The server is down, money is not being made, and you want me to fix what?

The sound of silence? No, no, it's stupidity


On Call A reminder of who is really in charge and how one should set one's priorities awaits in today's episode of On Call.

The story comes from "Aziz" and tells of the time he was working for a New York private equity firm that, according to our reader, "managed obscene sums of money and expected its upper echelon staff to be treated with a degree of reverence most often reserved for saints and dictators."

We know just the sort of place.

Our tale begins with Aziz hard at work resurrecting a server. Naturally, it had to be back online as soon as possible because, you know, those obscene amounts of money don't just make themselves.

Unbeknownst to him, his priorities were about to be changed as a phone call came in from of the firm's bigwigs demanding immediate assistance. Having hidden himself in the server room to avoid just such an interruption, Aziz was not at his desk. An assistant and two support staff were despatched to find our hero and eventually he was dragged to the receiver.

What could be so vital as to require a three-person search party and a halt to server restoration?

Sound. The bigwig was unable to make sound come out of the speakers of his brand new home computer.

Aziz held the telephone handset away from his ear until the "WHERE WERE YOU?" ranting stopped before adopting a professional tone and asking the user to walk him through the problem.

Petulant whining and complaints removed, the problem boiled down to when the new speakers were plugged in, no sound came out. When they were unplugged, sound worked fine through the internal PC speaker.

Taking a deep breath, Aziz asked if perhaps the speakers had been plugged into the microphone socket? "OF COURSE NOT" was the retort of the frustrated user.

What did Aziz think he was? Some sort of idiot?

"I gently inquired as to whether the speakers had a volume control knob on them..." Aziz went on.

The phone went very, very quiet.

Possibly as quiet as those speakers had been before the user sheepishly turned the volume dial up from the "0" where it had been languishing all along.

There is no report on the reward Aziz received for his patient service or if he was compensated with a set of earplugs ahead of the next super-urgent demand from the boss and his shiny new toy. We're sure the warm glow of a job well done was recompense enough.

Ever been yanked from a task of titanic importance in order to deal with a manager's trivial whinging? Or made a bigwig happy with a mere twiddle of a knob? You have? Share your tale with an email to On Call. ®

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