The truth is, I have stories about computers that go back quite a way.And today there is one more. Of course, I won’t mention any names … to protect the, er, innocent.
Lets just say that one unnamed man called one unnamed woman for technical help on his new PC.
And lets also say that said woman knows a thing or two about computers.
It always amazes me that people are so fearful of machines … as though they had a mind of their own. But they are.
So first came the phone call.
HE: I am having trouble with this (expletive deleted) new machine of mine.
SHE: And what is it you are trying to do?
HE: Well, I was installing a program and it wants the code.
SHE: And what happened when you typed it in?
HE: It gave me an error.
SHE: Did you call the support line?
HE: I hate support lines. I hate my PC.
… flash forward several back and forth questions, answers and expletive deleteds …
HE: So do you think you could just come over here and take a look at it? I am sure you will be able to fix it.
SHE: (flattery getting him nowhere, but having pity) Oh, sure … I will be right over.
SHE travels roughly 20 miles to help HE.
SHE: (sitting in front of the computer) Yes, I see the error you were talking about. Maybe if I type in the code, I will see something differently. (don’t say something obvious that you missed … too critical)
HE: Here it is (as he hands over a piece of paper with roughly a bazillion letters and numbers on it.)
SHE: Maybe we can save some time if you just read it to me.
At this point HE reads the code … and reads the code … and reads the code … as SHE types the code … and types the code … and types the code.
HE: (reads) …797BY-68484-73TH7 … etc.
SHE: (types) …797BY-68484-73TH7 … etc.
Error appears on-screen.
SHE: Hm. Lets try that again.
HE: (reading) … 797BY-68484-73TH7 … etc.
SHE: (typing) … 797BY-68484-73TH7 … etc.
Error appears on-screen. Again.
SHE: We should probably call the support line. After all this is what they get the big bucks for.
HE: Here is the phone. You do it. I hate …
SHE: OK, OK … (calls support number)
Series of “Press one for English, Press two for Swahili, Press …” and “Press or say one for technical support, Press or say two for …” later the phone rings.
After successfully going through 99 more choices and giving all but shoe size and middle name of firstborn child, the phone finally rings. Again.
SUPPORT#1: Hello, can I help you? (Cheerful, albeit non-English-speaking voice says)
SHE: Yes, we are having difficulty with getting your program installed successfully.
SUPPORT#1: And what are you doing?
SHE: We are typing in the code and we get an error.
SUPPORT#1: And how are you typing it? What are you typing?
SHE: (explains in detail) … 797BY-68484-73TH7 … etc.
SUPPORT#1: Yes that is how to do it.
SHE: (slightly irritated) Then why is it giving us this error?
SUPPORT#1: I have no idea. How about I transfer you to level two support?
HE: (mumbling in the background) I hate support. I hate my PC.
They wait almost 10 minutes.
SUPPORT#2: Hello, how can I help you?
SHE: (fill in pretty much the same conversation as with SUPPORT#1)
SUPPORT#2: Gee, that should work. Let me go get someone else to help you.
HE: (steam coming out of ears) I am going to take this back. Doesn’t work. Stupid PC.
SUPPORT#3: Hello, what can I do to help you?
SHE: Having some problems here … can’t get code to work … nobody can figure it out.
SUPPORT#3: And what are you typing?
SHE: 797BY-68484-73TH7 … etc.
SUPPORT#3: Thats odd … here … let me sign on to your PC from here.
You know where this is going, right?
At this point the PC gets a life of its own. Theoretically driven from far, far away.
SUPPORT#3: Please enter your user code.
SHE: (types code)
SUPPORT#3: And what are you typing for your program code?
SHE: 797BY-68484-73TH7 … etc.
SUPPORT#3: You mean 684B4, right?
SHE: No, 68484.
HE: Oh. Ooops. (expletive deleted)
THEY: (laughing uncontrollably) Thank you for your help. I think we have it now.
So the problem was solved and life went on … new PC running as promised.
But it made me think of the other times in my years doing computers … and why I went from Systems Engineering into Marketing lo those many years ago.
For example … there was the time I got a call from a customer …
HE: Hey, I need help here.
ME: What is it doing?
HE: Nothing. Where is the “NE” key?
ME: The what?
HE: The NE key? It says Press NE Key.
ME: Thats Any Key … any key on the keyboard.
ME: Press the Enter key.
HE: OK. That worked. Thanks.
Yes. It really did happen. To me.
As did this …
SHE: The computer is not working.
ME: Did you press the enter key?
ME: Did you put the diskette in the diskette drawer?
ME: Did you type what you were supposed to type?
SHE: Yes, but it didn’t show on the little screen.
ME: (not wanting to say it but …) Did you press the Power On switch?
SHE: (long pause)
SHE: Yep, that worked.
But the funniest one happened to a co-worker, who could not stop laughing when this happened. I think he had to go home to change his clothes or something.
HE: Hello? Can I help you?
SHE: Hi. I am having trouble with the computer here. I can’t figure out how to load the internet program.
HE: Do you have the CD we sent you?
HE: Then all you have to do is put it in the PC.
SHE: But I don’t know how to do that.
HE: Well, you open it up and put it in.
SHE: I don’t see how.
HE: Just put it in the CD slot.
SHE: I don’t have a CD slot.
HE: It is on the front of the PC.
SHE: There isn’t one there.
HE: Let’s go from top to bottom. What do you have?
SHE: Well, there is a power on button.
SHE: Then there is a diskette slot.
SHE: Then there are the things for the camera cards.
HE: Uh huh.
SHE: Then there is the cute little coffee thingy.
HE: The what?
SHE: You know, the coffee cup holder? The one that slides out when you push the little button.
HE: (combination of uncontrolled laughter and beating his head on the desk) Um … ma’am?
HE: That’s not a coffee cup holder. That’s a CD holder … That is where you put the CD to make it works.
SHE: Oh. OK.
I swear to you this happened. He couldn’t control his laughter for the rest of the day.
So I guess by comparison, the dialog of earlier today was rather tame.