Main      Site Guide    
Computer Stupidities


Faxes are often perceived as magical devices in the eyes of the general public. Most people understand that faxes use phone lines, if not necessarily how, but others equate faxes to black magic and mysticism.

Once I received a phone call from a secretary. She complained that she couldn't fax a letter: "It keeps grabbing the letter, but it spits it back out the other side!"

One guy went to a bank to make a transaction. The clerk said that some data should be sent by fax to the central bank. So he put the sheet into the fax machine and pressed the send button. It appeared that the transfer was performed successfully, but the clerk thought otherwise. So he sent the sheet again. Frustrated, he gives up.

I work for a moving company where faxing documents is the most common form of communication between companies. Well apparently not every one in our industry is completely aware of how a fax machine works. A lady called one of our coordinators to inform us that we really need to change out the toner cartridges in our fax machines because all of the faxes she got from us were coming out really light. Our coordinator was really nice and let the lady know that we would definitely take care of that for her.

At the Microsoft web site, when I tried to register for some freebies without giving away too much about myself, I received the following error:

A customer called to say he couldn't get his computer to fax anything. After forty minutes, the tech 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.

The Met office is now using fax machines to give local authorities early warning of severe weather. The Hampshire emergency planning office said, "Rather than having to rely on telephones, for instance, where lines are at risk in bad weather, we are encouraging the wider use of fax machines."

I work on the help desk for a certain credit card verification software package. The main problem that we have with it is getting modems to connect at 1200 and 2400 baud. Anyway, looking through the fax queue the other day, I came across a two page fax addressed to one of the techs. The cover page says, "Jim -- Here is the modem information you requested." Figuring I'd help Jim out, I decide to take a look. It took me a minute to figure it out, but I finally was able to determine what the large, mostly black page was. The customer had pulled his internal modem out of his machine, photocopied it, and sent it in. The worst part of this call though was Jim trying to explain to the customer why this wasn't helpful and that it wasn't really necessary to fax a copy of the other side.

One of our new hires recently walked around the print room, milling about, looking somewhat puzzled.

Overheard at the office:

After several more minutes of explaining, he accepted an over night delivery of diskettes, but he was still confused as to why we could not fax the drivers."

The amount on a final mortgage payment from one of our customers was $30 short, and it was my job to collect the extra money. I called and asked for the payment, explaining that it was important to pay it promptly but that if she mailed in a check, that would be fine. The customer asked if there was a faster way.

I run a computer shop. Back in the early 1990s, I received the following phone call:

The customer, a secretary, duly appeared in the shop. Upon opening up the fax machine, I found a 5 1/4" disk wrapped around the rollers and melted onto the heating roller. It turned out that her boss had phoned her and asked her to fax him what was on the disk. She did! Apparently it had been quite difficult to feed it in.

Once I needed to send a fax to someone. I had the following conversation with his secretary.


A tech asked a customer for a "screen shot." He also requested she fax him the result. Lo and behold, through the fax came a photocopy of a Polaroid picture of her screen.

A customer once asked me if I could fax him a copy of a disk instead of sending it through the mail. If I didn't need my job I would have told him that I would, but he'd have to wait a bit because Domino's was faxing me a pizza.

I once received a fax with a note on the bottom to fax the document back to the sender when I was finished with it, because he needed to keep it.