The unfortunate story of an on-call technician • The Register

on duty Some users are less than bright, and some are just slightly dark. But few are as dark as this high-flying employee of the world’s once-favorite airline. Welcome to Call.

Today’s phone tribulation story comes from “James” (because that’s not his name). This takes us back about 10 years when James was making a fairly good living as a freelance computer repairman. Got some broken kit? He was the local man to see.

“I had replaced the screen of a Dell laptop computer for a new client who lived in a nice neighborhood, with a fairly large house,” he told us.

A price for the work had been agreed but, probably after watching too much reality TV, the well-heeled client tried to negotiate a discount. James was unimpressed – the lion’s share of the cost had been the new screen. So he stuck to his guns.

“They paid by cheque,” ​​he recalls, “which then bounced back.”

Of course he did. A story about the checkbook for the wrong account was made up and a replacement was promised. No doubt made more urgent by the need for James’s services again. This new screen? It did not work.

“It shocked me,” James told us, “because I had demonstrated it worked when I returned it to the client.”

This being a modern laptop there were no external buttons or dials for the screen but James still wondered if there had been a finger issue and someone pressed the wrong key . “The couple weren’t exactly the most skilled computer users I’ve encountered.”

No worries though. The couple had a son. He was a pilot for the aforementioned airline, once the world’s favorite. “If anyone knew computers, then they knew it” was the line, and so James agreed to take a call from this “expert” when he returned from his last fly-boy antics.

Probably using The Voice reserved for announcements to passengers, curious to know if their suitcases were on the same flight as them, the son duly called James. Yes, the laptop was on. Yes, the screen was black. YES, there were LEDs on indicating activity. YES OF COURSE HE TRIED TO USE THE FUNCTION KEYS TO INCREASE THE BRIGHTNESS.

And so on. James was bewildered. The screen definitely worked, but the son insisted that increasing the brightness using the function keys had no effect.

Maybe a keyboard driver? But no, James had tested the hardware and knew it definitely worked.

“After driving over the same terrain several times, the driver was starting to get mad at me because I was obviously an idiot who didn’t know his job,” James said. “I was getting to the point where I was going to arrange another visit so I could see for myself when I decided to have him try turning the brightness down instead of up…just in case. ..”

Success! Our not-so-friendly pilot had mixed up his arrows and smashed the down button instead of the up button.

“I don’t know about you,” James said, “but I’m not sure I’m flying with a pilot who can’t properly differentiate between top and bottom, but seeing as I’m an idiot who knows little on these things, I’m probably just going stupid again…”

James added: “He didn’t even apologize.”

We think it’s entirely possible that the pilot on the phone thought of shooting one of the better Boeings or Airbuses, which would involve pulling the controller back (or hitting the down key on a flight simulator to point the nose upwards). , we had a few landings where it certainly looked like the pilot was confusing “high” with “low” in the final seconds of the flight, with pieces of the plane’s interior falling on us as the airframe bounced off the track.

As for James, he eventually got paid and was never called about the screen again.

Just because a person has crazy skills in a discipline doesn’t mean computer knowledge is a guarantee. Have you ever received a call from a customer convinced that the top was broken or that the VGA socket was just a fancier serial port? Let us know by emailing On Call. ®