Inexplicable equipment failure

English: Picture of a laptop running a present...

English: Picture of a laptop running a presentation using presenter’s view. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As anyone in sales will tell you, preparation is key, so I was glad we had taken the opportunity to meet up before the presentation. I was in pre-sales and the prospect was a defence company not far from GCHQ. There was a handy garden centre just outside the facility, and it was there that the salesman and I went through a dummy run of our dog and pony show.

By and large, he was happy with my presentation and apart from a few minor cosmetic changes, we were good to go. We finished our tea and I packed away my laptop in good time for the meeting ahead. Security at the site was pretty strict and it was a good job we had left plenty of time. After half an hour or so, we headed through the labyrinthine passages to the meeting room.

I immediately set about plugging my laptop into the projector, knowing from bitter experience that they could be quite fickle and it takes time to get the laptop and the projector to agree on a suitable resolution. I hit the power button on the laptop to fire it up, and nothing happened. Strange, it was working perfectly half an hour ago. I plugged in the power supply, still nothing. I removed the battery and replaced it – nothing.

Panic set in. People were filing into the room for the presentation. Having exhausted all of my rudimentary problem solving skills, I gave our IT man back in the office a call. He’d know what to do – he always does. But he suggested exactly the same things I’d already tried. Out of desperation, I tried them again – to no avail.

The salesman, usually a calm, stoic force in a chaotic world started to get nervous. “What’s wrong?” he whispered to me. “I don’t know” my tense reply. “It was working half an hour ago” he insisted. After another 5 minutes of frantic fiddling, for no apparent reason – the thing burst into life.  My relief was palpable – I think I kissed the laptop.

When I returned to the office, I related the tale to a colleague and he told me that the exact same thing happened to him when he visited the same prospect a couple of weeks beforehand. All we can imagine is that there is some kind of equipment in the area (maybe as part of the security checks) that temporarily knocks out laptops.

Inexplicable equipment failure.

Why is it that the DVD player in the car never works after a trip to St Ives? Why when I visit Athens does my phone run ultra hot and run out of charge in no time flat? Why is it that whenever Mrs B. tries to get the laptop to do something, she ends up all hot and bothered. Why does the mother in law’s laptop inexplicably tune into the wrong wireless router even though I have been up there and obliterated all trace of that machine from the config?

I know some people who can’t wear watches because they stop working and no amount of winding or battery changing will persuade them into life. Whichever piece of electrical equipment my brother touches has a very finite lifespan.

There are some powerful forces at work and I have no idea how they work – all I know is that they cause inexplicable equipment failure.

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