I couldn't possibly tell you the computer's ID over the phone, I've been on A Course™

That time a PA put the 'ass' into 'asset tag'

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Today's tale of phone-based antics comes from "Mike", who spent the early part of this century working in the IT Moves and Changes teams for a large Edinburgh-based financial institution.

Mike's journey to infamy began with a ticket raised by one of the executive personal assistants requesting a CD/RW drive for her PC.

"As was quite common," Mike told us, "she supplied the Asset ID of her monitor instead of the base unit.

"After all, the 'telly' is clearly the computer, not the 'hard drive'," he added, acidly.

We suspect that Mike might have become a little jaded by helpdesk tickets over his time there, which probably explains the rest of the story.

Party blower image via Shutterstock

Security? We've heard of it! But why be a party pooper when there's printing to be done


Patiently, Mike picked up the phone and called the PA to talk her through finding the correct identifier for the computer. However, the phone was picked up by someone else, another PA, a man who had clearly been on A Course and was very reluctant to hand out personal information.

Like an Asset ID.

"Oh no," he told Mike, "I couldn't possibly give out that sort of information over the phone."

We suspect Mike's patience snapped at this point as he retorted: "What?! It's just a random number. It means absolutely nothing to anyone outside of the IT department. And look at the phone display, this is clearly an internal call."

The PA was having none of those tricks. "Nobody was going to fool him into handing over 'sensitive' information.

"Whilst most of the executive PAs were quite charming, this one clearly felt he was the defender of the executive office."

Mike took another tack. The office used two types of PC – Compaq computers, which were equipped with a 733Mhz CPU, 128MB of RAM and 20GB hard disks, and HP machines, which enjoyed an impressive 1.2GHz CPU, a mighty 256MB of RAM and a thunderous 40GB of hard disk space.

Helpfully, the Compaqs were coloured white and the HPs coloured black. Or "Ivory" and "Carbon", as Mike explained to us. For reasons that you would probably also have to go on A Course to learn about.

All Mike needed to know was the colour in order to fit a matching drive.

"He eventually, after much pleading," said Mike, "confirmed that the PC was indeed 'Carbon' and I was able to get on with my work."

Mike thanked the PA for all his "help" and got the chap's name, doubtless ostensibly to ensure the ticket reflected who said what.

Except what Mike actually did was change the fellow's password to something, ironically, that rhymes with "banker".

"I left not long after."

Ever had to patiently explain the difference between carbon and ivory to a user? Then taken sweet, petty revenge? We've all been there. Send an email to On Call and share the pain. ®

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