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Mouse Not Included… Sort Of…

, , , , , , , , | Working | March 16, 2023

About twenty years ago, I was employed as the sole IT staff member for a small organization in the agricultural field. I worked from an office in the city where I lived, but we had several farm facilities in the region.

One morning, I received a call from the bookkeeper at one of the remote sites. She was one of several staff working in a small office attached to the barn. She reported that her desktop was starting to crash and freeze at apparently random moments, and the problem was getting worse.

After some basic troubleshooting over the phone, I agreed to come out in the afternoon to investigate. This site only had two moderately ancient IBM-AT class machines that were in need of replacement, but management had not yet approved my upgrade proposal.

Upon arrival, I decided to start by opening the case and giving the insides a quick check and cleaning. As I slid back the cover, I was shocked to see almost the entire interior of the PC filled with straw, shavings, and mouse turds galore. As I stood speechless, staring at the mess, it suddenly began to move. As I jumped back in surprise, a mouse appeared from the middle of the wad and lunged for an opening in the back of the case. Someone prior to me had installed and then removed an add-in card for this machine. But when they removed the card, they had neglected to reinstall a cover plate for the slot. I imagine the warm toasty interior of the PC was quite an inviting habitat for the little critter.

I spent the next hour or so carefully removing the debris inside the case and cleaning up as much of the mouse turds and urine as I dared without further damaging the motherboard. After this treatment, the PC booted up normally and appeared to work just fine for the rest of my time on-site. I opened the other PC in an adjacent office and found more or less the same situation, but there was no active inhabitant, fortunately.

I located several slot covers among the old computer debris on the site, so they were installed on the open slots of both machines before I buttoned them back up.

Shortly after reporting this to management, the proposal to replace these two mouse houses was approved. Fortunately, the staff had no further problems with the old machines until they were replaced.

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What is the most stupid reason a customer has asked to see your manager?

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