When the federal government department where this pilot fish used to work first got computers, they were plunked on the employees’ desks. “Everyone was told, ‘There you go — use them,’” says fish. This was essentially all the training end users got, and fish ended up being the go-to guy because of his computer hobby.
The computers were all equipped with form software, so the department was no longer required to keep a room full of forms, only toner cartridges and blank paper.
When fish came into work one afternoon, one of his co-workers grabbed him. “Help!” said the co-worker, “I am trying to print this memo, and all I am getting are blank copies of this form.” Co-worker then fanned out half a dozen copies to show fish.
Fish checked the co-worker’s computer. Nothing was open but the form application. Then he checked the print queue. It was empty. Fish clicked ‘Print’ on the completed form in the form software and together with the co-worker walked over to the printer. They watched another copy of the undesirable blank form roll out.
“I thought for a minute and it dawned on me,” says fish. “When the paper comes out of the printer, it comes out printed side down. I took his stack and turned it over. There were all the copies of the memo he was looking for!”
Later on, it turned out that the department wasn’t even able to keep track of its blank paper supply. Having run out, someone took a stack of old forms off of the shelf and put the paper in the printer as a temporary fix. “He was printing his memo on the back of a blank form,” fish laughed.
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