Computer keyboard

The year was 2001: the year before many countries in the EU switched from using their national currency to the new euro. As part of the switch, many financial software packages had to be upgraded. Today's submitter, Salim, was hired as an IT support staffer in a medium-sized healthcare organization in the Netherlands. While Salim had a number of colleagues, they had to support a greater number of small satellite offices, and so on occasion any of them would be left to hold the main office alone. It just so happened that Salim's first solo day was the day they were testing the software upgrade, with the CFO himself executing the test.

The manager of IT had prepared well. Every aspect of the test had been thought through: the production server had been cloned into a fresh desktop computer, placed in the server room, set apart from the other servers so that the CFO wouldn't accidentally touch the production server. To make it stand out, rather than a rack they'd placed the computer on one of those thin little computer desks that were in fashion at the time, a little metal contraption with a drawer for the keyboard and wheels so it could be moved. The setup got an office chair and a phone, for comfort and so that the CFO could summon help if needed. The CFO had been given step-by-step instructions from the software vendor, which he and the manager had gone over ahead of time. All the bases were covered. Hopefully.

Early in the morning the day of the test, the CFO walked to the support desk and asked for access to the server room. Salim walked him to the room, unlocked the door for him, and pointed him to the computer desk. Before he left, he pointed out the phone and gave the CFO his direct extension in case anything went wrong. The CFO thanked him, and Salim left him to it.

No sooner had he sat down than the call came: the CFO asking for help. Although he had a good deal of general IT knowledge, Salim hadn't personally inspected any of the instructions and didn't know much about the software. So he walked back to the server room, anxiety growing.

Arriving in the server room, Salim found the CFO standing next to the computer desk. Salim sat down, pulled the keyboard out from under the monitor, and flicked on the screen. Summoning up his most professional voice, he asked, "Right, how can I help?"

"Ah ... thanks," came the reply. "I can manage from here."

Salim writes: "To this day, I do not know if his problem was not being able to find the keyboard, or switch on the monitor."

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