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What’s the most bizarre question you’ve been asked in your role as an IT professional?

Whatever your answer is, I hope it equals – or even tops – the hilarious examples given by IT workers who were polled in a survey about strange requests.

Developed by Robert Half Technology, the survey is based on phone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. Responses also came from help-desk managers.

The question: “What is the strangest or most unusual request you or a member of your help desk or technical support team has ever received?"

Some response from CIOs:

"Can I turn on the coffee pot with my computer?"
"How do I clean cat hair out of my computer fan?"
"How do I remove a sesame seed from the keyboard?"
"I dropped my phone in the toilet. What should I do?"
"How do I pirate software?"

And among help desk professionals:

"Can you help me fix my toilet?"
"We need you to fix the microwave in the lunchroom."
"Can you help me repair a washing machine?"
"How do I start the Internet?"
"Will you show me how to use the mouse?"

So, now we would like to know: What’s the strangest request you’ve gotten? Anything that beats these replies?

Posted by Camille Tuutti on Apr 11, 2012 at 9:03 AM

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Reader comments

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 Ed Northern VA

A number of years ago, I was leading a team system technicisns supporting a major Army exercise. We recieved what we thought was a routine request for assistnance to solve a system lockout. We dispatched a tech to her location. Our tech returned in record time and we congratulated him on his abilitly to solve the customers problem so quickly. He replied, yeah she was locked out of hers system. She locked the door to the office whee her system was located when she went to lunch When she came back she could not finder her to get in. So she called the help desk. Doh!

Fri, Apr 13, 2012 Washington DC

I had an experienced software developer with a Masters in Computer Science complain to me one morning that his computer was slow. He said when he entered a command the computer took ages to respond. I went to the user's office to investigate the problem and fixed it by powering on the PC.

Thu, Apr 12, 2012

I had a user complain to me that some little stovepipe application he used suddenly stopped working and it was absolutely critical to the mission. I never even heard of the app before, so I had to dig around just to find out who wrote the darned thing and what it was supposed to do. In the process of doing this, I discovered that this oh so crucial application kept a log file of every time it was launched. According to the log file it had been almost 2 years since the last time the application had been used. Checking further, I discovered that the reason the application wasn't running now was because it had been written to run under HP-UX and we had switched operating systems to Red Hat Enterprise the day after the app had last run. The user never was able to explain to me how an application that was absolutely critical to his success could be broken for almost 2 years before he noticed it.

Thu, Apr 12, 2012 OccupyIT

You should hear the questions the CIOs ask...

Thu, Apr 12, 2012

About 15 years ago, I had a manager call me about shutting down a mini-computer. As I was walking him through the steps, I asked him why he wasn't using the SOP book. He answered back that the place was on fire and he couldn't find it in the darkness and smoke. I told him to leave immediately.

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