accolades he deserved? Did he @£$%

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On Call Friday is here again, bringing with it the ferreting for loose change to pay the beer bill – and, of course, On Call, our weekly column in which readers tell us how they dealt with a tech support drama.

This week, we meet "Hugh", whose tale of "make do and mend" landed in some rather hot water.

Hugh worked at a major non-profit, acting as tech support for three offices that each covered a "somewhat impoverished" US state.

"They'd gone a year without any tech support," Hugh told us – meaning that paper jams and the like were being phoned in to the national office.

In a tale as old as time, Hugh reported that the allocated IT budget had been "spent" before he arrived, which meant he was handed a rather challenging task.

"I came in and was presented with a basement full of broken laptops, and an order that getting the field staff working laptops was vital," he said. "And there was no budget with which to accomplish this miracle."

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The laptops were mostly the same run of old, tired Dells so Hugh set about stealing parts from some to get others running.

"This got about 20 per cent of them working, which made my boss 20 per cent happy and gave me a 20 per cent chance of keeping my job," he said.

But then luck struck – at a gabfest for the organisation's IT staff at the national HQ, Hugh met some colleagues from the richer states.

"They were complaining about how much they had to pay to dispose of their obsolete but working laptops," he said – and Hugh was naturally eager to help.

"I made the generous offer that if they just shipped them to my office, I would happily dispose of them."

Two weeks later, sitting with stacks of working laptops in the basement, office and hallway, Hugh was no doubt ecstatic at having solved the crisis.

His boss, however, seemed incandescent with rage. "She yelled at me for humiliating her in front of her HQ peers," Hugh said, with a shrug. "Ya just can't make some people happy."

Hugh added that the field staff – who finally got to down pencils and use the laptops that they were supposed to have had all along – were more supportive.

When was the last time you got disciplined for completing a task successfully? Do your methods always toe the line? Tell On Call about your tech support triumphs here. ®

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