It's the 1980s, and this company has just acquired a voice-recording system to document sales calls, reports a pilot fish in the know.
"The guy who commissioned the purchase had left the company, and the technician who was supposed to run it was on vacation," fish says.
"Then a crisis erupted because a deal agreed to on the previous day was rejected by the client when the paperwork reached their end. This was a big deal with the largest client, and the reputation of the company was at stake."
A junior programmer is handed the manual for the system and told he has 20 minutes to figure it out.
And less than half an hour later, the programmer, the CEO, the CFO, the head of sales and the salesman are all packed into a tiny room housing the tape drives.
The programmer is pretty sure he has figured out what channel the salesman was on and what approximate time the call was, and he starts playing the tape. But all anyone hears is: "Hello...uh-huh...you're right...definitely not...I don't know..."
A quick flip through the manual later, the programmer changes a few settings and rewinds the tape. This time the sound is a lot clearer: "Hello, Joseph! I can't believe you let your mother visit you and your apartment in that state! It's a disgrace! I didn't raise my son to be like that, did I? Definitely not, I decided to be helpful and do your laundry and do you know what I found in your dirty underwear?"
They never do find out, as the programmer manages to turn off the tape to try different settings.
"The good news was that the client agreed to the deal when the correct part of the tape was played back," says fish, "although the salesman voluntarily moved on to another job before collecting the commission."
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