Remember the Dutch kid who stuck his finger in a dam to save the village? Here's the IT equivalent

It only took colleagues an hour to notice our hero was missing

Who, Me? Welcome back to Who, Me?, The Register's weekly dip into the bottomless pool of cunning and calamity supplied by readers who have, in a real sense, been there and most definitely done that.

Today's tale, from "Mark", takes us back two decades to the closing years of the 1990s.

Mark was working for a financial services organisation that had invested in some Aspect gear and had a telecoms switch to route calls around its call centre.

"I had just moved into the role of junior call centre technology analyst," he recalled, "and was being trained in programming the call routes."


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Unsurprisingly (for anyone who has had a job title beginning with the word "Junior"), a chunk of Mark's job required that he swap out the backup tapes from that switch. It was simple enough – press the eject button, remove tape, stick new tape in and hey presto.

Thanks to a stunning bit of industrial design, the reset button for the switch just happened to be located next to the eject button.

Of course, "I had been warned that the eject button and the Switch reset button were located next to one another," admitted Mark, but observant readers will be able to guess what happened next.

It had all been going so swimmingly. "I had heeded the warning and ejected the tape correctly a number of times," he boasted. However, one Monday, the inevitable happened...

"I pressed in the eject button and was unpleasantly surprised to not see a tape make its way out into the cold gloom of the data centre."

It took a moment for the awful realisation to dawn: "I had pressed the damn reset button..."

However, all was not lost. "This reset button only actually performed the reset once released," meaning that if he kept the button pressed, nothing would happen. Calls would continue being routed around operators.

In a delicious irony, Mark did not have a phone within reach and had to wait in the cold, dark data centre, his finger mashing the boom button, until somebody noticed he'd been missing for a while.

Mark "had to wait for an hour" until his colleagues found him.

"After they had finished laughing at me," the team had the telecoms provider play a "Sorry, we're experiencing technical difficulties" message in order to release Mark and let the switch go through its reset cycle.

"I never quite lived that one down..." Mark remarked ruefully.

Ever felt your stomach drop out of your bottom as you realised you'd pressed the wrong button a millisecond too late? Or endured a cold, dark hour or two as you waited for someone – anyone – to rescue you from a darkened data centre? Of course you have, and you should email the kindly vultures at Who, Me? to confess all. ®

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