Problem Exists (In The Impossibly Tiny Space) Between Chair And Keyboard

| Chicago, IL, USA | Working | January 8, 2013

(I write software for manufacturing companies. I’ve just written a program for a company with a plant in Iowa, and have installed it on the supervisor stations at the manufacturing sites. It has been online for about two months, and has gotten lots of praise from the people who have used it. One morning, at about 2 am, I receive a phone call from one of the night supervisors at that plant.)

Supervisor: “Your program’s screwed up! It locked up after I had put in about 90% of the data I need to, and it won’t let me finish!”

(I remember this supervisor: it’s important to note that his office makes trash cans look spacious. For someone to open the door, he has to turn his wheeled chair ninety degrees. There’s no room to back the chair up; you need to stand up, push the chair under the desk, move out of the way, and then open the door.)

Me: “Okay, tell me exactly what happened.”

Supervisor: “I was entering data, when [line boss] comes in with the orders for the morning shift. I talked with him about them for about 2 minutes, then he went back to work and I sat back down at the computer  I tried to continue typing, but nothing is happening!”

Me: “Try moving the mouse. Does the cursor move on the screen?”

Supervisor: “Yes, that still seems to be working.”

Me: “Good. I was kind of expecting this problem  Click on the SAVE button in the program.”

Supervisor: “But I’m not done entering the data!”

Me:” I know, but this way you don’t lose any of the work you have done. Let me know when it says save is complete.”

Supervisor:  “Okay, it’s done.”

Me: “Now, look at the back of the keyboard. Do you see the cable coming out the back?”

Supervisor: “Yes…”

Me: “Follow the cable back to the end.”

Supervisor: *grunts* “Okay, I can see the end.”

Me: “Is it plugged into anything?”

Supervisor: “No.”

Me: “When you turned your chair, your knee probably caught on the keyboard cable and unplugged it. If you plug it back in, everything should be fine.”

(I listen to the sounds of grunting for a minute. Eventually, he gets back on the phone.)

Supervisor: “Yeah, it works now. Tomorrow I’m getting a wireless mouse and keyboard. Thanks!”

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