A true story about a call to technical support
|An 8x11 inch copy paper printed with the large words "DO NOT FEED THE PROGRAMMERS" hung on the door. Through the door were myself and two other programmers. We sat around a large circular table each in front of our own computer. A large hole was cut in the table, and numerous cords and wires hung from the computers into the hole.
The technical support staff had strict instructions not to bother us unless the problem the customer was calling in with was so technical, there was no other choice. A technical support employee named Chris had put the sign up, to remind himself and others not to bother us.
We had just shipped out an update to the order entry and accounting software that we developed. This release included the ability to fax invoices and orders without needing to leave the application. I had written the fax interface and was quite proud of what it could do. Faxing from a computer may not be a big deal now, but when this happened it was about 1991.
I was sitting there trying to work out an extremely difficult programming problem when Chris threw open the door. It was quite obvious from the screwed-up expression on his face that he was trying to contain his laughter. I had struck up a friendship with Chris, but this had proved to have a downside in that I had fallen victim to a number of his pranks. I wondered what he was up to.
"Ryan, I know I am not supposed to bother you, but you need to take this call," Chris said through sputtered laughing fits.
"Why?" I said suspiciously.
"You just do. Believe me it will be worth it."
"Okay, transfer the call in."
Chris left the room and my phone rang. No sooner had I picked up the phone when Chris came back in the room. "I gotta hear this." he said a bit breathlessly.
"Hello?" I said dryly, thinking I was being set up for some stupid prank.
"Hi. I am (name withheld) and I am trying to use the new faxing thing."
"Yes. I am the programmer that worked on the feature. What can I help you with?"
"I can't seem to get it to work."
"Do you have a fax capable modem?"
"Never mind. Why don't you tell me what you are trying to do exactly?"
"Well, the instructions say that pressing F8 will send the fax."
"Yes, that is correct."
"I am holding my piece of paper up in front of the computer display and pressing F8, but nothing happens."
"UH...Hmmmm." I choked, trying hard not to laugh. "Ah...the fax feature does not work like that. You need to be viewing an order or an invoice and then press F8 to send the order or invoice as a fax."
"It doesn't fax anything else?"
"No, just invoices and orders."
"Oh. I'm sorry. I'm not really good at this computer stuff."
After I hung up I asked Chris if this was a friend of his calling up as a joke, or if there really are people out there that are as stupid as mud on a stick. Chris swore up and down that the call was legitimate.
To this day, I am not sure if this was a legitimate technical support call and the guy calling was really that stupid, or if I was the idiot.
What do you think?