True Stories From The Workbench

In case you don’t know, I have been an IT guy since 1995 when I retired from the Army (but I did get my first experience with computers in 1975 doing Cobol programming using punch cards. That’s when I first realized that not only am I very poor at spelling, my typing is even worse. I quickly left the programming field.)

These are just three true stories I have personally experienced over the years. The names have been left out to protect the stupid end users.

About 1995, helping a law firm with the legal version of Word Perfect. Now, this is just before Windows 95 came out, so we’re still dealing with DOS 6 and Windows 3.11 (if you’ve never heard of those versions go read about them somewhere, things were quite a bit different).

In Word Perfect, several options were accessed by using the function keys. These are the keys on the very top of your keyboard that have the letter F and a number (i.e. F10). Take a look, they’re up there. So in this version of Word Perfect (which is a program like MS Word, and at one time was much more popular. It’s still in use in some specific places such as legal offices), the use of these functions keys did many things, such as insert pre-composed paragraphs. One of the legal assistants would call the shop I worked at on a regular basis, saying her keyboard wasn’t working. We would go through the usual testing procedures and never find a fault. She would show us the “problem”.  When in Word Perfect and you had to use one of the function keys, she instead would type it out. So instead of just hitting the F10 key, she would type the letter F then 1 and 0. Which of course, did nothing but add the “F10” text to her document and not do the desired function.  We would have this call at least 3 times a month until they fired her.

Move to about 1998. This is the time frame when sound cards & CD-ROMS were just becoming standard in the PC world. One of our regular customers brought his PC in to have a sound card and CD player added. Not a tough task for our shop.  The software that came with the package had a GUI (graphical user interface) that looked like a standard stereo system you’d find in your home.

I called the unibomber gentlemen letting him know he can come pick up his PC and I will have it set up on the demo table on the sales floor to show him how everything works.  We go through the demo with no problems. I stress that the software will work “just like your stereo at home”. He claims he understands.

About an hour later he calls in and the call gets routed to me since I was the tech that did the work. First thing I ask is if everything is working correctly, CDs play, sounds are coming from the speakers etc.. No problem there is he says, but I have a question he says.  “How do I rewind the CD?” Well, that made no sense to me, so I ask him to repeat the question so I make sure I didn’t misunderstand him. He asks the question again word for word, “How do I rewind the CD?” In disbelief, I say the question back to him, “You need to know how to rewind a CD?” This immediately gets my fellow techs attention, and they stop what they are doing and gather behind me to hear what’s going on. I again tell him that the system works just like his home system. His reply was “I understand that, but if I stop a CD in the middle of a track, how do I rewind it to start over?” At this point, I had to point him on hold so we could all laugh.

It took about 10 minutes of explaining how things work, but he got it in the end.

Finally, about 1999, working for a telemarketing firm as the “IT Manager” (it was a one-man IT shop, so take the title for what it’s worth).  I get a call from one of the offices upstairs that her monitor wouldn’t power on. When I get to the office the first thing I notice is that’s dark. They usually didn’t turn on all the overhead lights, but this time all of them were off. So I ask, “Why is it so dark in here today?”, thinking maybe someone was hung over (a common occurrence). She tells me “Oh we lost power”. And you wonder why your monitor won’t turn on???  About this time the department manager comes out of his office asking what I needed. When I tell him, he just shakes his head and does the classic facepalm. Took us about 45 minutes to hunt down the breaker box to get power restored.

I have more, but that’s enough for today.  If you’d like to hear more leave me a comment, or if you have some similar experiences, leave a comment or two!

Thanks for reading.