I've been working in the open computer lab at Kingwood Community College for almost two years now, and as such I have seen some very strange things and dealt with some very computer illiterate people. All of these stories are true (so far as I know). Last updated: October 13th, 2006.

A student once came up to the desk complaining that a computer had eaten his CD. He wasn't kidding, we had to take the drive out and disassemble it to get all the pieces out (it had shattered at high speed). For kicks I reassembled the CD (only two small pieces were never found), taped it up, and mounted it on our bulletin board. The drive itself was deemed a total loss.

I once had a lady with little to no computer experience who was trying to type up an assignment to be E-mailed to her instructor. I showed her how to reply to the E-mailed assignment and showed her where to type. Shortly there after, she came up and asked me to make some more white space for her so she would have room for the rest of it.

My coworker, Crystal once referred to the Blue Screen of Death as the Blue Message of Error.

There's a guy who comes into the lab pretty often, and once he asked my coworker and I how to send a message to a computer across the network, then he told us that he could shut down power to any building in the city of Houston if he wanted too. Then he claimed to be "Neo, you know, 'The One'". Later I had to show "Neo" how to copy and paste a picture into Photoshop so he could make an avatar. He also once told me that by deleting the Startup folder in the Start menu you could render the computer unbootable and have to buy a new hard drive.

An instructor came in one morning asking for help scanning some pictures. I took her over to a scanning computer where she said that wherever she goes to scan things it's always done differently and it gets confusing. To get her into the scanning program I first told her to hit the Start menu. To which she said, "See what I mean?"

On a particularly busy morning, a lady that was working on the first Intro to Computers assignment asked how to make a subfolder. I explained to her that it was the same thing as a folder, just inside the folder she had already made. She still seemed a bit lost, so I told her to just double click on the folder she had already made, then make a new folder in there. She seemed to accept this answer, but around fifteen minutes later came back and said that she still couldn't do it. I went over to her computer to check and discovered that her method of making 'folders' involved going into Word and saving a blank document as the name of the folder she was supposed to make. Yes, she was attempting to use Word documents as folders and she got confused when she couldn't save a document within a document. You kind of wonder if she listens to the instructor at all.

According to Mike there used to be a crazy lady that frequented the lab, she once yelled, "Stop staring at me!" quite loudly while using a computer. He went over and she complained that the thing wouldn't stop staring at her. She was talking about Clippy the MS Office Paperclip.

According to Mike a guy once came in with his computer under his arm, plopped it down and started hooking it up. When asked why he was using his own computer he said he wanted to download some things. Nowadays he works here.

Here's one from the KWC help desk in the library. This lady had bought a 10 pack of floppies and had been told that it was probably a good idea to format them all at once and then just take them as she needed them. Later she was in the library and eventually asked the guy at the help desk to come over and help her. She had managed to jam three floppy disks in the floppy drive and wanted to know where to put the other seven. The help desk guys reportedly had to go into the other room to laugh over it before they regained enough composure to help her.

One Saturday a lady came up to my desk and asked me to move a student to another computer so she could use Photoshop (which is only on a few computers). I went up to the computer in question to find that the student sitting there was not in fact using the computer, instead she was napping in front of it. I woke her up and told her that another student wanted to use one of the programs on that particular computer, so she slid over a spot and promptly went back to sleep. I've always wondered if she knew about the dozen or so couches downstairs.

At 8pm when I close down the lab and trek out to the parking lot, occasionally I will hear the sound of bagpipes drifting down from the woods right off campus. As far as I know there isn't anything back there but woods and a road.

I set up one of our placement tests for someone to take once, it starts off by asking your name, social security number, etc. I was asked by one person taking the test, "Where it says my name, do I put in my name or social security number?"

We still have people come in every now and again desperately looking for a typewriter.

I was actually called into the other lab so I could use my technical expertise to flip on the light switch. I only wish I was making this up.

A lady calls me over to a computer (which was sitting at the Windows 2000 desktop), explains to me how she's "Semi-computer literate" and she's taking an online course over Windows2000 and she just needs me to tell her one thing to get her started, she turns to the computer and asks, "Ok, how do you get in to Windows 2000?"

Sometimes people will come in and ask me if I can help them get their e-mail. Most of the time they just want to activate their school account, but every now and again I'll spend a while getting them into that to have them say they were using a different kind of e-mail, thus forcing me to lead them across Hotmail and Yahoo mail only to eventually have them remember it was an AOL account. ARG!

Lady wanted to go to some site, thought it was a .com turned out to be a .org, upon learning this she exclaimed, "Oh, it's an orgy."

According to Boe somebody once came in, picked up the mouse, pointed it at the monitor and started clicking.

When we got WakeOnLAN enabled and a batch file set up to turn on all the computers in a lab in rapid succession nobody seemed to care. What's wrong with these people? 30 computers pop on all around you with nobody else around and they don't even seem to notice? I mean come on! The sound alone is awesome. I'm sorry that just annoyed me.

As you come through the door to the lab the first thing you'll see is a computer and keyboard facing you with a blue screen and very large flashing letters that say "SIGN IN HERE." People constantly come in, give the screen a troubled look, walk past it up to my desk and ask "Where do we sign in?"

Also, in the event that our internet connection is lost we put up a sign in big red letters next to the sign-in computer to notify people of this fact. I have watched people walk through the door, read the sign, sit down at a computer, load up Internet Explorer, then after a minute or two come and ask me if the Internet connection is down.

Every now and again somebody will be in here typing up a paper in Word and will ask why it's printing up so weird. I'll go over and look and find that they have hit enter every time they come near the edge of the page as if they're using a typewriter.

I got a call from the lady that worked the testing center just down the hall from the lab, at that time they had our extra lab right next door. She kinda mumbled something about data recovery and asked if I could come over and help. I went down there and she showed me to one of their computers and said something about how somebody had been using a CD-ROM or something. Confused, I hit the eject button on the CD-ROM. She picked up the CD, thanked me and left.

Back when I first started working here I noticed a guy who appeared to be looking up porn. I was about to go over and ask him to stop, but he got up first and walked rather briskly out the door, curious I went over to the window (the lab is on the second story and one wall overlooks the large open entryway and the stairs) and saw him flying down the stairs and in the direction of the bathrooms. I decided not to think anything more of the incident. A few minutes later he walked back into the lab and picked up where he left off, when I asked him to do that sort of things on his own computer he claimed that it was for a class. I held back laughter and told him again to do it on his own computer and he left. Later I found out that he actually was doing it for a class.

After work, on the occasion that I'm running low on gas (which happens every 6 days or so), I usually go to this Chevron station right outside my neighborhood. For a month or two there was this one guy working there who was a little odd. When I went in to pay for the gas he would always ask me if I was going to the party. I didn't know this guy, nor did I know of any parties going on, but he would always ask, in his thick Indian accent, "Are you going to the party? Everybody's always having a party! We should have a party." So if you ever see a party going on at a gas station, who knows, maybe he finally did get his party.

According to Crystal somebody was trying to feed a transparency into our laser printer. It went in but never came out, we never did find it.

One Saturday morning I was walking across the parking lot at 7am to go open up the lab for the day. It was a nice morning, the sun was shinning, the sky was bright blue, the birds were chirping and there wasn't another person in sight (I mean come on, who in their right mind comes up to a community college early Saturday morning?). I was walking up the sidewalk toward the building when I suddenly felt as if something had nearly collided with my back. I looked around but of course nobody was around, just some loud bird in a tree. I shook off a sinking feeling and kept walking, soon I felt something go by my back again, this time even closer. I was getting a little weirded out at this point, nobody was around, then I noticed that that chirping bird seemed to have switched trees. I looked the bird in the eye and he stared right back, then with lightning quick speed leapt from the branch and careened towards me. I dodged and he flew up to a tree on the opposite side that he had been on. I ran the rest of the way dodging the homicidal bird the whole way (trust me, he was dead serious). 8.5 hours later when I left he was waiting for me.

Once right before a semester was starting up I looked down from our window at the registration/recruiting festivities going on below. It wasn't as if it was anything real special, but it just seemed wrong that they had a clown helping convince people that this was the right school for them. I found out later she (the clown) was a professor here.

I was once 6 hours late for work. My boss didn't care.

A guy came in with his really young kid (2 or 3 years old maybe), he sat the kid down at the computer next to him and threw up Paint for the kid to mess around with while he worked. I watched in amazement as the kid decided Paint was boring and minimized it and doubled clicked on AutoCAD which he proceeded to mess around with until his dad realized he wasn't in Paint anymore. That kid was pretty impressive.

I once, during the course of helping this one lady, told her to left click. I had to explain to her that a 'left click' is when you tap the left most button on the mouse. She was very excited by this discovery.

Chronicles of the Paranoid Lady

A while back on a Saturday I was getting ready to close up the lab and kick everybody out, unfortunately there was one lady that suddenly realized her car keys were missing. I helped her look around for them without any luck and eventually she started to blame this girl that sat next to her and wanted me to call the campus police which I did begrudgingly. The first thing the rent-a-cop did was search behind my desk, which irritated me, as that was about all he did other than take a statement or something. The next week I saw the lady again and she told me it turned out she had the keys in another pocket. This was when I began to realize she was a harbinger of pain and suffering.

From this point on I saw her every week, she apparently came in to work on children's books of some sort even though she didn't know the first thing about Word (thus I wound up talking to her alot). Eventually I began to realize that, not only was she a source of pain, but she was also absolutely mad. A week or two after my encounter with her missing keys she explained to me how her ex-husband was hacking her school account and changing her grades. Her proof of this was that her zip disk suddenly had nothing on it. I tried to explain that it would be pretty difficult to hack into somebody's zip disk remotely, so she started to blame "that young asian girl who was sitting behind me." I thought about telling her that nobody gave a crap about her stupid zip disk, but I thought better of it.

I was out in the hall in front of the lab on the phone once when she decided to come out and tell me that "that foreign guy over there" had come in without signing in and she believed that he was trying to figure out what times she usually came into the lab to work on her stories. One of the many, vast, problems with her theory was that I noticed that guy had come into the lab long before she had.

When the student network drive fills up (which it often does thanks to all the pirated games that wind up on it) the server starts shooting notices across the network that pop up on all the computers, they just say something to the extent that N: drive is full. Once these messages popped up when Paranoid Lady was working, she walked over to me with a worried look on her face and asked if that meant her work was now in the public domain. I never understood how she came up with that one.

She once explained to me how she had seen this girl that was in the lab at the same time as her down at the post office chatting with somebody behind the counter. Paranoid Lady was there to file her copyrights on her stories and she told me she was just a little worried about that girl being there and she just hoped that nothing was going on illegal there.

She was printing something when she mentioned to me that "they" had gotten her calendar she was working on. Apparently she was working on it from the student network drive and now it was blank. Just because I felt like disproving her theory I went over to look, the Word document did look blank, so I changed the View and everything reappeared.

These are only the specific stories I can remember, but it was pretty much every time I saw her (I saw her an awful lot, too) that she would have another conspiracy theory about people trying to steal her stories, the people involved ranged from her ex-husband to Time Warner to the government.

Near the end of a semester when classes had ended but the lab was still open she came over to my desk. She told me a long story about how she was trying to get custody of her kids and she was currently fighting to keep a roof over her head. And to that end she was selling copies of one of her Christmas poems. Since it was only a dollar and I figured she'd sit back down if I did I bought one. That was the last time I saw her for six months, however she has now returned.