Senior engineer reported to management for failing to fix a stapler

The demarcation line between IT and stationery is not electricity, but the line between dumb and nasty clearly starts at staplers

On Call The seasons turn, the tides ebb and flow. Just as regularly, each Friday The Register delivers another instalment of On-Call, our reader-contributed tale of another sad constant: IT people being asked to do amazingly dumb things.

This week, meet a reader we'll Regomize as "Phil" who shared a short and sweet tale of his time as a senior systems engineer.

That grand title reflects the skills and qualifications required to tend a sizable fleet of virtualized servers and their respective operating systems.

Which made the support call we recount today all the stranger – because it came from an executive assistant who needed help to fix an electric stapler.

Yes, a stapler. A thing that punches a small band of metal through several sheets of paper. Specifically, an electric one.

This machine was not even located in the facility wherein Phil toiled. Instead, the call came from another office several states away.

Phil nonetheless tried to help, starting with the – pardon the pun – staple tactics of asking the user if the device was plugged in and then requesting it be turned off and on again.

When that proved ineffective, Phil asked the executive assistant what he felt an IT person hundreds of miles away could do to repair the stapler.

"It plugs into the wall, isn't that what IT fixes?" was the non sequitur reply.

Phil's response was to suggest the user contact their facilities department and order a new stapler.

For offering that sensible advice, Phil became the subject of a complaint to corporate that labelled the IT team "unresponsive."

Phil didn't tell On-Call what happened next, and we don't really want to know. Any further complications flowing from this user's actions cannot be pleasant.

But we do want to hear from you if this tale sparks a memory of being asked to fix something that just isn't an IT job or becoming the subject of a complaint despite doing nothing wrong.

Or perhaps this story reminds you of being asked to travel unreasonable distances for small fixes? Whatever the memory we've invoked, let us know about it with a click to send an e-mail to On-Call so we can make you the star of a future column. ®

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