Red computer cooling fan

Larry worked in the IT department of a medium-sized financial company. Bright and early on what should have been a promising day, the phone rang. Larry cursed the caller ID for informing him that Graham was on the line. The resident old man of the office and bane of IT, he frequently disregarded sound advice and policy to satisfy his own whims.

Powering past the foreboding that'd settled over him, Larry picked up the phone and forced out a greeting through teeth that were already set on edge. "Good morning, IT services. How may I help you?"

"Yeah. I need help with my computer." Graham skipped decorum to get to the heart of the matter. "It won't turn on."

The computers the accountants used were old, but still in good shape. Larry hoped he'd be able to deal with this over the phone. "OK. Let's walk through some basic troubleshooting—"

"No!" Graham cut him off. "Someone's gotta come over here! I can't afford to be dead in the water with month-end coming up!"

Larry stifled a groan. "Let me log the ticket in our system, and I'll be right over."

He hung up, sparing himself another useless rant, and filed the ticket. That done, he left his cube to head for the accountants' corner. The heat from their ancient boxes ratcheted the temperature several degrees higher. Half a dozen whirring fans worked overtime, but only pushed hot air around in a futile exercise.

"Where the hell were you?" Graham reclined in his swivel-chair, greeting Larry with a scowl. "It doesn't take that long to walk over here."

Larry tugged at his collar, ignoring the cheerful welcome. "Let's go through some basic troubleshooting, OK? I'm sure you already did a lot of this before you called—" Yeah, right, he thought to himself "—but I just wanna be thorough here. First, let's make sure it's plugged in."

Graham didn't budge an inch in his chair, his expression unimpressed.

Larry verified the computer was plugged in. The monitor powered on obediently, but the box remained dormant. Switching outlets didn't help.

"When did this happen?" Larry asked next. "Did it just shut down while you were in the middle of something, or did you shut it off yesterday and can't start it up now?"

"It was fine yesterday," Graham replied. "It won't start up today."

Larry dug into more specific details, none of which helped with the matter at hand. "My guess is that it's some kind of hardware problem," he concluded with a sigh. "I'll probably have to take your machine to look into it further."

Graham bolted upright in his chair. "Unacceptable! I need this fixed now!"

In his peripherals, Larry noticed that Graham had taken to twirling something through his fingers. He glanced over for a better look, then gaped. Was that ... a screwdriver?

Larry's viscera clenched up. Dreading the answer, he asked, "What'd you need that screwdriver for?"

Graham glanced at the tool in his hand, then shrugged. "The sound the computer was making was bothering me, so I took out the source."

"Oh, for ..." Larry stifled himself, then grabbed the screwdriver. Upon opening the box, he confirmed the fan was missing; a quick search determined its new home to be the trash can in the corner of Graham's cube. In the process of the fanectomy, Graham had also managed to unplug several wires and destroy the motherboard.

Aware that it probably wouldn't stick, Larry nonetheless delivered a remarkably polite, profanity-free explanation about the risks of opening computers, and why one should never remove fans. Before returning to his own desk, he asked all of Graham's cube-neighbors to kindly warn him if they ever noticed a tool in their coworker's hands again.

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