How about virtual bosses?

November 7, 1997

Personally I think virtual pets are a good idea. They allow parents to teach their children about responsibility without giving them any real responsibility, they give children the opportunity to learn about pets without breaking anything, forcing any life adjustment, or stinking up the house, and they teach children that death or fatal illness is a tragic thing, but that it can be fixed with a new battery. Doesn’t it make you wonder, though, what will happen when these children grow up and go into jobs? Inevitably some of them will be managers and supervisors, and just what kind of managers will they be? I think that question’s already been answered by a recent phenomenon in the work world: temps. Don’t get me wrong. I like temps. Some of my best friends are temps. At one time I was a temp myself. I spent a week shipping magazines in a warehouse and was awarded the title "Biggun" on my second day. But the same mindset that created virtual pets created temporary worker agencies first–maybe it was even the same people. Temps are like virtual employees. They’re cheap, easy to maintain, and are easily replaced. And because technology is always advancing, they, like pets, may soon be replaced by battery-operated counterparts. Keeping that in mind, maybe toy designers need to design electronic cardboard box environments complete with computer-generated welfare checks so children can learn about virtual unemployment.

Enjoy the following virtually funny offerings.


"Anytime you feel dumb, don’t worry. Check out the following excerpts from a Wall Street Journal article by Jim Carlton, and you’ll realize there are lots of people in the world far, far more idiotic than you could possibly be…"

  1. Compaq is considering changing the command "Press Any Key" to "Press Return Key" because of the flood of calls asking where the "Any" key is.

  2. AST technical support had a caller complaining that her mouse was hard to control with the dust cover on. The cover turned out to be the plastic bag the mouse was packaged in.

  3. Another Compaq technician received a call from a man complaining that the system wouldn’t read word processing files from his old floppy diskettes. After troubleshooting for magnets and heat failed to diagnose the problem, it was found that the customer labeled the diskettes then rolled them into the typewriter to type the labels.

  4. Another AST customer was asked to send a copy of her defective diskettes. A few days later a letter arrived from the customer along with Xeroxed copies of the floppies.

  5. A Dell technician advised his customer to put his troubled floppy back in the drive and close the door. The customer asked the tech to hold on, and was heard putting the phone down, getting up and crossing the room to close the door to his room.

  6. Another Dell customer called to say he couldn’t get his computer to fax anything. After 40 minutes of troubleshooting, the technician discovered the man was trying to fax a piece of paper by holding it in front of the monitor screen and hitting the "send" key.

  7. Another Dell customer needed help setting up a new program, so a Dell tech suggested he go to the local Egghead. "Yeah, I got me a couple of friends" the customer replied. When told Egghead was a software store, the man said, "Oh, I thought you meant for me to find a couple of geeks."

  8. Yet another Dell customer called to complain that his keyboard no longer worked. He had cleaned it by filling up his tub with soap and water and soaking the keyboard for a day, then removing all the keys and washing them individually.

  9. A Dell technician received a call from a customer who was enraged because his computer had told him he was "bad and an invalid". The tech explained that the computer’s "bad command" and "invalid" responses shouldn’t be taken personally.

  10. An exasperated caller to Dell Computer Tech Support couldn’t get her new Dell Computer to turn on. After ensuring the computer was plugged in, the technician asked her what happened when she pushed the power button. Her response, "I pushed and pushed on this foot pedal and nothing happens." The "foot pedal" turned out to be the computer’s mouse.

  11. Another customer called Compaq tech support to say her brand new computer wouldn’t work. She said she unpacked the unit, plugged it in, and sat there for 20 minutes waiting for something to happen. When asked what happened when she pressed the power switch, she asked "What power switch?"

  12. True story from a Novell NetWire SysOp: Caller: "Hello, is this Tech Support?" Tech: "Yes, it is. How may I help you?" Caller: "The cup holder on my PC is broken and I am within my warranty period. How do I go about getting that fixed?" Tech: "I’m sorry, but did you say a cup holder?" Caller: "Yes, it’s attached to the front of my computer." Tech: "Please excuse me if I seem a bit stumped, It’s because I am. Did you receive this as part of a promotional, at a trade show? How did you get this cup holder? Does it have any trademark on it?" Caller: "It came with my computer, I don’t know anything about a promotional. It just has ‘4X’ on it."

    At this point the Tech Rep had to mute the caller, because he couldn’t stand it. The caller had been using the load drawer of the CD-ROM drive as a cup holder, and snapped it off the drive!

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