Josh Work U-M Some of my favorite calls

While at UM's Consulting and Support Services, I had a few "favorite" calls. These are the amusing ones you just have to laugh about.

Some of the calls from when I worked at CONVEX Computer Corporation are available too.

The Diet Soda

The phone rings, and it's a nice young lady from one of the dorms. "I've just spilled my diet soda into my computer," she says, with some distress. We identify that it's an IBM PC-or-compatible type machine, she's already powered it off, and needs to know what to do. No problem.

So we walk her through how to gently remove the key caps and drain out the remaining liquid and rinse with water, and finally to take a cotton swab moistened with alcohol and gently dust all over to remove any traces of the cola.

"Is that, like, rubbing alcohol, or whiskey," she asks, in all seriousness.

The Disk Recovery

A woman comes into one of the Computing Sites' consulting rooms, close to tears. The problem? Her term paper is on this one floppy disk, which is no longer readable by the Macintosh — and it's her only copy, and was almost done! What is she to do?

At UM, there was a policy on disk recoveries. A qualified Consultant could perform one on-site; the first program was a freebie, but after that it cost $10 per hour or something. Both of us in the room were qualified, so my coworker jumped at the chance to show off.

He fires up the free disk recovery program and it starts scanning the disk. When the program is done attempting to scan and copy the disk onto another floppy, it generates a beep sound through the OS.

Someone had been kind enough to reset the Mac's default beep sound from the generic chime to a nice woman's voice saying, "Oh, shit!"

So the Mac, after it's done scanning, interrupts the Consultant and the customer's small talk with a nice, loud, friendly "Oh, shit!"

The customer asks, sadly, "Oh. I guess that means it's really bad, huh?"

The disk was recovered, the consultants embarassed, and we tried very very hard not to laugh. I succeeded without biting off the tip of my tongue — but it was close.

The Presidential Visit

I think my most famous customer was the time that President Emeritus Harlan Hatcher (for whom the Graduate Library on campus is named) came in with a modem problem. I was shift manager, so I had him sit down and got our hardware folks to walk him through the problem. Very nice gentleman, in his mid 80s at the time.

I guess you had to be there.

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Last update Jul16/05 by Josh Simon (<>).