It’s not the tool — it’s how you use it

It’s many years ago, in the days when a top-of-the-line IBM Selectric electronic typewriter is every secretary’s dream to have — and this senior secretary is getting one, says an IT pilot fish working there.

“To say the least, she loved it,” fish says. “She also lorded it over the other secretaries that didn’t have one.

“So one day, someone put one of those Christmas light interrupters on the Selectric’s power cord. The senior secretary would type a few words, then the Selectric would die. Then revive. Then die.

“An IBM repairman was dragged out to our site to fix the problem. He thought it was pretty funny — and still charged for the call.

“But I did learn from him a great technique for ‘fixing’ technical problems.

“The repairman would get calls from people who had just switched from a manual typewriter to a Selectric and would complain that ‘something’s not right with the typewriter.’

“When he would get to the user, he’d pull out a very fancy tool case. Then he’d open the case and pull out a 12-inch, gold-plated screwdriver.

“He’d insert the blade end of the screwdriver into the key area of the typewriter, place his ear against the handle and give the screwdriver a quarter turn.

“And that always ‘fixed’ the problem.”

Fixing Sharky’s problem doesn’t require a screwdriver — just your story. Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You can also comment on today’s tale at Sharky’s Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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