Occasionally I’ll head over to Subway to buy a sandwich for lunch. On this particular day, the line was longer than normal. The people ahead of me were all together and one of them had a sheet of paper with additional orders from back in their office. After ordering one of the sandwiches, the Subway sandwich assembler informed them that they were out of the bread that they wanted.
To fix the situation, one of the guys got on his cell phone and called up his office to speak to his co-worker in order to pick another type of bread. This conversation followed. Note: It’s much better to hear than to read, but I’ll do my best.
Since he was on his cell phone, I only got one side of the conversation:
Hi Mary, get me Sue. Tell her I’m over at Subway and they don’t have Italian bread. (pause)
Hi Sue, yeah, I’m over at Subway and they’re out of Italian bread so you’ll have to pick something else. Ok let me look at what they have.
(he walks to the list of bread types. He sees the different breads in a case and the name of the bread below it on a small tag. The different tags say, “Honey Oat,” “Wheat,” and “Jalapeno”)
Ok, let’s see. It says that they have Honey Oat, Wheat and (phonetically he says) gel-op-ano.
I said GEL-OP-AN-O. Yeah. I don’t know what it is either, let me look.
Looks like it has jalapeno’s in it or something.
No, he never did put it all together.
In the days before digital photography, we used film. To develop the film, we brought it to a camera store where an envelope would be filled out and the film would be dropped in. That evening, or a day later (or even in just an hour), your prints would return.
That’s how this story begins. My father owns a camera store and a customer came in to develop a roll of film. She placed the 35mm film container on the counter and my father started filling out the envelope. My accident, the envelope knocked into the film container and it dropped to the floor. He didn’t think much of it and the customer picked up the film and placed it back on the counter. The film was sent off for developing.
When the prints were developed, the customer came in to pick them up. Upon looking at the results, the following conversation occurred:
Customer: All of my pictures are blurry!
Salesman: That could be caused by several reasons… low light, slow shutter speed, unsteady camera…
Customer: No, you pushed the film canister onto the floor when you were filling out the envelope!
Salesman: That wouldn’t cause your pictures to become blurry.
Customer: Of course it would. The film got all shook up, which caused the blurry pictures. I want a refund. You ruined my pictures! I’m never shopping here again!!
It’s customers like this that just can’t be reasoned with. Good riddance.
There are many times when a person seems willing to help, but then is unable to because “the computer won’t let me do it that way.” Such was the case when visiting a local takeout. I wanted to purchase two orders of their “Salmon and Shrimp Curry Noodles” but without the salmon or shrimp. Nowhere on the menu could I purchase only curry noodles. The only way to order it was with the salmon or shrimp.
An order cost $11.99 each, but you have to figure that most of the actual cost is taken up by the salmon and shrimp. Since I was only getting noodles, it didn’t seem fair to be required to pay full price.
“I can’t do that”, the waiter explained. “There’s no way for me to charge you less and we don’t have only the noodles on the menu.”
Have the machines already taken over? Didn’t man program them? Can man override them?
Surprisingly, a solution was found. the waiter offered to add “extra extra noodles”. In the end, each order had at least twice the noodles than they normally would. I think that was a good compromise and I give my local takeout a thumbs up for coming up with a way to override the system, even if they could not override the machine.
Working in tech support for a company exposes me to many instances of ineptitude. Some make me roll my eyes, others make me laugh out loud.
My first encounter was also my most memorable and to this date, my favorite story.
The setup: This story dates back to around the year 2000. I’m on the phone with an elderly man who called in for support with software for his PalmPilot.
Note: The product name has been changed to “Funkyware” to protect the innocent.
Me: Hello, how may I help you?
Man: Hi, my name is Leo and I’m having trouble with Funkyware.
Me: Ok, can you tell me what you see on the screen?
Man: (moves phone away) “Mildred, what does it say on the screen?”
Long pause as I hear Mildred say something to her husband.
Man: It just says Funkyware.
Me: Does it say anything else?
Man: (slightly muffled) “Mildred, does it say anything else?”
Man: No, that’s it.
Me: Can you tell me what version of Funkyware you’re using?
Man: “Mildred, what version of Funkyware are we using?”
Man: I don’t know. How can I tell?
I can see how this call is going, so I take a different approach.
Me: Sir, would you mind putting your wife on the phone. I think it would be easier if I spoke directly with her.
Man: “Mildred, the guy wants to talk with you.”
Me: Hi. Ok, We want to find out what version of the application you’re running.
Woman: How do I do that?
Me: Please tap on the top left part of the screen.
Woman: “Leo, the guy wants you to tap on the top left part of the screen…”