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Things Are Heating Up STUPID Fast

, , , , , | Working | CREDIT: MacrossX | August 25, 2021

I received a help ticket for an employee in our office. “Desktop keeps overheating and shutting down. I am behind on work and missing deadlines because of this repeating issue that has resulted in lost work!”

She had a space heater under her desk pointing directly at the desktop “because her feet get too cold in the air-conditioned office.” I removed the unapproved heater and ran tests, and the desktop was fine. I checked the event logs and it had only ever shut down or crashed once from overheating. I explained this to the employee and told her that you can’t expect a PC to not overheat when heated. I made notes in the ticket and delivered the space heater to the facilities manager.

The employee raised a big stink with her manager, who talked with the facilities manager and had the heater returned with a facilities approval tag. They didn’t involve me at all, and the unit was placed exactly back in the same spot.

I received a second ticket for the employee the very next day. “Desktop is overheating again. I cannot continue to work like this. Fix it or replace my desktop with a laptop.”

I showed up and saw the heater right back where it was. The desktop was off, and actual hardware damage was done to the motherboard this time. I replaced it with a spare desktop of the same make and model. I routed all cabling and placed the computer on the desktop so it wouldn’t melt from the space heater.

The employee complained that the desktop took up too much room on her double-sized cubicle desk space and she should have a laptop. I explained that I didn’t have a laptop available, and it actually took up less space than a laptop anyhow once you factored in the docking station. I explained again that the space heater had killed the previous machine, and it should not be placed next to a heat source. I CC’d her manager on the ticket. I also let my manager know about the whole deal because both cases were totally avoidable.

The third ticket for this employee arrived two days later on a Friday. “New desktop is overheating and shutting down just like last one. I am weeks behind on project work at this point. Please give me a laptop that won’t have this type of problem.”

I showed up right after the ticket was created. She was packing up her stuff to leave and looked put out that I even showed up so soon to deal with the issue. The desktop was on the floor next to the space heater. I asked her why she had moved it back there after killing the previous desktop, and after I had clearly explained that it caused the problem. She wasn’t having it; she said it took up too much room and she should have a laptop anyhow. This time the desktop wouldn’t even post.

I noticed the heater was on the highest possible setting and was aimed directly at the PC this time. There was something about how visibly annoyed she was that I was going to fix it, like she was ready to take an early weekend since “she couldn’t work anyway.” I explained that I would have a replacement ready within thirty minutes (more to gauge her reaction than anything) and she looked even madder.

“Is it going to be a laptop?” she demanded. “I don’t see a replacement being worth it if it’s just going to melt under my desk again.”

I agreed that under your desk is probably a bad idea. If she wanted a laptop, she would have to get her boss to approve the purchase of one. I took the dead desktop and brought back a replacement desktop — we had loads of spare used stock — within twenty minutes. She was gone. Her cube-mates said she had left for the day since IT wouldn’t have a replacement ready.

I documented everything in the ticket and called my manager.

The manager didn’t seem to care at all. He did stress that I was not to give her a laptop replacement unless her department approved and paid for it, though. I was busy enough that this pissed me off. I walked over to Human Resources and explained the situation so far to the representative. She said she would talk to the user’s manager about it. I didn’t expect much.

Sure enough, the following Monday, I had a ticket to deploy a brand-new laptop to the user. The way the cubicle desks were built, there was a space behind the tops for cable routing. This meant the majority of hot air from the heater, still under the desk, would vent right up that space, which would feed directly into the air intake on the docking stations. Since that was the case, I deployed the docking station, laptop, etc., to the right of her monitor instead of the left where it would get hit with the heat.

Once again, she complained. “It’s taking up to much room there. Can’t we put it on the other side?”

I explained that heat would kill a laptop twice as fast as the two desktops she had already killed.

After closing out the ticket, I sent an email to her and CC’d her manager, my manager, and the Human Resources lady. I explained the problems the space heater had caused and that it was the employee’s refusal to listen that had caused damage to multiple pieces of company property. I told them that I’d let her know that moving the laptop to the other side of her desk would very likely damage the brand-new laptop, it should not be done, and it would result in further delays in her ability to finish her projects.

The fourth ticket came two days later. “Laptop will not turn on. Leaving for the day, please fix or replace.” It was 10:00 am on Wednesday. She wasn’t there. The laptop was moved to the left side of the desk and the space heater was still on full blast… pointing backward.

Without touching anything, I called the facilities guy. He agreed that the heater shouldn’t have ever been returned. He also agreed that this woman could have burned down the whole d***ed building. The brand-new laptop was toast.

We took photos of everything and emailed her boss, CCing Human Resources and my manager. Apparently, her manager didn’t even know she had left for the day. She was two weeks behind on a big project and kept blaming IT for messing up her schedule with PCs that didn’t work. I pulled the drive and dumped all the data, and I was able to easily show that she hadn’t done any work for said project at all in the last month.

I never saw that employee again. Much stricter rules were put in place for space heaters after that, so at least I dealt with fewer overheating issues.

This story is part of our Best Of August 2021 roundup!

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