Bank boss hated IT, loved the beach, was clueless about ports and politeness

At the dawn of the dialup age, making a connection could be complicated

On Call As the clock ticks towards the weekend, The Register once again welcomes readers to On Call, our weekly reader-contributed tale detailing the trials and tribulations of tech support.

This week, meet a reader we’ll Regomize as "Hugh" who shared a story of his time working for a long-defunct bank at the dawn of the dialup age.

Among the internal clients Hugh served was an exec who gloried in two things:

  • Their very important title as an "Associate Director";
  • Being mean to IT – which this exec insisted always fouled things up and could not be trusted.

Late one Friday, as the clock ticked past 16:30, the Associate Director called IT and let the team know he would be spending the weekend at his beach house and needed email.

The IT team responded with speed and courtesy that would be commendable at any time of the week – never mind this moment in the shadow of beer o'clock.

Hugh and his colleagues configured the PC and did a spot of training to ensure the AD was conversant with the modem he was provided so was to ensure he could enjoy sun, sand, and email.

And with that, Hugh's weekend began.

It ended on Monday morning with a very angry phone call and a summons to appear before the laptop – which had been set up and plugged into a fax line.

"The tirade started," Hugh told On Call, and it was full of "It's always the same: IT mess things up. The things we request never work. I had a big deal to complete this weekend and I couldn't send email!"

On and on it went. Heads turned to witness his public dressing-down.

As Hugh felt his body enter fight or flight mode, he glanced at the laptop.

At which point "a Zen-like calm enveloped me, and I realized I was going to enjoy this."

Hugh let the tirade run its course before seizing his moment.

He calmly leant forward and, in a voice loud enough to be heard by the gathered audience, diagnosed the issue.

"You plugged the modem cable into the laptop's network port."

He moved the cable from the RJ45 socket, where it did not fit, to the RJ11 receptacle, where it did.

The Assistant Director responded with a meek "Thank you."

And Hugh strolled away with the smug satisfaction of having humiliated an habitual humiliator, to an IT department filled with joy.

What have your users plugged into the wrong place? Click here to send On Call an email with your story. We've heard the CD-ROM-as-drink-holder story before, so maybe skip that one? ®

More about

More about

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like