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DEAD MAN'S SOCKS and other delightful gifts from clients

Why, I'd just love membership in your mouse-pad-knitting eco-collective

By Simon Sharwood, 21 Dec 2015

On-Call If it's Monday it must be time for … for what exactly? Why for seasonal On-Call, of course, in which we pad out the site during the pre-Christmas news drought and clear the backlog of reader contributions bring you seasonally gluttonous extra helpings of readers' tales from their odd out-of-hours encounters

Today we're revisiting November's story of the politician incapable of turning on their own PC. Plucky Reg reader John fixed that one up, but only after driving for three hours. At the end of the job, the politician in question was so chuffed she offered him free membership of her political party, which led us to ask if you've received any similarly … errr … generous gifts from clients.

Reader Roger says he was once offered “£50 cash-in-hand”! But it was on a job for which he'd “invoiced £1000”. The gift “was to clear up the mess when the son of a company's managing director screwed their system up.”

Another reader, “Wise1”, wrote to tell us he was once offered free membership of an eco-charity.

Wise1 received that offer after fixing a mouse that had been used on a knitted mouse pad.

You read that right: a knitted mouse pad.

Wise 1 was asked to said eco-charity to fix the mouse, a task that required him removing the rodent's roller ball and picking out the gunked-up wool.

“I got her a normal neoprene pad I had collected from a recent trade-show,” Wise1 recalls. “She offered me a free membership in the organization. I accepted and gave her the address of my Post Office Box.”

“But I never received any notice, nor have I heard of the charity since.”

Reader "Larry" told us that "Like many people my first job out of Univiersity was at a Helpdesk ... at a University."

One day Larry was given the job helping a Professor "who's life work was on a floppy disk that was very well used. The disk had lost much of the root directory, but the file allocation table was intact."

Larry was able to fix things up by dumping sectors of the disk with debug, and rebuilding most of the root directory by hand.

While Larry was sorting that out, some students asked for help with a modem. Larry fixed that, too, with a quick power supply replacement that miraculously helped the device to handle AT commands rather better.

The Professor came to get his disk and Larry advised him that it was time for a new floppy, should he wish his life's work to remain intact. For this impertinence, Larry earned a sour look as the Prof left without thanks.

The students, by contrast, offered a jar of home made jam on top of their heartfelt thanks.

"It was really nice jam," Larry recalls!

Our last gift was given to reader “Strange Dog”, who wrote to tell us about the time he did some work for the mayor of an American city who was also the town's top undertaker.

“At one point in my career I swapped out her six year old Pentium 166 PC for a thin client that booted in seconds and connected to a modern back end,” Strange Dog recalls. “For my good deed I made her Christmas list. The loose pair of socks that arrived in an interoffice envelope seemed like a lovely gift but we could not help wonder if they were new or 'only used once'.”

We're running On-Call every day until Christmas, so if you have a tale of a horrid client gift, or something that happened when reindeer landed on the roof and knocked out the line-of-sight comms link, send me a Santa-gram. ®

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