Whiteboard wins

The other day we ordered a large whiteboard for our office.  The board arrived some time later, complete with a bunch of whiteboard markers and whiteboard eraser.  Gladly we put it up and started writing our plan for the world domination.

A few moments later, when we tried to do some corrections, we realized that we can’t really eraze much from the whiteboard. Hmmm.

Marker theory check.  Are all of them marked as “whiteboard markers”?  Yes.

Marker practice check.  We tried to write something with each one of them and then tried to delete it.  Only greek could have been erased easily.  Turned out that four markers (black, blue, red, and green) were from a total of three different brands.  Red and blue were from the same maker.

Because we were rather pressed on time, we covered the whole whiteboard with green text and diagrams.  Then we called the bookshop and asked to bring us more markers of the same brand with green.  People in the bookshop were rather puzzled by the request, but confirmed that we will receive more markers the next day.

The guy that brought the markers tested them on the board and saw that they could have been easily erased.  Then he tried the other ones and saw that it was almost impossible to eraze them.  Then he asked for a knife.

It was our turn to feel puzzled and confused, but we found a knife for him.

… five seconds later, it was our turn to feel really stupid.  Apparently, the whiteboard was covered with transparent plastic film to protect its surface.  It was absolutely invisible and looked and felt exactly like the whiteboard surface itself.  Once the film was peeled off, the new shiny surface of the whiteboard was revealed.   And, of course, all whiteboard markers – old and new – could be used normally.  We tested them all and we could eraze everything easily.  The magic moment!

I would like to take this opportunity and thank the guy from the bookshop, who solved a big problem of ours, and … didn’t laugh in our face, like many would do in a similar situation (tech support stories anyone?).  As a matter of fact, he didn’t even smile.  I bet he had a blast once he left our offices, but that doesn’t matter, because it was, indeed, funny.

5 thoughts on “Whiteboard wins”

  1. Respect to the guy.

    Do(did?) you actually laugh then users ask you about anything stupid? Me, personally, never. Maybe aftewards between some IT friends – It becomes funny only in this kind of society.

  2. Tiamat,

    I try my best not to, but sometimes I can’t help it. In turn though, I don’t mind very much when someone laughs at me. We are all humans and we all do silly things once in a while. :)

  3. Ha ha ha reminds me of the classic often forwarded email… could google to find it…

    This is a real story that happened between the customer of General Motors and its Customer-Care Executive. Please read on. The Pontiac Division of General Motors received a complaint:

    ‘This is the second time I have written to you, and I don’t blame you for not answering me, because I sounded crazy, but it is a fact that we have a tradition in our family of Ice-Cream for dessert after dinner each night, but the kind of ice cream varies so, every night, after we’ve eaten, the whole family votes on which kind of ice cream we should have and I drive down to the store to get it. It’s also a fact that I recently purchased a new Pontiac and since then my trips to the store have created a problem.

    You see, every time I buy a vanilla ice cream, when I start back from the store my car won’t start. If I get any other kind of ice cream, the car starts just fine. I want you to know I’m serious about this question, no matter how silly it sounds “What is there about a Pontiac that makes it not start when I get vanilla ice cream, and easy to start whenever I get any other kind?” The Pontiac President was understandably skeptical about the letter, but sent an Engineer to check it out anyway.

    The latter was surprised to be greeted by a successful, obviously well educated man in a fine neighborhood. He had arranged to meet the man just after dinner time, so the two hopped into the car and drove to the ice cream store. It was vanilla ice cream that night and, sure enough, after they came back to the car, it wouldn’t start.

    The Engineer returned for three more nights. The first night, they got chocolate. The car started. The second night, he got strawberry. The car started. The third night he ordered vanilla. The car failed to start.

    Now the engineer, being a logical man, refused to believe that this man’s car was allergic to vanilla ice cream. He arranged, therefore, to continue his visits for as long as it took to solve the problem. And toward this end he began to take notes: He jotted down all sorts of data: time of day, type of gas uses, time to drive back and forth etc.

    In a short time, he had a clue: the man took less time to buy vanilla than any other flavor. Why? The answer was in the layout of the store. Vanilla, being the most popular flavor, was in a separate case at the front of the store for quick pickup. All the other flavors were kept in the back of the store at a different counter where it took considerably longer to check out the flavor.

    Now, the question for the Engineer was why the car wouldn’t start when it took less time. Eureka – Time was now the problem – not the vanilla ice cream!!!! The engineer quickly came up with the answer: “vapor lock”.

    It was happening every night; but the extra time taken to get the other flavors allowed the engine to cool down sufficiently to start. When the man got vanilla, the engine was still too hot for the vapor lock to dissipate.

    Even crazy looking problems are sometimes real and all problems seem to be simple only when we find the solution, with cool thinking.

Leave a Comment