It's 2:30 a.m. when this data center pilot fish is awakened from a sound sleep by a call from an inexperienced mainframe operator with a show-stopping problem.

"His first language was Spanish, and he was more enthusiastic than really technical," says fish. "He called me to report a system message that was hanging up the CICS transaction processing system.

"After years of experience, I knew that the correct response was R nn,ZERO so through my sleepy fog I told him to type in that reply.

"He said he did and it came back invalid.

"For once I kept calm, and slowly and carefully instructed him to enter ZERO after the new reply number. We did this over and over for about 15 minutes, with him getting increasingly flustered and me spelling out R nn,ZERO as carefully as I could until finally he got it right and ended this conversation.

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