Throwback Thursday: Something in the air

It's the 1990s, and this IT support pilot fish is working at a factory that manufactures electronic components, setting up PCs and running the network.

"One day I received a call from a user I'd never heard from before," says fish. "He worked in the chemical treatment area and informed me that his four-month-old PC was not working.

"I walked to his area and he informed me the PC was in his testing room. I entered a closed room and immediately began having problems breathing."

His lungs burning, fish runs back outside and tells the user there's no way he can work on the PC in the testing room -- it will have to be pulled out.

With an annoyed sigh, user goes into the room -- with no more protection than fish had -- and unhooks the PC and brings it to fish, who's still coughing.

Then he starts gasping -- at the condition of the PC. "It was covered with a light coat of rust, and when I tried to open the screws to enter the case they broke off," fish says. "I opened the case and almost fainted. The PC had a hydrochloric acid smell. The entire motherboard was eaten away and all the metal components had started to rust away.

"I told the user that, in my opinion, it was the condition of the environment that caused the PC to fail. But what I was more concerned with was, if the PC looked like this, what did the inside of his lungs look like?"

That's when the user goes pale -- and fish goes to make a doctor's appointment.

Fish's doctor prescribes a week of steroids to cut his coughing, and puts fish on medical leave for a few days.

When fish returns to work, he checks up on the user with the problem PC. But the user is out on medical leave for an undisclosed illness.

And when fish goes to check on the PC, he finds that the user's "testing room" now has a new ventilation system, along with signs declaring that proper covering and masks must be worn when working in the area.

"Rumor had it that the user sued the company," says fish. "I don't know if that was true or not, but when he came back to work he was driving a new car."

Never mind a car, Sharky just wants your true tale of IT life. Send me your story at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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