"It's Not My Job to Plug Things In," and Other Nightmare IT Stories

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We asked for the worst stories you had about working in IT. You rose to the challenge and then some. We may need to wipe and reboot our brains to recover from these.

People are strange

Ari Harrison:

I told a woman that she needed to plug in her monitor to the wall as the cleaning people had accidentally pulled it out. She told me that "it is not in her job description to plug things in." I had to get a maintenance person to drive over 40 miles to plug the damn thing into a wall outlet.



Man came in. He was seriously pissed but also seemed a bit drunk. Can't verify the veracity of inebriation but it appeared that way to me.

He plopped his G4 tower on the counter, complete with keyboard, and proceed to yell that he couldn't boot the thing and access his porn. Checked the machine in and he left.

My co-worker and I left the keyboard on the counter.

We booted his machine and were immediately met with some of the hardest hardcore porn ever. The dudes computer was filled with it. Desktop picture was something that was only possible during a porn shoot.

We quickly shut the monitor off because we had windows into our tech area so that customers could see what we were doing (they got the idea from Subway).

I marked the machine as an after hours fix.

About an hour later the manager grabbed the keyboard and started asking why we had left it here. We laughed our asses off and told him it's because he was too cheap to buy us latex gloves to touch that thing. He didn't quite get it until we told him which keyboard the customer belonged to. He promptly dropped it and washed his hands for fifteen minutes.

Reason he couldn't access anything? The keyboard wouldn't work anymore. Too much "liquid" had been spilled on it.



there was a time I used garden blower to blow out this ladies computer. It was so full of dirt that when the blower (I think they are around 70mph) hit it, it was like an explosion of dust! I wish I had recorded it because I almost fell over with laughter how the thing just went poof! in a gigantic burst of dust and dog hair. I made the mistake of telling the lady and she was horrified and embarrassed. I just thought it was funny.



I worked in IT for a Federal Government office for about 2.5 years while in college. One woman called, complaining that her mouse stopped working. Rather odd that an optical mouse would fail in under several years. So I went to check it out.

She was, apparently, a rabid muffin fanatic and managed to cake enough pastry under the mouse buttons and in the scroll wheel to render the unit useless.


Annie's Boobs:

I used to work for a bank, and every once in a while we'd get called out to one of our branches to replace a server/router part. If there was time at the end of the job, I'd usually go out and give the ATM machine a wipe down just as a courtesy to the branch manager. On a call like the ones I've just described, I walk outside with my dust rag and spray bottle ready to tackle this ATM, when I notice that there's something on the display. And the quick select buttons. And the keypad. And filling the card slot.

Some disturbed individual mistook this ATM for a toilet and shat all over it. What the hell kind of person does this?? That was the last time I showed initiative with regards to ATM cleanliness. It was also the day our bank started outsourcing a company to clean each of our ATMs on a weekly basis.



Mom: My daughters phone stopped working

*starts handing over a 3 year old burn phone*

Me: Okay.. any idea what happened? *I'm holding the phone at this point*

Mom: Nothing happened, it just stopped working

*I go through the process of taking the battery out (which is WET) and that's when I see the water sensor is triggered*

Me: It looks like there was water damage

*Mom looks at her daughter*

Daughter: It fell into the toilet while I was going this morning! My mom told me to dry it and bring it here

*I drop the phone immediately*

Me: I need you to take this and leave, there's nothing we can do to help you with this. Your warranties void, it was in a toilet.

I tell my manager what's going on and walk away.. I think I spent about 30-45 minutes trying to wash my hands clean.



I have an academic version of this: I worked in a large university IT department. A very highly placed executive (not gonna identify him further than that) kept calling us up and angrily demanding that a tech be dispatched to look at his expensive (official use) phone, which was "useless." If it had been anybody else, we would have told them to bring it to our front desk, but for this guy, I dispatched. For phone after phone. They kept breaking.

Yeah, he was throwing them on the floor of his office when he got frustrated with them.



I have the winner. I used to work for Cox Communications in their internet dept. I used to work until midnight, and after 9 pm, the crazy calls would start to roll in. For example, I'd get people whose internet was shut off because they didn't pay their bill:

"Dude! I'm working on my term paper! I need to get this finished or I'll flunk my class!"

(I pray that class isn't in accounting or bookkeeping, because you'd fail for not paying your bill in 3 months)

The best one, however, came one night around 10 pm. This guy calls me up and says, "Hi! I need help connecting my computer up wirelessly."

"Ok, sure thing. What operating system are you running on your computer?" (This is due to the fact that we only supported certain versions of Windows and Mac OS; we didn't have any Linux machines, Android devices, etc. at the time that we could reference)


"Sorry, did you say Netware? Like, Novell Netware?"

"No, Wetware. I have a computer in my head; I'm a cyborg."

The guy said it with such absolute conviction and certainty that I didn't laugh - I just got a little creeped out, and in my head started to panic a little. All of our calls were recorded, and there was a good chance my manager could be listening to this call to grade me on how I handled it (and they were looking for excuses to get rid of people for ANY little thing).

I just paused, took a deep breath, and said, "Well, sir, I'm sorry, but unless that computer has Windows or Mac OS on it, I can't provide support for it. You might want to go back to the people who installed it, since it sounds like a custom OS; they might be able to help you get it connected wirelessly."

"Oh! I didn't even think of that! Yeah, I'll do that - they should be able to help me get it connected!"


Really? REALLY?


My SIL asked me to diagnose a problem with her Macbook. She forgot to warn me that her Macbook was filled with photos of her in a three-way with two guys in a hotel room. She looked like she was genuinely having the time of her life in those pictures, so I was simultaneously shocked and proud of her for it.



I once witnessed a co-worker use Bing to find Google to do a search. She was on the Support team.



I had to fix a friend's desktop, an ancient eMachines machine he got back when we were in high school (so some time between 1999 and 2003). It basically would perform slowly and sound like a jet engine in his room. Roughly around 2009 was when I started getting into messing with computers and stuff, so one day I'm there and I mention we should check out his desktop and see what's up with it. First thing I do is say let's clean the inside. I open it up and layers upon layers of dust. I mean piles of dust inside it. I clean it out and notice something near one of the fans that I assume he'd disconnected to not work. Well, since the computer had been acting up and being the baby and only boy of the family (he had three older sisters) his parents spoiled him rotten, so they just bought him a much newer machine before that one just kinda sat on his floor. Apparently it was used for "contraband" storage. We found some weed, some coke, a few razors, a straw, and a nice "portable" mirror. I started laughing when we found all that. "Dude! I totally forgot I used to stash shit in here!" That was his exact response. It was hilarious and sad at the same time.


Let's help 'em out

"Hello, how may I help you"

"Yeah, my cup holder is broken!"

"....ah, I'm sorry, did you say your cupholder is broken?"


"Your computer has a cupholder?"

"Yeah - I push the button, and it pops out. It's not very sturdy though!"




One day one of my coworkers thought he hit the jackpot and he called me and my boss in to look. First pic: my gf with her vag spread wiiiide. Second pic: my gf sucking another guy's dick. Third pic: POV shot of me balls deep in my gf giving her thumbs up. It turned out the customer was my gf's side guy and she had porn she made with both of us on her comp. Needless to say that was the end of that.



Another patron was rumored to be a meth cook and would on a quarterly basis come in 15 minutes before we closed and buy close to half of all the merchandise in the store. His credit cards always worked so we just put up with his insane twitching and ranting. We were a non-profit after all. On more than one occasion he called the store to say his car had broken down and asked us to come pick him up. Of all the things he bought, he only ever brought one thing back. It was a tower that didn't turn on any more. I take it in back to inspect. The condom caper had taught me to be cautious so I was wearing latex gloves when I opened it. No exaggeration, the entire open cavity inside that tower was filled with Hair. I gave him a store credit, put it in a garbage bag, and wondered why I didn't just join the goddamn navy like my parents wanted me to.


Do you even computer, bro?


i act as tech support for a university's saas and in-house systems.

there are a few people of varying ages between 40-80 who send me hand-written requests via inter-office mail. on notebook paper. as in, 'hi, can you help me reset my password?' they are perfectly willing to wait the full day (sometimes more if i'm out of office) just to avoid the 'hassle' of using modern tech.



I was inventorying computers for a University I work at after hours. I had keys/badge access to anything and everything and I was supposed to go everywhere to find computers.

Go into an office, old VIP lady comes in and told people that I was hacking her computer (The computer was not on.) Fun meeting the next day.



a chancellor of university I was working with called and wanted to show off his new website to me. He said he'd email me the site. Three days later I received an email with a PDF attached. He had printed out the homepage on paper, scanned it, and emailed the scan as a PDF to me with an apology for sending it so late. He was really proud of how he had figured out to send it and didn't want to burst his bubble.



I got an email from another teacher who complained her MacBook wasn't charging. Turns out she thought that the MagSafe connector was a FLAW and she doused the connector and port with superglue to "fix" it. That's the most boneheaded thing I've seen from staff. From students it is a whole 'nother story.



We once had a Network administrator that complained that our DNS servers were down since he could not ping an IP number. The double facepalm followed shortly after that comment.


Jean La Fitte the Second:

I got a call from my manager because she was unable to save a PDF document to her computer. I figured it must be one of those forms that Adobe Reader won't save after filling it out. I was wrong. It was a basic document she had scanned.

I went to her desk and the document was open. See, when you scanned a document the file was sent to your email. Sure, she could have dragged and dropped it to her desktop, but for some reason that didn't occur to her. Since she had the document open already, I told her to hit the "save" icon and then save it to her desktop.


She said, "No, I don't want to save it to a floppy disc. I want to save it to my desktop." I explained to her that clicking on the floppy disc icon would give her the option to save it to her desktop. She continued to argue with me about the significance of the floppy disc icon! I kept telling her to trust me and to click it. She refused. She insisted that I was not understanding what she was trying to do. I kept telling her to click on the damn icon. I offered to click the icon for her. NOPE. She insisted to let her do it (or else she wouldn't learn). She was getting upset with me and raised her voice, insisting that I was wrong.

Finally she lifted her hand off the mouse for a brief moment and I grabbed the mouse and clicked the floppy disc icon. Sure enough, a window popped open asking her to save her document to the desktop.

Her reply was, "Oh."


Part of my job includes training nurses to use computer software. Some of these nurses have never used a computer before.

At one point, I told the nurse to click. She clicked. I then said to right-click, she right clicked. Then I said to click, and clarified to left-click. She reaches over with her left hand to click the mouse.



One fine morning a lady from Alabama called in about her internet not working. I was asking her to run through the normal steps of asking which lights were blinking and whatnot on the modem when suddenly I hear a bloooop sound. She said "Oops! I dropped the modem in the bucket of water. What do I do now?". I had to ask, "What bucket of water?". The reply "Oh we always keep a bucket of water next to the computer equipment in case it sets on fire." This is what the mute button was invented for. After laughing for about a solid minute I came back on the line and asked if we would need to put in for a modem replacement for her. She proceeded to reach in the bucket with the modem apparently still plugged in to both the phone line (DSL) and the power. I heard a swift BZZZZZZT sound a couple of times, a short bang, then the line went dead.

I was honestly afraid the modem might have exploded or something for a good half hour or so. About 1/2 an hour later I had kept the notes page open and she had called back from another line... she was shocked (literally) that she was going to need her equipment replaced.



I also had a customer once that changed websites by going into settings and changing the default home page every time. They understood what an URL was. However, they did not understand how to type it into the URL bar and just did it in settings instead. They had no interest in learning the right way either.


The customer is never right


I used to do tech support for a Quick Service Restaurant, an operation that ran 24 hours for most, and required overnight support, which I part of (since the small group, I served as a 1st level tech, 2nd level tech, pseudo-manager, call monitor, etc.)

This guy calls up, and all he says is "My registers aren't working". So I go through the basics, ask if he's getting an error message "My registers aren't working" is all he responds. "Ok!" I think, and go about trying to get in remotely. I ping out to the server in the store - no response. I try to connect - no response. So now I know something might be going on with the server.

I tell him this, and ask if he knows where the server is "Yes", that's it - just "yes". "Ok, can we go to the server?" "You want me to go to the server?" "Yes, we need to go to the server, to check a few things out" "But its in the basement" "Ok, great!" "But, its in the basement" "Yep, that's good, we need to go down into the basement to check out the server".

10 minutes later, I finally convince him to get down to the basement. I than begin to explain to him what the server looks like, where it might be located, etc, all he says is "Ok".

I wait, I figure he's trying to find it, maybe 2-3 minutes later I say "Did you find the server?" dude freaks out, "HELLO?! Who is this?!", this is the same exact guy, the same guy I've been on the phone with 25 minutes. I explain to him "This is <name>, I'm with your service desk - did you find the server?" he replies back "It's in the basement".

30 minutes later, he still hasn't found the server, I'm not even sure if he's in the basement, the registers are still down, and there's just silence on the other end of the line. After 5 minutes of dead air and continuously saying "Hello?" I had to disconnect.


Moonshadow Kati aka Lady Locksmith:

Worst Customer Runner Up: A man called in about 15 minutes before I was supposed to leave. He was having a legitimate issue, and it was quite frustrating for both of us because our remote software is crappy and we have too little bandwidth to properly support it, so I was having real issues staying connected. However, he would switch back and forth between a normal (if slightly frustrated) tone while being agreeable to ear-rendingly-loud whining like "UGH THIS IS SO STUPID! I WANT TO GO HOME! RRRAAGH!" **every other sentence**. No exaggeration. I had to turn my phone down. In the end, we both ended up staying 20 minutes past our end time simply because he wouldn't stop whining long enough to let me troubleshoot and doubled the amount of time it should have taken.



Back when I worked at BestBuy's Geek Squad (Counter Intelligence Agent) this contractor dude came in on his lunch break with his personal gaming rig, some Dell tower with all the bells and whistles of the time. He said that after he soundproofed it (wut?) it worked for three hours and then quit on him. According to him it would try to post, beep a few times, and then conk out. So I popped 'er open to find that his "soundproofing" solution was to fill the damn chassis with expansion foam. The poor PC cooked itself with its own heat. Not even a Dell deserved that fate.


Maybe I should stop smoking


had a lady I worked with need help with her computer. The computer would over-heat and blue screen, shut down,, and then wouldn't start correctly without BSing. I told her, out of the kindness of heart, I would come and see what the issue might be (thinking regreasing the CPU and bolting it back down). When I looked into the case of the computer, it was completed covered in some thick, sticky, goo. As it turns out, she was a chain smoker, and the ash-tray sat in front of the PC. The intake fans brought in all the smoke and caked everything in tar. I told her it was time for a new computer, and I would take the other off her hands and use for spare parts, for I'd pay her $100. I actually took the PC home, carefully swapped everything with swabs and alcohol,, then sold the PC online for 300. A nightmare turned happy



Oh god yes, the PCs from smokers' houses. When I got out of highschool circa 2001 I did the back room gig at a computer store. I could handle dust bunnies that could fill a shoebox, but when the dust bunnies were oozing tar, that was just gross.

The first week at that job I got the straight-faced "I broke my cupholder" that I had previously read about on the internet. Of course it was an IBM with a non-standard bezel/faceplate so you couldn't just swap in a generic 48x CD-ROM. I did manage to find a similar drive amongst our piles and swap all the IBM custom plastic bits over.



I'd also love to give a nod to smoker's computers. If you think dust bunnies are yuck you should see the inside of a computer after the nicotine has built up for a couple years. Pretty much everything is covered in what looks like brown, sticky hair. Smells like an ashtray.


"Wild Kingdom manifestations"

(credit to commenter orcim for the heading)


Another time I had to work on what I assume was just as old a machine around five years ago for a female friend of mine. I mean it was so old it didn't have an Ethernet port. So I figured I'd just install one like I did on my old family PC back in the day. She ran me over to Walmart to pick up what I needed and when we got back to her house she let me get to it. I sit her computer down on the floor and just sit down and get to it, let the record show I love sitting on the floor the way I did as a kid while doing whatever, and I open it up. All I got was the side off before I saw what I clearly recognized as the molted skin of a snake at the bottom. I screamed and ran away from the desktop. I am scared of two things: spiders and snakes. I nope'd the fuck out of there and after explaining how I refused to work on a machine that had at one point clearly had a snake living in it (I refused to check if it was gone or still in there) and she just told her mom it was too old and they bought a new one.



Puh Lease!, 2 or 3 cockroaches, that's not even worth a story.

Several years back when I was but a youngster, I used to supplement my income by doing side jobs fixing and upgrading peoples computers. There was this lady I met sort of as an acquaintance of an acquaintance type thing. She said her computer wasn't working very well and neither was her scanner. She was wondering if I could take a look at it.

I got her address on an a bright Sat. morning I drove to the address, which turned out to be a very low income area which was known for prostitution and drugs. I found the address, a small paint peeled house and was met by a young guy with bright red hair and a big smile. I went into the home and was immediately taken aback by the piles of dirty laundry and trash in what appeared to be every room. The computer was in the kitchen area in a corner. I immediately noticed the food encrusted dirty dishes piled high and the floor was a weird shade of brown. I also noticed movement on the walls and then floor. It was roaching that were literally crawling around all over everything in broad daylight.

My instinct was to just run but my twisted sense of responsibility made me stay. I mean the lady was just as nice and polite as you could imagine. Her son was just as cordial and so was her daughter. There were even to small filthy little children sitting next to a mangy dog on the floor. The whole family was a sweet as could be and completely oblivious to the absolutely disgusting and deplorable state of their home and lives.

I made a quick analysis and troubleshooting holding my feet of the floor afraid roaches would crawl up my leg and told the lady I had to take her computer to my shop to get a better idea of what was the problem. I fortunately had trash bags in my car (a Porsche 928S) and put her computer in a bag, tied it tight and took it home.

When I got home I grabbed a can of RAID for roaches and dumped half a can in the bag and left it outside in the hot sun for several hours. After about 3 hours I figured whatever was in there should be dead. Even after 3 hours I still had to stomp on a couple of roaches that somehow survived. I proceeded to take the computer apart outside. I took the entire thing apart and the reason it was failing was the power supply was filled with cockroach feces and the floppy drive was stuffed with roaches that had been caught and squashed from the movement of the drive. I took the PS apart as well as the floppy drive.

I cleaned it all out and tested and surprisingly once free of roach crap and roach carcasses, it worked fine. I took it back and told them it should be working fine now and that it was just full or roaches. I figured it wouldn't be long before it was messed up again and I promised myself not to ever go see them again. So there to your 3 little roaches.



Got a call from the Engineering guys about a "Mouse problem"

When I looked up the location, I found it was the dread "Lab under the stairs." These guys were complete uber-geeks, who took IBM 3270 chassis and turned them into Cray 1's.

So, over and down I went.

"You guys got a mouse problem."

"Yep, dead mouse". He pointed to a 3270.

Checked. No mouse attached. Got real suspicious and removed the case.

Sure enough, There was the dead mouse. As was very common with PC's, some of the slot covers were missing. The mouse got in, and couldn't get out. Another casualty of the computer revolution


Garrett Davis:

I was working IT for a medium sized (130+ locations) restaurant company and we were traveling to various locations to install all new computers and POS systems. I was in one of the LA locations, running cat 5 through the hung grid ceiling. I'm standing on a rather shoddy step ladder and I push up one of the ceiling tiles to have a sticky critter trap fall inches in front of my face, suspended by a cable that was stuck to it. What was caught in this trap, you ask?

A half decomposed rat with yellow maggots pouring out of the giant hole in the rib cage and fly larva wiggling from its mouth and eyes. Yeah, it had been there a while.

I sort of stumbled back, my ladder falling to the side and I manage to not fall on my ass as I land and back away. The look on my face must have been priceless. The manager walks in after hearing the racket and drops her tablet, screaming. Ouch, those iPads aren't cheap.



Roaches in a Laser Printer from a high end Vancouver restaurant. Work Order was closed with "Printer Debugged". Shipment of fax machines from California, most of them did not work so the company that was reselling them, sent them to us for warranty repair. Issues? They were all filled with roaches. Fire one up, smashed roaches in all the gears. Another time, a starving college student brought her old Apple IIe in. She had stored it in her mothers attic and really needed to do some WP. Opened it up to find 3 mummified mice. I couldn't charge her for the work/cleaning. A nest of spiders in a touch screen bingo machine. (They hatched while sitting on the incoming shelf) Cat pee in a keyboard. Human poop in a Performas' CD drive (Damned kids) Blood soaked 3400ce laptop (Request by police to recover data) oh the list goes on..... :) A workmate last year found a classrooms missing Hamster while trouble shooting a Smart Board. Hamster 1, cables, 0.



My girlfriend at the time called to ask if it was normal to have ants nesting in her flatbed scanner. "No" I said and went to check it out. Due to the rainy weather, they'd found their way in along the wiring, through the power outlet, along the power cord, right into her scanner. Queen, eggs and all. What a mess! But turns out, they will clear out completely if you take it outside on a hot day and leave it in the sun. They pick up their mess, eggs and all, and clear out.



One word: Spiders.

I used to run a small mom & pop computer store with a service department. Once we had someone come in with an older computer that was shutting down randomly. Of course, we figured it was a heat issue and boy were we right... Our tech opened up the side panel on the counter to take a peek inside expecting to see dust and such, but much to his surprise a WHOLE NEST OF SPIDERS came skittering out and took off in every direction. All over our counters, floors, equipment. It was a nightmare. The computer itself was so full of webbing that the thing could barely run. We and the customer agreed at that point to literally throw the thing out the back door. We chucked it out in the dumpster and locked the door. I had to call in an exterminator after that... Still gives me the heeby jeebies.


Sweet revenge

Hahaha good comment:

Not a nightmare story, actually the opposite!

We had a user, who was known to be a "know it all", one of those guys who thinks they are a genius because one day they stumbled across Google. Anyway, this guy would routinely tell us how we are using the wrong servers/hardware/software because he read somewhere bla bla bla.

He was a pain in the A for everyone at work.

Anyway, to mess with this guy we employed the good ol' connect a wireless keyboard and mouse to his computer scheme. Now this worked excellent because the user had his computer on the floor tucked away in the corner under his desk, so he never saw the small wireless dongle sitting in the back of his computer. Anyway whenever he would make his "know it all" remarks, for the rest of the day we would move his mouse and write words randomly. Oh boy was that fun! He even came to us many times saying his mouse and keyboard are broken because it is moving/typing on its own. Every time he came to us, we would go to his computer, "take a look" and deem everything working as intended. This guy would get his panties all in a bunch. He even asked us to sit and watch him for half a day to see it happen - which it didn't, obviously. I believe he went as far as bringing in his own keyboard and mouse to prove the current equipment was broken, but that didn't work too good for him as that day we really screwed with him.

Just remember all you office workers, IT can make your life hell too. Treat your IT guy good, and he will do the same to you. Oh, and Karma!


We thought we'd end this on a happier note and with a call for you to tell us your finest stories of IT (or general internet-based) pranks and revenge. For our next installment we'll be featuring the heights of your hilarity and possible propensity towards evil. Don't hold back.

Whisper in my ear and tell me all your secrets: tellgiz@gizmodo.com

Image via commenter Travisimo