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stormThunderstorms had rolled through the region, knocking out power temporarily to some of the stores of this supermarket chain. So when a help desk technician got an emergency page from one store, he figured he knew how to handle it.

Turns out it was not that easy. "When I called the store, a somewhat dippy cashier answered the phone," he says. "The cash registers were all off-line, and when I gave her what I thought were simple instructions to restart the registers, she was having trouble understanding."

The flustered cashier just can't seem to get things working - until the tech gets an idea.

"At one point the phone clicked, and she told me it was an incoming call on another line," he reports. "She clicked off and answered again right away."

I said, "Hi, it's Mark from the help desk."

She said, "Oh, hi! I have another guy from the help desk on the other line! Can you help me out? I don't understand what he's telling me to do."

I replied, "That guy's name is Mark too, and he is the most knowledgeable person in our department. Just take a deep breath, calm down, and let him help you get the registers back up."

Another click.

"Hello, is this Mark? I just had that other Mark on the other line. OK, now tell me again what I need to do...."

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