I recently found the transcription of this conversation which took place several years ago. It was not funny at the time, but looking back on it now in my retirement, I find it amusing – I probably recorded it because I felt so frustrated. My matric class was studying a particular film and their double lesson of English was the best opportunity for them to watch part of it. Anyone who has planned any kind of presentation will understand that feeling of helplessness when one is let down by technology. I switched on the computer and the data projector … nothing happened and the precious minutes ticked by. Leaving the class to discuss an aspect of the film that we were intending to focus on, I hot-footed it over to the IT department and approached the chap manning the Help Desk:
Me (M): The lamp appears to have blown on my data projector.
Help Desk (HD): Your lamp?
M: Yes, I got one of the boys to check the red flashing light. It is definitely the lamp.
HD: Your data projector is old.
M: It was one of the first to be installed. I need to use it now. Do you by any chance have a spare lamp? [Silence] Or should I find another classroom?
HD (biting his fingers and rolling his eyes): Your data projector is very old.
M: It is, but do you have a spare lamp for it? I need to use it now.
HD (cupping his chin in his hand and shaking his head slowly): I don’t think so. The projector is so old you see.
M: So you’re saying I should find another classroom? I have a double lesson of film study right now.
HD (biting his fingers): Let me check with the manager. [He disappears down a passage and returns with the IT Manager (IT)]
IT: Your data projector is old.
M: It was one of the first ones installed. Are you able to help or must we move to another classroom?
M: Now. I have a double lesson of film study with the matrics.
IT: When does it start?
M: It’s already begun, but if there’s no spare lamp –
IT (turning to Help Desk, who is still gnawing on his fingers): Stop biting your nails!
HD: I’m not biting my nails!
IT: What are you going to tell your children when you grow up?
HD: I’m biting the skin. I’m not biting my nails.
M: Can you help or shall I move to another venue for my film study lesson?
IT: When is it?
M: Now. It’s already underway and I must get back.
[Some rapid-fire dialogue takes place between IT and HD. IT cuffs HD on the side of his head.]
IT: Get on with it!
HD: We’ll sort it out.
Near the end of the first lesson HD turns up with a spare data projector which he set on the table … a lot of fiddling takes place … he pulls books from the shelves to balance it on to gain some height, focuses it and at last the lesson can go ahead more or less as planned.