We need a volunteer to literally crawl over broken glass to fix this network

Downside: High chance of injury. Upside: Permanent bragging rights at performance reviews

On Call The Register knows that readers often put themselves in harm's way to ensure tech keeps ticking over, which is why each Friday we salute those efforts with a fresh installment of On Call – the reader-contributed column that details true tales of tech support.

This week, meet a reader we'll Regomize as "Gordon," who once worked for a very large chipmaker and found himself required to show off its latest wares at a colossal trade show.

"We had a stand that took the form of what I can only call 'lily pads' – circular areas about three meters in diameter, each 'floating' about 50 centimeters above the floor of the exhibition hall," Gordon explained. Each pad was themed – one for gaming, one for music, and others for different things one might do with a PC.

"The lily pads were linked by little 'Japanese bridges'," he added. The PCs on the lily pads were connected too.

The whole thing was made to look like a pond in which the lily pads floated and was very pretty.

But 20 minutes before the opening it became very contentious. Venue staff approached Gordon and his colleagues to complain that a switch used on the stand had been given a static IP that conflicted with ones used elsewhere.

"This being 20 years ago now, and remote access being much less of a thing, the only option was to physically swap out the misconfigured switch, which was on the venue floor right under one of the lily pads," Gordon told On Call.

Remember how the whole stand looked like a pond? That effect had been achieved by using what Gordon described as "a deep layer of crushed glass, to give a lovely sparkling ice-field effect."

The switch was, of course, under all that glass. As were the cables that reached it.

"Someone had to crawl over the glass and then, prone and face down, shimmy in under the lily pad, dig through the glass, and pull out the switch and then replace it," Gordon wrote.

And guess who was volunteered for the job?

Gordon was sensible enough to flatten out a cardboard box for protection and escaped unscathed – and with an experience that meant in every subsequent performance review he was able to tell his bosses: "I literally crawled over broken glass for this company."

What's the most dangerous thing you've been asked to do in the line of duty?

To share your story, click here to send On Call an email – a chore that is utterly devoid of danger as we never betray a trust and always Regomize contributors' names. ®

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