I was puzzled, so I asked her to hold the phone next to the computer and let me hear the noise. She agreed, and as she walked closer, I started to hear the beeping. It was a constant beeping, but didn't sound like beep codes. Over the phone, it sounded like a stuck keyboard.
I asked her if there was anything pressing on the keyboard, and she said no. I asked her to turn off the computer, thinking we would shut it down and reseat the cables. She agreed, and I heard her clicking the mouse, as well as the beeping. I waited a minute and the beeping continued. I asked her if the computer was now shut down. She said yes.
I asked, "It's definitely off? Nothing on the screen? What about a power light on the PC?"
"Yes it's off, nothing on the screen, and the power light went off," she replied.
I could still hear the beeping in the background -- now I was really confused. If the PC was off, the noise should have stopped.
I told her we needed to make sure the computer really was off, explained why, and asked her to go under her desk and pull the computer's power cord out of the outlet or power strip. After some grumbling, she agreed. I heard her fiddling under the desk, the beeping stop, and her saying, "Oh ..."
While I waited for her to get back to the phone, I was thinking she had unplugged the computer, which had stopped the noise, but something must seriously be wrong if the system beeped while turned off. When she picked up the phone, I braced myself, expecting to hear more lectures about the awful computer we sold her. Instead, she apologized!
It seems that after she had hooked everything up to her computer, she had pushed it back under her desk -- where it was pressing against an electric typewriter that was still plugged in and on, as she had just discovered. Technically, my guess was correct. It was a stuck keyboard, but not the one I had expected.
She apologized again, and I laughed it off and said not to worry. But I haven't forgetten this story -- and think of it at times when my patience is stretched thin.
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This story, "The sweet sound of a user's apology," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.