Tech repair is generally a safe, clean profession in which the worst that someone will encounter is a keystroke logger or particularly voracious virus.
But, every now and again, things take a turn for the worse. These IT technicians shared their darkest moment and be warned, not every story here is easy to digest.
(Content edited for clarity.)
Well, His Method DID Work
“I have a buddy who works IT. One of the best stories he has ever shared was about a person who didn’t know there was an eject button for floppy disks and ended up pouring liquid butter into the disk drive so that he could lubricate it enough to rip it out with a pair of pliers. As the guy was explaining all this, my friend snatched the floppy from his hand and popped it into the drive. The guy immediately started freaking out since it took him like two hours to pry the thing out. My friend just hit the eject button and stood there holding the floppy disk right in front of his face as the guy looked back and forth between the disk and the computer like ‘…Are you freaking serious?'”
So Bad They Needed To Scrub Afterward
“I used to work in a chain of shops in the UK that bought and resold games and technology. We’d normally get one or two guys a week who would come in to sell their phones and ask that we double and triple check that all the photos had been deleted. We’d test the phones before we’d buy them, and it was normally a half hour wait.
In one instance, I had a guy ask me at the counter to personally check that all his pictures were deleted. I assured him they would be and he then asked me if my supervisor would check too. This was in my second week, so I agreed, got the necessary paperwork sorted, and then took the phone to our tester.
It’s probably best that when you go into a tech shop, where most of the staff are under 25, that you try and play down your nerves of whatever you have in your camera roll. I took the phone to my tester with all the passwords and told him the story. I told him he had half an hour to test the phone and left him to it.
I had just finished serving my next customer when the tester tapped me on the shoulder and ushered me over to his workstation. He handed me the phone and instructed me to look at the camera roll. I’m not one to be phased by indecent images, but this was something.
The customer had compiled an entire album of himself, naked, and with a clear moment of arousal visible in every picture. In all 900 pictures, he was lubricated to the max so the erogenous glow was viewable from outer space. There were pictures of himself in various BDSM costumes, dangling things out of his butt, and an assortment of items clipped to his balls. I’ve tried to put it out my mind, but there were some images worse than that – I’m talking fecal matter paintings.
Half an hour later, the man returned to the shop where I assured him that the pictures had been deleted and showed him the wiped phone. He was grateful and thanked us. He shook our hands and left, and my supervisor and I quickly went upstairs and thoroughly scrubbed our hands with an awful lot of soap.”
That Poor Kids Homelife
“I work for a school where each student is provided a laptop. We have a fairly diverse student population, so while one kid might drive a Mercedes to school, another might have missed the past week because the option was him and his siblings eat, or he pays for a new uniform so one of the assistant principals doesn’t give the kid escalating punishments every tie the kid is seen out of uniform.
Anyways, one kid brings a laptop to the desk that’s running poorly. I open up the bottom when like a party favor from Hell, bedbugs come flying out. Bedbugs everywhere. I reach for the nearest heavy object, which just so happens to be a screwdriver, and begin playing whack-a-bug with the screwdriver. I think I get all of the ones that came out of the laptop, but there’s still quite a few on the inside. I douse the thing in an unholy combination of Goo-Be-Gone and Windex to the point where it’s no longer a viable option for student use. All the while, the student is staring at me with this blank expression, like she fully freaking expected this to happen. I calmly-ish drop it directly into an empty trash bag and tell her to come back at lunch for her new laptop.
I called my wife on the way home and had me meet outside with a trash bag. Stripped to my boxers on the front porch, my wife threw everything into a hot wash load. The neighbor saw the whole thing, all I could muster was a sad wave. I think she understood.
In the end, the laptop was just thrown away. The girl who brought the laptop up has a younger sister, who every few weeks gets sent to the office due to being covered in bedbugs.
A Valuable Lesson Was Learned That Day
“I do IT support for a school and had a teacher call me one day as 17 of the laptops the students use all stopped working at the same time. The teacher claimed that we must have rolled out an update that had broken all the machines and so was irate that we fix what we did NOW as she couldn’t teach without them.
Only when I got ahold of the laptops did I learn the teacher had all the students working outside on a rainy day studying the weather. I still have no idea why she, or ANY of the students thought that as a good idea.”
People’s True Self Appears Online
“I’ve found a number of strange things…
- Thousands of photographs of creepy dolls. Like, tens of thousands, and of different creepy dolls;
- Hundreds of tiny postage-stamp sized pictures of women’s toes (assuming female toes; they all had scarlet-red toenail polish.) All the pictures appeared to be consensual as in they were posed, but obviously amateur;
- Enough bookmarks to white supremacy and anti-Semitic sites to choke a Clydesdale;
- Several hundred GB (back when disk space wasn’t cheap at all) of gay smut. It’s bizarre only because the person that owned the PC was loudly, virulently anti-gay. Obviously, later, I realized he was one of those self-hating types — he later did come out, but when I found the files it was a serious WOAH moment, especially since it was on a work PC.”
It’s Probably Best Not To Yell At The People Who Can See What’s On Your Computer
“We once had a couple that came in. They were SO rude to us and completely whiny that their repair might take up to three days (we were a busy repair shop). The husband was the worst. He screamed at us that he ran a business and yadda yadda yadda.
Anyway, we end up having to restore their computer because it’s just riddled with infections and we want it up and running as quick as possible. They have 2 locked user accounts. Wife has maybe 500mb of pictures and documents, mostly business related. Her husband? 320gigs in a secret folder named affectionately ‘gay smut.’
In the interest of time, when we set up their restored windows we set up just 1 user account: Admin. And dumped everything on the desktop.”
This Guy Had An Interesting Habit
“This was back in the late ’90s and the dude had a folder marked ‘Jerks, Pricks, and Wankers.’ I had some free time and investigated. He literally kept files on every piece of celebrity misconduct he unearthed. Thanks to him, I learned John Lennon beat his wife way ahead of everyone else.”
So Many Tales, So Little Time
“I have a fun history of working at mom n’ pop shops, then on to Circuit City before moving on to business computer support.
The first job was a Best Buy that had just opened. I a had a guy drop off a computer where the background was of his wife in a silk nightie. He and his wife were puttering around the store waiting for the repair. The tech bench was at the back, and you could see what we were working on, and so she decided to sneak peek and see how things were going. She saw the picture and quietly made her way back over to the husband and started hitting him.
I moved on to a mom n’ pop shop who paid me under the table. It was an awful place. This was back when Windows XP was coming out, and the owner had me putting Windows 98SE on systems using keys from a photocopied list of keys. I wasn’t proud of it, but I needed a job. I had one guy drop off a computer where, when I popped the lid off, hundreds of little baby roaches started crawling around and making a run for it. In a panic, I started putting the lid back on it, but the owner just said, ‘Oh’ and smacked them with his hand. The owner made me take it in, put it in a black trash bag, spray the inside of the bag with insecticide, and place the bag outside in the heat to kill the bugs. The computer still worked when we were done, but it was gross. We had so many computers with roaches.
Another job had someone buying recycled ink cartridges and came in with printed copies of gay men banging each other complaining about the quality of the product compared to actual ink cartridges.
While at Circuit City, we had one guy drop of an HP Media Center PC with the bay for an external hard drive to be slid in. I walked past it and my shirt snagged the door to the drive bay. The kid was hiding pot in there. My boss called the house to have them come and retrieve the computer. The kid’s dad picked it up and my boss explained what we found.
The kid came by to pick it up first, but we sat on it while we waited for the dad. The kid thought it off and went about his business, then came back in a bit of a panic and asked to see the computer. We declined, given instructions from the dad. The kid went pale and started to panic. The dad showed up and asked us to show him, so we grabbed the computer and flipped open the door while the kid is next to him. The dad grabbed the computer and stomped out of there upset with the kid in tow.
We used to do VHS to DVD transfers. This guy brought in a tape for us to transfer to DVD, so we put the tape in the recorder and started the transfer. We generally turned the TV off for privacy while it went in, and turned it on from time to time to check on progress. We turned the TV on and saw it was a medical procedure. It was a camera going through what looked like an esophagus. Everything wrapped up and I started to play back the DVD to make sure it completed properly. I pulled the tape out and saw it is labeled ‘Elephant Colonoscopy’.”
There Are Some Things That You Don’t Bring To Work
“I used to work at a company that required a security clearance.
We were doing data migrations, and a guy asked us to save two personal folders from his old company-issued laptop to a newer computer.
My supervisor agreed and proceeded to do so. When doing so, we were able to see some of the names of the files in which my supervisor cautioned the embarrassed employee that it was not a good idea to download such adult files onto a company computer.
My supervisor and the rest of the IT team went back to see what the files entailed, and it was pretty bad. Not just normal smut, but ones that involved animals.
The supervisor went to report the content to the employee’s boss.
The employee had to resign after moving to take the job a few months earlier. He had moved there with his wife, and I wondered what he was going to tell her.
The sad thing is, his old computer would have been scrubbed and nothing would have been found. He got caught because he wanted to save these images.”
No Matter How Much You Respect People’s Privacy, Something Slips Through
“One lady brought in her son’s desktop to get fixed. Her son passed away, and I guess she was going to use it or sell it. Either way, it had a naked woman for a desktop background when I was able to get it to boot up. I changed it to a default background. I mean there’s a chance she would want to see it exactly as he left it, but I think it was a good call to change it.
One lady had a MacBook with a slideshow background. When I gave her computer back to her, it was on a picture of her young daughter naked in one of those typical kids not caring about being in the buff pictures. There was also a few other pictures of her and a famous comedian that passed away in the last decade. I kind of mentioned that I saw some pictures scrolling through the background. I guess she knew what I was getting at, and she said, ‘Oh, you mean my father?’ And I said no I meant the picture of… Then it dawned on me, and I was like, ‘Wait, Bernie Mac is your father?’ I think I said something about how I thought he was awesome, and I was sorry for her loss. She was nice; one of the best customers we had there.
I used to see all kinds of stuff on the smartphones I fixed. One dude had over 11,000 pictures. Like 50% family pics; 50% him blowing loads on different chick’s faces.”
The Unhappiest Of Finds
“It was a weird chain of events, but I got involved in regaining access to a notebook PC that had belonged to the husband of the daughter of a friend of my boss who had recently committed suicide. The computer was his work PC, and the deceased person’s boss or business partner was looking for something that had been stored on it, but they were vague about what they actually were looking for.
The drive wasn’t encrypted, so it was easy to get in.
What was weird is that normally, people have stuff all over their desktop. This PC didn’t look like it had been used much at all, so I suspected that the account and user profile the deceased had actually been using had been deleted.
What I did find was child smut, in the pictures folder, not hidden at all. The thumbnails were set to x-large, so there wasn’t much mistaking what I was seeing, even without opening individual files. I reported the find to the police and had to show an officer what I found. When I informed the mother-in-law about the finding and police report, she seemed surprisingly unphased, like she was expecting us to find the images. My coworkers and I came to the conclusion that the deceased killed himself because his inappropriate habits had been discovered or strongly suspected and that mother-in-law wanted this evidence discovered after he killed himself.”
“We Watched In Curious Horror”
“One was a job in 2001 where I was hired to catch a guy watching adult videos on a Windows 98 system. Many times, his computer had been infected by viruses, but they never found any reason why.
The guy was into making things as hard as possible to use his computer: a DVORAK keyboard, trackball instead of a mouse, and weird fonts. He was this gross guy working in a filthy office. His desktop tower was on the floor, buried under discarded Frito bags.
I showed up on site, pretending to be a phone tech. While ‘tracing wires’ I unplugged his computer power. He flipped out, but the boss asked him to step into her office. I booted up a Linux live CD and scanned the drive.
I found a lot of smut in his web cache as well as his stash hidden under nested folders.
He was into old-timey animated stuff, like Betty Boop getting violated by King Neptune and his octopus body of many male organs or Mikey Mouse sucking off Donald Duck. He also liked grindhouse stuff where celebrities heads were badly photoshopped onto 1970s stag reel shots.
He was fired on the spot.
The other was not a repair per se, but I was doing software quality assurance for a large company. They were testing new software that would scan for all image files in a directory, and make thumbnails you could browse and tag in an intuitive interface. I had to test this on a Mac, but the Mac version was behind the Windows version because the company didn’t care that much about Mac software. It took a while to get a Mac in the office, so when I finally got one I was told it had been wiped and had a fresh OS on it, but that turned out to be a lie.
When the software was running, it pulled hundreds of images from the former employee’s storage, which some questionable images.
The majority were teen boys wearing fishnets, teen boys wearing heels, lots of feet in stockings, fishnets, and heels, and ‘crushing’ images of bare feet or heels crushing cans, plastic cups, insects, and a variety of foodstuffs with more than half being baked beans.
My boss was sitting next to me as we watched in curious horror as the thumbnails of all these images started indexing. When it was done, the images comprised half of the hard drive space, which was 2GB, a massive amount of space at the time.”
You Won’t Believe What People Put In The Register
For a while, I repaired touch-screen cash registers. We did not go through the files, we just wiped every hard drive without looking, but occasionally you would find some interesting things inside the machine.
Here are some of my favorites:
- A live tree frog. He looked thirsty, so I gave him some water and took him outside.
- An entire Doritos chip sitting on the motherboard. It looked like it was nacho cheese flavor.
- Nothing. Someone had taken the everything out of it, and it was just a hollow plastic case with a card scanner and LCD screen.
- Every wire was cleanly cut. I have no idea why.
- A handwritten apology. There was a large pile of dead roaches behind the motherboard. Never found any live ones, but doused my workspace in Lysol anyway.
- One had been hit with a hammer or something. It had punched straight through the screen and motherboard, but the ram was salvageable. Apparently, it was an angry customer who did it.”
They Keep Things Quiet, Sometimes
“I was working as a tech for a bank about 16 or 17 years ago. At some point, we were upgrading all the desktops in a department. I would install the OS and configure all the software they needed on the new machine, then copy all the local files from the old machine to the new one. Usually, this last part would take a few seconds or maybe a minute. Most people had most of their files on a network drive and what little stuff they had locally was Word or Excel files.
Except at one point, this one computer was taking over 20 minutes. I checked and notice it was copying GBs of data, and that’s at a time when hard drives had 20 GB total. I looked at what was on the computer and it was full of adult content. Thing is, this was a desktop, so he didn’t bring it home, and at the time, they didn’t have direct access to the internet, so he had to have brought it from home on a USB stick or something, for the purpose of looking at it at work.
I asked my boss what to do, and he told me to delete it and not tell anyone. The guy who had this computer was mid-tier management.”
This Is Not A Virus, It’s An Infestation
“I worked at the instructional technology department at my University. I would often get laptops and computers from various faculty and staff that weren’t working well. The worst was when one of the custodians from the physical plant came in at my boss’s behest because his computer wasn’t working.
I cracked open the side panel, and lo and behold, entire sweaters’ worth of lint dust and debris came out. This thing was a fire hazard waiting to happen, but it gets worse. I put on some gloves and start clearing out the case, and with the vacuum and can of air, I started to notice little black specks. Then these little black specks started jumping. The computer was infested with fleas. This custodian did not have any pets.
As a professional, I finished cleaning the case, swapped out the power supply that had burnt out and the computer mostly worked, save for the mass quantities of adult images that he had on his desktop. This was relatively tame compared to what the liberal arts professors had on their computers. There were a few furries, one with a leather fetish, I do remember one that was really big into mutilation.
I returned the computer and then burnt my clothes in the backyard.”
He Was Trying To Bury His Secrets
“Years ago, in my consulting days, a customer brought in two desktops. They were covered in dirt; inside, outside, everywhere. It looked like someone had literally shoveled dirt into them. He was pretty blunt about what happened: he said his wife had been having pretty explicit chat sessions with some guy on the internet.
In a rage, he took his and her computers out and buried them in the backyard. He then thought better about it and brought them to us in hopes of having them fixed. That was pretty much the last time we saw him. We cleaned both workstations up and actually managed to salvage them. They sat on the shelf for a good year and a half waiting for their owner to come pick them up, but he never came.
We eventually disposed of them since they had been there for a long time and repeated attempts to contact the guy had failed. One day, probably about 2 years after the guy showed up and 6 months after we had scrapped his PC’s, a couple deputies from the local sheriffs’ office showed up with a warrant to seize his equipment. They were surprisingly unconcerned when I told them we didn’t have it.
Turned out his wife had ‘disappeared’ and when the guy was questioned about it, he confessed to killing her. They found her buried in his backyard.”