When I first started at TAC, I wasn’t allowed to take cases by myself.  If I grabbed a case, I had to get an experienced engineer to help me out.  One day I grabbed a case on a Catalyst 6k power supply, and asked Veena (not her real name) to help me on the case.

We got the customer on the phone.  He was an engineer at a New York financial institution, and sounded like he came from Brooklyn.  I lived in Williamsburg for a while with my mom back in the 1980’s before it was cool, and I know the accent.  He explained that he had a new 6k, and it wasn’t recognizing the power supply he had bought for it.  All of the modules had a “power denied” message on them.

I put the customer on speaker phone in my cube and Veena looked at the case notes.  As was often the case in TAC, we put the customer on mute while discussing the issues.  Veena thought it was a bad connection between the power supply and the switch.

“Here’s what I want you to do,” Veena said to the customer, un-muting the phone.  “I used to work in the BU, and a lot of times these power supplies don’t connect to the backplane.  You need to put it in hard.  Pull the power supply out and slam it in to the chassis.  I want to hear it crack!”

The customer seemed surprised.  “You want me to do what?!” he bristled.

“Slam it in!  Just slam it in as hard as you can!  We saw this in the BU all the time!”

“Hey lady,” he responded, “we paid a couple hundred grand for this box and I don’t want to break it.”

“It’s ok,” she said, “it’ll be fine.  I want to hear the crack!”

“Well, ok,” he said with resignation.  He put the phone down and we heard him shuffle off to the switch.  Meanwhile Veena looked at me and said “Pull up the release notes.”  I pulled up the notes, and we saw that the power supply wasn’t supported in his version of Catalyst OS.

Meanwhile in the background:  CRACK!!!

The customer came back on the line.  “Lady, I slammed that power supply into the chassis as hard as I could.  I think I broke something on it, and it still doesn’t work!”

“Yes,” Veena replied.  “We’ve discovered that your software doesn’t support the power supply and you will need to do an upgrade…”