Thursday, 10 January 2013

Have you tried turning it off, then leaving it?

OK, so you've all had time to formulate your own theories on whether deviant parenting made me the man I am today. I'd like to add more evidence, this time it's not my parents I blame, but my workmates and customers. I have more stories about these people than I have about anyone else.

Except, possibly, myself.

In the dim and distant past, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and everything was in black and white, I used to work in IT Support - But you still work in IT Support I hear you remark; Ahah!, but no, a common misconception is that everyone who works in IT does what Roy and Moss do in Graham Linehan's excellent program 'The IT Crowd'.

Most of us don't (But it doesn't stop people asking you to give them Facebook hints or asking for your professional advice on what they should buy and then buying something else because it was shinier - You know who you are!) - But at the time, I did. *cough*. You all must have heard those 'Hilarious' stories about people thinking that their CD-ROM drives were cup-holders and wondering why their computers didn't work during a power cut and thought, 'People can't really be that stupid' - Well, let me tell you, they are...

One of my first jobs, nearly thirty years ago, was in a small computer shop, I was one of the people who they hid in the back room and wouldn't let talk to the customers, ever. Which made it an unusual day when the phone in my cage rang and the girl on the other end said,

'Dandy, it's the Po-leese - They want to talk to you,' and then she put the phone down.

'H-Hello,' I said, 'Can I help?'

'Yes, this is Inspector Momanna Banana Peeyanah from The Derbyshire Constabulary, there seems to be a problem with the printer we brought from you last week.'

'Oh... I'm sorry to hear that, what model of printer is it?'

'How am I supposed to know? You're the computer person, is it not in your records?'

'Well Sir, if you look on the front of the printer, it will say something like - Epson FX something or other, the something or other will be the model number'

He put the phone down and, I assume, wandered over to the printer, read the label and gave me the model number. I had a look around and found we had one over the other side of the workshop. It was just too far away for me to look at it whilst I was on the phone, bearing in mind that telephones had wires in those days and if you had suggested mobile or even cordless phones, you would have been burned as a witch.

'What is the printer doing?'

'Nothing, it's broken'

'Ah, no, I mean are there any flashing lights, or is it beeping?'




'Fine, which lights are flashing?'

He put the phone down again, walked over to the printer, checked the lights and came back.

'Paper,' He said, as cool as a cucumber. I took this opportunity to repeatedly bang the phone handset off the desk.

'Oh, Sorry, I dropped the phone. Does the printer have any paper in it?'


'Yes, paper, there should be a box of paper under the printer.'

'There's an empty box that says 2-part, fan-fold, music ruled on it.'

I put him on speakerphone, gestured wildly to my friend Paul, who was busy soldering something and said, loudly,

'Can I confirm that the problem you seem to be having is that your printer has stopped working, it is now making a beeping noise, a light marked 'paper' is flashing and there is an empty box marked 2-part, fan-fold, music ruled underneath it?'

'Yes, that's correct, do you have any idea what it might be?'

'Erm... Yes, I - I do have an idea,' I had to mute the phone at this point, as I was finding it difficult not to laugh, 'I think you might have run out of paper... But that's only a guess - Would you like us to send an engineer out?'

'Yes, that would be great, thank you.'

We did send an engineer, with a couple of boxes of paper, which seemed to cure the problem... For a while at least.


Another time, we had a similar call, but this time it wasn't from Da Five-Oh, it was from a small phamaceutical company that you probably wouldn't have heard of. We had a deal with the chap who was the IT Buyer whereby he would come to us for everything as long as we occasionally slipped him a free PC game. His latest aquisition was Microsoft Flight Sim V1.0, which at the time, came on and ran from a 5 1/4" floppy disc (which was actually floppy) and was in black & white (Well, black & green). We used to put new labels on the discs for him and everything, so no-one would know. The call went something like this:

'Hi this is Steve from Fisons!'

'OK, how can I help you Steve?'

'Ah.. Erm.. Remember how you guys sent me a copy of the Flight Simulator?'

'Yeah, is everything OK?'

'Not really, no - It's stopped working - I think I might have spilled something on it.'

'Right, not a problem - You know how we suggest you take backup copies of the discs when you get them, and put them somewhere safe?'


'Did you do that for this disc?'

'Yes, I did, it's in my safe'

'Brilliant, just use that, it should work exactly the same, but I suggest you make a backup copy of your backup and keep that safe just in case.'

'How would I use the copies?'

'Well, you'd just put it in the drive as you would with the originals, just treat it the same as the one we originally sent you.'

'So, should I cut it or fold it up?'

'No... You shouldn't need to do either of those things. Just put it in. close the door and start the software as you normally would.'

'Ah.. No, I don't think that'll work, the copy is bigger.'


'Yes, it's A4.'

'A... 4... ?'

'Yes, I photocopied it, just like you guys suggested.'

I slowly put down the phone, went over to the emergency toolkit, took out the revolver and shot myself six times, in the face.


I quite literally have bucketloads of similar stories, and I will trot them out over the life of this blog, some are priceless, some you will not believe.

But the one thing they all have in common is that they are all, completely true - Only the names have been changed, but only because I can't remember them in most cases.


  1. What we used to refer to in my support days as "eye-dee-ten-tee" errors

  2. Working in IT support is just like starring in a sit com with guest writers, Vic Reeves seems to write most of my material

  3. Someone who will remain nameless in Staffordshire County Council actually used there CD/DVD drive as a coffee cup holder, and complained to us on rollout when it stopped working (due to coffee residue) The person was glad they were getting a new cup holder (their exact words!)
    A thin client was installed instead as they clearly had no clue!

  4. Funny, i used to live next door to you Mr Dandy with 3 extremely loud children.
    I know this is not IT based but its true and I find it very funny and you will be able to relate to it to Mr D seeing as you know the characters involved:
    As I'm sure you're well aware I used to do night shifts and after returning home early one morning when the birds were singing I decided to leave my then wife a little "cryptic" note so that my children were not scarred for life, the note read:

    "Didn't get in from work till 5am, could you possibly wake me up at around 1pm with "the noise of a turkey!!!"

    Smiling to myself I climbed into bed joyfully dreaming about my oral treat awaiting me.

    So how was i ACTUALLY woken....YUP, she was stood in the corner of the bedroom flapping her arms and making chicken noises(ba-clerrrrrk). I'm like WHAT THE F**K???? She replies...."Well i thought it was a strange request!!!

    It took me a few minutes to actually realise that not only did she NOT understand she got the wrong type of bird, needless to say, me too!!!!

    Guess her hair colour :)

    PEACE x