Stories From My Past: Surfer Dude
OK, before we begin, let me just say that I know at least half of you reading this thing have heard this story before. So shut up. :) There's still about half of the site visitors who haven't heard it... current co-workers, family members, not to mention those 16 rejects from the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. I'll grant you, that one is half-blind, but I bet at least one of her pals can read it to her.
So anyway, here's the story. I was working as a Technical Support Agent - I was the poor dork you called when your computer didn't work and it absolutely couldn't be *your* fault. This happened about 10 years ago, in early 1996. At the time, I had only been a Tech Agent for a few months.
A guy calls in, and he has the thickest "Surfer-Dude" accent I've ever heard. When I verbally tell this story, it hurts my throat to do the accent. Think of the most cartoonish, over-the-top, "Whoa, dude!" you've ever heard... and multiply it. This guy was Bill AND Ted, after about 6 excellent adventures and a random sampling of illegal pharmaceuticals.
"So, loike, I've got this CD-ROM, roight? And it's been toe-tally roighteous for me, dude, SWEEEET! And then, loike, I had to reinstall my wiiiiindows, 'cause it went all bogus on me. And now, my CD-ROM isn't working anymore. Bummer, dude."
He'd killed Windows 3.1 on his machine (Win95 was less than 6 months old), and couldn't get his CD-ROM to work. I didn't know exactly how to fix it, but I knew I'd seen the instructions somewhere. But I needed to confirm a model number on his CD-ROM drive.
So, I had him open his computer case, and read off some numbers to me. Once I knew which CD-ROM I was dealing with, I made a critical error... I told him to wait for me while I looked up the instructions. I have no idea what possessed me to think that this guy would just sit quietly and wait for me.
I put him on mute (I could still hear him). Then I found the instructions. I was just about to go back and talk to him when I heard a sudden blood-curdling scream of agony and/or terror from the phone. This was followed by crashing, clanging, and stomping noises - all very loud. There was more than a little screaming and cussing. All was somewhat muted, because he had dropped the phone and was wandering away, presumably in great pain.
So there I was, badly startled, terrified. I was still new at this Tech Support thing. I started shouting into the phone, "Sir! Are you OK?" I hadn't even taken the phone off mute, I was so rattled. I had no idea what to do... I'd killed a customer. What do you do when you kill a customer? Mark the trouble ticket "Solved" and go on?
After what seemed like forever, the sounds subsided. He came back over and picked up the phone. "Sir, are you OK?" was coming out of my mouth in a continuous loop. And then, the Surfer-Dude said (I swear I am NOT making this up)...
"Dude... that tasted bad, and it hurt!"
He quickly followed with a piece of sage advice. "That was nothin' like a 9-volt battery, dude. Don't try that!"
Turns out that when he opened up his computer case, he didn't bother to turn it off first. He had taken one of the spare hard drive / CD-ROM power cables, and had licked it. I believe that those power cables are 12 Amps... quite a bit more than the 9 Volts that he was apparently used to.
"That tasted bad, and it hurt" joined my lore that day (It's a close second to "Logic is Hard"). It's such a fun phrase!