The (un)luck of the Irish

I have been in the telecommunications business for almost thirty years now, but I still smile when I think back to the late eighties and one particular support event for a high tech firm.

I received a call from an implementation supervisor working an important account at about 4:00 a.m one day. He was in the middle of a system outage and could not get into the system – he had forgotten the password – or so he assumed. Now I have to admit, although he was very intelligent, and good at his job, he did have a rather broad Irish accent. This in itself is not a fault, however, his spelling sort of matched the way he spoke. In this instance, I knew the password because he and I had worked on the initial implementation together, and for security purposes, he made sure I had knowledge of the password so I could also respond in an emergency if he was otherwise unavailable.

Being big sports fans, the password we agreed upon was “Baseball”. He input the password, and confirmed it on the machine. He then told me what it was and we left the system for a few months until his early morning call. That morning, after confirming that we both agreed as to the password, I went to the site to see if we could troubleshoot the problem together. I had some tools available as the manufacturers representative that could not be given out over the telephone so my only choices were remote login (not available at that time) or on-site support.

After arriving, I proceeded through the “backdoor”, only to discover that the password was still “baseball”, but spelled in the dialect I had come to know so well – it translated into “beseball”, just the way he pronounced it. Two hours of driving for two minutes of troubleshooting and a very expensive spelling lesson. He is still a good friend but we don’t discuss sports anymore without smiling and hoisting one or two beverages to the Irish national sport of Beseball.

Paul Robinson, Ont.

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