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We’ve Come A Long Way, But Those Days Were Dark

, , , , , | Right | September 27, 2022

In the mid-1990s, I work in tech support for a Swedish company that manufactures and sells a system for time registration (employee clock-in and out) and computer software to handle the data. I have some calls that I will never forget. Remember, the computer is quite new, and most of the users have no experience. Most customers can handle the computer and hardware (the clock), but then there is this customer.

Customer: “The clock doesn’t work properly. I get an error trying to get the data.”

Me: “You must reset the clock.”

Customer: “How do I do that?”

Me: “First, you go to the clock.”

Before I have time to tell her the next step, I hear a clatter as she puts down the headset and footsteps when she walks away toward the clock.

A couple of minutes later, I hear steps again and an embarrassed client asking:

Customer: “What am I supposed to do with the clock?”

Another day, I get a call from the same customer. The computer, running MS-DOS, is locked.

Me: “You must reset the computer.”

Customer: “How? I have never done that before.”

Me: “Just press Alt-Control-Delete.”

Customer: “Wait, what?”

Me: “First, press and hold ‘Alt’ on the keyboard.”

Customer: “Okay.”

She puts the headset down, walks away, and comes back. I hear a lot of giggling before she picks up the headset again.

Customer: “Okay, and now what?”

Me: “Excuse me, but what exactly did you do?”

Customer: “Just what you said! I got two colleagues to help me press ‘allt’ on the keyboard.”

The Swedish word “allt” sounds like “alt” but literally means “everything”. She and her colleagues pressed everything on the keyboard.

These two calls weren’t the worst.

The customer is having issues with the data, and we need to clear a folder of files to restart the process. Remember, this is pre-Windows, so everything is like only using the command prompt in Windows.

Me: “Okay, can you see the text ‘C:\[application]\[data folder]’ before the blinking cursor?”

Customer: “Yes!”

Me: “Are you sure?”

Customer: “100%.”

Me: “‘C:\[application]\[data folder]’ before the cursor?”

Customer: “Yes!”

Me: “Okay. Type ‘DELETE’ and press enter.”

I hear clicking sounds and a long beep.

Me: “What happened?”

Customer: “A message appeared: ‘Unknown command or file name’.”

I get a bad feeling.

Me: “Are you sure that ‘C:\[application]\[data folder]’ was just before the cursor?”

Customer: “Yes!”

Me: “Really sure?”

Customer: “Yes! I’m sure. ‘C:\[application]\[data folder]’ was five lines above the cursor!”

Me: “Can you please read the whole line where you typed ‘DELETE’?”

Customer: “A ‘C’, a colon, a slash, and an arrow pointing right.”

So, the line said, “C:\>”.

Me: “Okay. You have to tell the local IT crew to send someone to reinstall your computer. You have just managed to wipe the root folder.”

Dogs Know How To Make Their Own Fun

, , , , , , | Related | September 24, 2022

Back when my sister was a toddler, we had a dog — a German shepherd/rottweiler mix to be specific, meaning he was both fairly smart and very loyal. He absolutely adored “the human puppy” (my sister) and was very sad when she wasn’t home. My sister also adored the dog and would play with him often.

When my sister was in the middle of her “imitating the adults” phase, she noticed that we would give the dog treats for doing tricks. She decided she would do this, too, but being too small to reach the treats, she simply settled for taking a bit of food out of the dog’s bowl to reward him with, instead.

We all thought this was very funny, and the dog didn’t seem to mind being rewarded with his own food since it made my sister happy. To keep her from making a mess, my mom taught her only to give the dog “treats” on the hallway carpet. 

One day, when my sister wasn’t home, the dog was sulking as he usually did when he missed my sister. Suddenly, he left the room. I followed him to see if he would like some treats to take his mind off things, and I found him standing by his bowl. He gingerly took a bit of food, went over to the hallway carpet, and gently put it down. Then, he did a trick, waited a few seconds, and ate his “treat”.

I found this hilarious, as did my mother when she came home with my sister and I told her.

From that day forward, whenever the dog would miss my sister, he would do this. He never did it when my sister was home but almost always did it when she was gone. 

Dogs are great.

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Taxing Faxing, Part 33

, , , , | Working | September 16, 2022

This is from decades ago when fax machines were the latest hoot. The paper was on a roll, and it’d drive you crazy toward the end of the roll because the paper would curl up. It was THAT long ago.

I worked at the largest hotel in my hometown. I was a secretary to the management team. The general manager was just a few weeks away from retirement, meaning he wasn’t going to wrap his head around new equipment.

The general manager approached me one day with a letter.

General Manager: “Send this by fax, but make a copy of it first; I’d like to keep the original.”

I didn’t bother explaining to him how faxing works. I just made a copy, handed him the original, faxed the copy, and dusted my hands of the whole thing.

Taxing Faxing, Part 32
Taxing Faxing, Part 31
Taxing Faxing, Part 30
Taxing Faxing, Part 29
Taxing Faxing, Part 28

You Can’t Control What Doesn’t Exist

, , , , | Working | August 30, 2022

Once upon a time in Sweden (or prior to 2019), we had something called a TV licence or a TV fee. In order to finance public service TV and radio channels, every household that owned a TV had to pay a fee. Around the time when Internet streaming services were beginning to get popular, there was a bit of a crackdown on people who had not reported that they owned a TV.

There were controllers going around, knocking on doors of people who had not paid the fee because, for some reason, it was unthinkable that someone would elect not to own a TV. These controllers were not allowed to enter the home. They could only stand outside and ask if there was a TV in the home or, apparently, peek through the windows.

At this time, I legitimately did not own a TV. I lived alone, I got most of my news from the Internet, and I used streaming services for my entertainment needs, so I only had my laptop. However, one day, I got home from work to find a letter from Radiotjänst (the authority in charge of the TV fee) that a TV had been observed in my apartment and that I would need to pay the fee.

This was news to me, so I called their customer service number.

Me: “I got this letter today that says you’ve observed a TV in my home?”

Employee: “Yes, I can see that we’ve had controllers out in your area. Your address is [address], right?”

Me: “Yes, that’s correct. I’m just curious about what TV they’ve observed since I don’t own one. I haven’t had a visit from a controller, either, so I’d really like to know how they reached that conclusion.”

Employee: “All right, let me bring up the notes here. It says the controller walked past your apartment and observed a wall-mounted TV through the living room window.”

Me: “Really? My living room window?”

Employee: “Yes. According to my notes, your apartment is on the ground floor, right?”

Me: “Actually, this is a split-level building. The front entrance is on the ground floor, but in order to observe anything through my living room window on the other side of the house, your controller would have had to climb up onto my balcony. Even then, the only thing they could possibly have observed that’s even remotely TV-shaped would be the cage where I keep my pet rats.”

Employee: “Umm… I’m going to have to get back to you.”

A few days passed by and I didn’t hear back, so I called customer service again and was informed that I would not have to pay the fee.

I guess the controller just wanted to earn their salary without doing their job, assumed that everyone had to have a TV, and just reported everyone in the area who hadn’t paid their fee.

Thankfully, the government eventually realized what an outdated and impractical practice this was and replaced the TV fee with a tax.

We Admire Their Restraint

, , , | Romantic | August 28, 2022

My boyfriend has just been abroad for five weeks visiting family.

Me: “The ice cream in the freezer is for you.”

Boyfriend: “I figured.”

Me: “Why would you do that?”

Boyfriend: “It’s still in the freezer, isn’t it?”

Me: “Mean but true.”