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Their Computer Knowledge Is A Little Floppy

, , , , , , | Learning | June 17, 2022

In the late 1970s, I worked as a lab assistant in the computer department. A sense of humor was required for the job. We had yellow vests with the label “Lab Asst.” on them, and we had a bit of yellow tape covering the T. Collectively, we considered buying a T-shirt for our department secretary that featured images of floppy disks and the banner “mini-floppies.” Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and that didn’t happen.

This all was years before the first IBM PC and when the only real alternative to big computers was the Apple II. The computer our department depended on was a PDP-11. It was over seven feet tall and roughly the shape of a filing cabinet. It featured a 200-Mb internal hard drive and a 50-Mb removable drive for backing up data. By modern standards, that’s pretty pathetic, but by the standards of the day, it was already light years ahead of using floppy disks for storage. For those too young to remember, the floppy disks of the era held about 180 Kb of data.

The computer could also handle a dozen users connected by terminals. The terminals were just a screen and keyboard. Students had no access to the actual computer itself, which was in a room separate from the computer lab.

As an example of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing, a student came into our offices one day.

Student: “You guys need to listen to me!”

Coworker: “What’s wrong?”

Student: “Your computer memory space. You don’t have enough.”

Coworker: “What do you mean?”

Student: “I was doing some reading about keeping everything in memory.”

Coworker: “And?”

Student: “You guys need to add a floppy disk drive to the computer.”

We all looked at each other in bewilderment.

Coworker: “Okay, we’ll keep that in mind.”

Student: “Great! I just wanted you to know.”

Well, If She’s Getting Paid By The Hour…

, , , , , , | Working | May 23, 2022

One day, while at work, I received a call from a telemarketer trying to sell me life insurance. I was on my break, so I decided to have some fun with the caller. I gave her very vague and comical answers to all her questions. She then proceeded to transfer me to a licensed sales agent, which I ignored so he just hung up.

I thought they would just remove me from their call list, but a few months later, the same lady called me again! So we did the same routine. The answers I gave were the same ones I gave the first time. It went something like this.

After establishing my name and that I lived in Michigan, she started her questions:

Caller: “How old are you?”

Me: “Older than the womb but younger than the tomb.”

Caller: “That is funny, sir, but seriously, how old are you?”

Me: “Older than the womb but younger than the tomb.”

This repeated four more times before she went on to the next question.

Caller: “How tall are you, sir?”

Me: “Twelve inches to the foot.”

Caller: “Can you be more precise?”

Me: “I can stand on the floor but I cannot reach the ceiling.”

Caller: “Well, okay. Can you tell me how much you weigh?”

Me: “Sixteen ounces to the pound.”

I hear a little frustration in her tone as she goes to the next question.

Caller: “Can you tell me if you use any breathing apparatus?”

Me: “I have a nose, diaphragm, and lungs.”

Caller: “Does any of that plug into an outlet?”

Me: “There are no plugs in me.”

Caller: “Do you live in a nursing home or in a hospital?”

Me: “No.”

Caller: “Okay, I have enough information about you. I am now going to transfer you to a licensed agent to talk to you about life insurance.”

Me: No, you are not! You do not know one thing about me except my name and I live in Michigan!”

Caller: “You gave me all your information, sir.”

Me: “Really?! This is what I told you!”

I then went back through the questions and the answers I had given. Then, I asked her what specific information I gave her. She was silenced for a few seconds and then asked if I was interested in insurance.

Me: “With those vague answers I gave you, what do you think?”

Caller: “So, would you like me to remove your name from our call list?”

Me: *In a very sarcastic tone* “Yes!”

Caller: “Okay, sir, I removed your name and number from our list. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Me: “Do you have another game we can play? I love playing games!”

She finally hung up. 

I don’t understand why she didn’t pick up on the fact I was just toying with her from the beginning.

What IS It With Dads And Shower Length?!

, , , , , | Related | January 29, 2022

My father was a fairly frugal man, and he and I had the same low-level conflict apparently every teen has with his father: showering too long. Generally, I knew about how long I could shower before drawing his ire.

In my junior year in college, I roomed with my best friend, who happened to have the same first name. A few weeks into the fall semester, we drove to my home for the weekend. My room was in the basement and I normally showered in the second-floor bathroom. (Clarification for any Brits: from bottom to top, it was basement, ground floor, second floor.)

I woke on Saturday after sleeping in and dragged myself up the stairs and into the kitchen. My parents saw me and they looked at me strangely. Then, my mom started laughing and my father turned red.

It turns out that my roommate was getting a shower… and he was taking a very long time. My dad heard the shower going on far longer than I ever would have taken. He went upstairs and hammered on the door and shouted:

Dad: “[My Name], you’ve been in there long enough! Shut it down, NOW!”

He went downstairs just in time to see me come up from the basement. It was then that he realized he had the wrong [My Name] and — no surprise here — my roommate was considerably shocked.

The Universe Giveth And Taketh Away

, , , , , | Working | July 2, 2021

When I was in my late teens, I was a programmer for a huge aerospace firm. The parking lot alone was the size of the lot for a mid-sized shopping mall. When I was leaving work one day, I realized that my car keys were missing. The keychain on it was unique: a long strip of some furry animal skin. I checked with security and nobody had turned in any keys. Security contacted a locksmith for me and he got me in my car and made a replacement key. It cost me quite a bit, but I wised up and duplicated the key, plus copies of my other keys, so I had spares… just in case.

“Just in case” was nearly a year later. I knew I could call my dad and have him bring me spares, but I figured I’d check with security first.

Me: “Hi. Did you have any keys turned in today?”

Guard: “Oh, yes. We just had these turned in today.”

He reached in the lost and found box, and I could tell at a glance as he pulled it out that it was mine. It was the furry-tailed set of keys I lost the year before. The set I lost that day never turned up. So weird.

Of All The Ways You Try To Get Someone To Pay For Your Ride

, , , , | Right | June 30, 2020

An employee of a temp service has just been fired from his job. He’s already called once and been directed to the on-call person for the temp agency.

Me: “Good evening, [after hours service]. How can I help you?”

Caller: “Yeah, I was jumped by three people at this job and they told me to leave. [Temp Service] told me there’s nothing they can do but my ride won’t be here for another hour. I need to get home; can you call me a taxi?”

Me: “No, sir, I’m sorry. I am the answering service; I cannot call you a taxi.”

Caller: “Well… what I am supposed to do, then? I can’t wait here for an hour. I need you to call me a taxi.”

Me: “Sir, I will not call you a taxi. That’s something you need to do yourself.”

Caller: “Okay, well, who would I call then?”

Me: “Call for what, sir?”

Caller: “To get a ride home… Would I call the Department of Treasury?”

Me: *Sighs* “No, sir, you would call the taxi company.”

You can’t fix stupid.