Tales from Field: Real (but funny) stories told by MSP Field Techs

There I was face to face with the great beast.  Even though I had plenty of experience shadowing other Field Techs deploying VoIP systems, it was still my first deployment on a client site alone.  And while you can’t prepare for everything, I knew I was in a tough spot when my eyeballs started smoking and making popping noises…

I was dispatched to Bethesda, MD visiting a 30-person publishing company.  Small office, very quiet.  I said hello to the owners of the company and retreated to the phone closet to start my task.  My objective, switch out their old PBX phone system with a new Asterisk-based telephony solution my company sold.

  The phone closest was tiny, cramped, wires crawling everywhere, and I don’t fit.  The punch down block hung flush vertically against the wall but it was awkwardly pinned between two horizontally hanging shelves, which meant I had to work as if I had no elbows, my arms out straight.  I don’t fit, neck straining to fit between the shelves so I can see what I’m doing, flashlight in my mouth and my legs are sprawling out behind me so people are stepping over to get to their offices.

Amidst my struggles, I forget to turn off the circuit breaker.  Bad move leaving power surging through the phone system with my head and torso stuck in a maze of wires.  My first splice of wire leaves a tiny piece of plastic clinging, so instead of crawling out to get the wire cutters again, I decided to strip it with my teeth.

I only have two memories after that.  First, I knew I was in trouble when my eyeballs started twitching and popping and gyrating around in my head.  Then my body went completely stiff, my legs shot out completely straight and I was kicking up and down like I was swimming the freestyle.  I remember thinking “this is not good” as I tried to scream, but only grunted then passed out.  My last thought before darkness was I might go blind…

Second, I awoke laying on my stomach with one of the owners sitting on the back of my legs!  She was very nice, calming but I don’t know why she was sitting like that, I never asked (naturally, I got the heck out of there and never returned), but I’ve since Googled “how to help victims of an electrical shock” and squatting on legs is not on the list.  But waking up drooling, my client squatting on my thighs after finding a pair of flailing legs sticking out of her phone closet, was something I could never have prepared for…and no, luckily I didn’t go blind.