"Some men are discovered; others are found out."
BELIEVE IT OR NOT
by D.W. (Del) Stables
This hilariously funny article was first published in "Maggie"
issue 13. Their editor, Chris Holland, kindly allowed for this
article to be re-used.
Why have I called this article 'Believe it or Not'? .... well,
having been requested by several readers of "Maggie" 11 to give a
few more funny, but true, stories of the things I encountered
from some people who came into my retail computer software shop
(before I went mail order only) I decided, particularly as this
article is intended to grace the Christmas '93 issue of "Maggie",
to keep things funny and jovial in an attempt to brighten up the
end of what has proved to be yet another year of trade recession
here in Britain.
I sometimes believe that it is only by possessing the gift of a
sense of humour that most of we mortals survive at all! Thank God
for those customers (or potential customers at least) who used to
lift what might otherwise have been a most dull and uninteresting
day in the shop by either using their wit or by coming out with
the most hilarious statements or requests. Understandably, it is
these type of people I can recall with clarity from years,
sometimes many years, ago while those who used to be clever and
somewhat arrogant in their dealings with me I have little or no
Apart from the spoken 'howlers' which I witnessed, some of the
funniest events were in the form of written 'howlers' having been
part of the contents of some of the many letters I used to
receive (and still do!) on the mail order side of my business. I
think I will deal with these written funnies first:
LETTERS REGARDING COMMERCIAL GAMES (OR OTHER MATTERS!)
First, four from overseas ...
'Please. My English is much not. Is your my country speak much
not? I put in lines what I am want. I put in not monies at this
yet. I wait see if it is. If it is I speak so. If it is not I
speak no. I wait now if want come soon.'.
(I sent him a Catalogue Disk...let him sort it out!)
'Sometime on disk I see one then another. I not see different on
some disk. Do YOU have many of some different? I have only a
little different and wanting more than this different. If you get
different I can have some. I will send then different if it is
not with you.'.
(Loves that word 'different' doesn't he...? Anyway I sent HIM a
Catalogue Disk too!)
'I am wanting pubic friendship with English ST person...'.
(I think he meant PUBLIC domain swapping...at least I hope so!)
This overseas client had kindly forwarded a stamped, addressed
envelope for my reply...a fact he mentioned at the end of his
letter... '...I have stamped on the envelope. I hope I have
stamped on it correctly. If I have not please stamp on it
Now from nearer to home ...
Dear Sir, If you will please send me "Terminator" for the STE I
will forward the money when I get my dole money next week... (I
didn't send it you may be surprised to know!).
Dear Sir, I am returning this disk ("Chase HQ") as I left it on
the floor and our Labrador chewed it. Is it possible for you to
re-copy it or something?... (The disk in question was so
toothmarked and mis-shapen that there was no way in which anyone
could have got it into the diskdrive!).
Dear Sir, When I was on holiday in Blackpool last week I came
into your shop and bought "Lotus Espirit" for the ST.
Unfortunately, I was leaning over the railing on the sea wall
while the tide was in and it fell into the water. There was no
way to go down the wall and as the water level was far below us
we couldn't fish it out in any way. We waited for ages until the
tide turned and went out hoping the box would be left on the
sands but the waves took the box out to sea before the tide went
out. I remember that you put a receipt inside the box which had
your shop's address on it. On the off-chance that another tide
brought the box back in to shore and somebody opened it and found
your address and handed it in to you, perhaps you could forward
it to the above address and I will gladly send you your
postage... (Now you might find this hard to believe but that box
was never seen again...unless someone in Ireland or on the Isle
of Man or perhaps even across there in Sweden or Norway got
themselves a free "Lotus Espirit" game complete with soggy
cardboard and seawater!).
Dear Sir, When I was on holiday last week I came to your shop. I
didn't buy anything as I don't have a computer. I am wondering if
you found a plastic bag (green) with handles. You see I left my
childrens' balls in it and they were upset when they realised
they had lost them cos you can't get those kind of balls where we
live and although we are coming back to your town next year for
another holiday I don't want my kiddies to have to wait that long
to replace their balls... (There's no answer to that one really
Dear Sir, While visiting Blackpool on holiday recently I came
into your shop. You may remember me, we had a chat and I told you
that I had just bought an Atari ST in my home town of ------
(censored...Del). I did buy a pack of ten blank disks off you but
when I got them home and opened them there were no instructions
with them. Could you please forward the instructions . I enclose
a stamped, addressed envelope...(I replied and referred the
customer to his Atari handbook!).
Dear Sir, Can you help me? I sold my Amiga and purchased one of
the new Atari STE's. With games being the price they are I did
not part with my Amiga games as I had paid up to £25.00 for some
of them. Unfortunately I just cannot get them to run on the STE
and I cannot understand why as the Amiga took a three and a half
inch disk just like the Atari STE. .... (The gentleman's name is
not being disclosed in order to protect the innocent!).
To the Owner, Do you buy second-hand modems? I have only had it
for just over 5 months but our telephone bill has gone up from
between £45.00 to £55.00 a quarter to over £390.00! I didn't get
it from your shop but I do think that the man at another shop who
sold it to me should have told me just how much more they put on
your 'phone bill!... (I didn't buy it!).
Dear Sir, I have just got an Atari STFM 520 and I have "Hyper
Paint" too. I am not very good at drawing or painting and
wondered if you have any programs which will draw and paint for
me... (The answer just had to be no!)
Dear Sir or Madam, I used to have an MSX which I sold to get an
Atari ST. I have over 100 games in their boxes (only little boxes
because as you know they are all on tapes). I don't know if you
do exchanges with games but if you do I will accept 25 full-price
games for my MSX ones (that is 4 MSX games for 1 ST game). I
might even take 1 ST game for every 5 MSX games, it depends on
the titles...(I bet he would!).
Dear Sir, I saw your advert in a magazine for Public Domain
disks. Do you send PD disks out on approval? That way I could try
them first and return any I don't like with the money for those I
do like. Don't think that I would copy them or anything like that
and then send them all back to you saying I don't like them.
Please reply soon... (I did...NO!).
Dear Sir, I am having to return 4 of your Public Domain disks
which will not load on my Atari 520 STFM. I know that they are
listed in your disk catalogue as being '1 Meg' but I thought that
you meant the disk drive had to be 1 meg and mine is but the
memory isn't... (It's not all that easy running a PD/Shareware
library...that is just one of many similar letters!).
Dear Sir, I visited your shop last Saturday afternoon while on a
day trip to Blackpool. Perhaps you recall me, we chatted about a
disk drive for the C64 and I purchased the game "Trivial
Pursuit". Unfortunately I left my spectacles and case in one of
the shops I visited but cannot remember which one it was. I know
it was in your area. If it was your shop and you found them
perhaps you could forward them on to me. It is most important
that I get them back as I can do nothing without them and can
barely see my hand in front of my face... (For ages after I
wondered...how the hell did he manage to write that letter?).
(Reminds me of the guy who walked up to the optician and the
optician raised his hand and said 'Don't tell me Sir...let me
guess. Yes...you need those spectacles with quarter inch thick
lenses and extremely close contact vision!'. The man said
'That's marvellous! You haven't even examined me yet! How did you
know that?'. The optician said 'I knew it the minute you walked
through the window!'.).
THE THINGS PEOPLE SAY ..!
There follows a small selection of some of the remarks made over
the counter of my shop by people of various ages...
Man, after standing for some considerable time studying the
various games on my wall and counter racks in 1992... 'They don't
seem to be bringing much out for the VIC 20 nowadays do they?'.
'I've never been much good at spelling so I bought myself one of
those word processors...but it's no better than I am!'.
'I think one joystick's just like another...they're all
knackered in about a week!'.
'My lad's been on about Amigas...he's after one. He's been going
on about it using a mouse and all that but I told him... you've
got along fine for five years with your Spectrum and that doesn't
even need a mouse!'.
Young boy, with mother, lovingly eyeing an STE on display in a
glass showcase... 'Look Mum...that's an Atari I told you about'.
Mum... 'You're not having one...you can get germs with them!'. (I
tried to explain to her what a virus was but she informed me that
she was 'not going to take any chances, particularly as there is
a new baby in the house!').
A young boy, about five, seemed determined one day to climb the
outer face of my glass counter to get on the top so I drew the
attention of his mother and father who were looking at games on
the shop wall to this. The mother turned and shouted at the boy
'If you fall off that counter and break your legs don't come
running to me!'.
My son's only ten but he's an absolute genius on the
computer...give him any game you want and he can play it!'.
'Oh yes...it's a good game, but I can't get away from the
octopus... t keeps killing me with its testicles...'.
'I can truly say that I don't believe in buying copied
disks...I've never had a single one...by the way you don't happen
to sell the manual for "Deluxe Paint III" by itself do you?'.
'I bought one of those cheap second disk drives for my ST...it
was about as much use as a one-legged man in an arse-kicking
A young lad about 8 talking to me in the shop... 'I'd love an
ST...I think I'm getting one in December for Christmas...I told
my mum about them and she said that it would be a cold day before
she paid out all that much money for a computer...'. (I just
couldn't tell the poor kid!).
A snippet of a conversation being carried on in the shop between
two young schoolboys...
1st boy: 'My dad's got an Amiga'.
2nd boy: 'My dad's got a PC'.
1st boy: 'My dad uses an art program'.
2nd boy: 'Well my dad uses a word processor and a laser
printer...and at work he is the boss of the computer section
and he's in charge of all the important programming and he's
got over 30 people under him...'.
1st boy: '...Well my dad's completed level 2 of 'Robocop'!'.
(No contest ..!)
'I'm new to computers...do they ever need oiling at all?'.
'I've just got an STE...how do you get it to talk?'.
'My wife won't go near my computer...she says it frightens her
after all those science fiction films on TV...'.
Lady customer: 'I can't understand why it doesn't remember
anything when it's switched off...after all we dream when we are
asleep don't we...'.
With my shop having specialised in Atari hardware and software
the Amiga owners who came in were often taunted by some of my ST
fanatic clients, for example ...
'I've a real soft spot for the Amiga'.
'Yeah .. it's called a swamp!'.
'You've never had a good word for the Amiga you haven't!'.
'Yes I have...crap!'.
'I got a new joystick for my Amiga last week'.
'Bloody hell...that was a good swap!'.
'I'm upgrading my Amiga soon'.
'What are you doing...swapping it for an Oric?'.
'I was working on the Amiga till 3'o'clock this morning...'.
'Did you finally get it going?'.
'I've just joined the local weekly Amiga club... 'm meeting the
other members on Thursday night'.
'I hope you like him!'.
'There's a lot to be said for the Amiga...'.
'What can you say about the Amiga that hasn't already been said
about blocked drains?'.
'There's no way you can compare the ST with the Amiga...'.
'Was you father a weightlifter ..?'.
'He must have been to have raised a dumbell like you!'.
'I do everything but go to bed with my Amiga...'.
'You want to try doing that too...that's all it's fit for!'.
(A very subtle one that!)
A young man was looking at a large boxed game one day in the
shop. 'Why do they have such a big box when inside it there's
only a small instruction leaflet and a little disk?', he asked.
Jokingly I said, 'Perhaps it's so that there will be plenty of
air in there to let the disk breathe...'. To my surprise he
studied my reply thoughtfully for a while and then said, 'Well
why do they seal the disk in a small plastic bag then?'. (It
was later that I discovered that his friends called him
'Bungalow'. I asked one of them quietly 'Why do you call him
'Bungalow'?'. 'Simple...', came the reply, 'He's got nothing
ANY CHANCE OF FIXING IT?
In each of the following cases the owner of a 'damaged' computer
presented himself at my shop counter with the computer in his
hands. I add a brief extract from the owner's explanation as to
what had caused the damage...
'My little brother pushed a big biscuit into the diskdrive when
I wasn't there... I've pressed the eject button but all it does
is crumble it...'
'I was taking it downstairs and it slipped out of my hands and
bounced all the way to the bottom...can it be mended?' (He was
carrying a box with about 20 assorted pieces of computer in it!).
'I dropped a glass of fruitjuice onto it and the keys don't seem
to work now...the joystick's not too clever either...'.
'I was cleaning my desk and I put the computer on my swivel
chair while I wiped the desk top...just then the phone rang and I
forgot and sat on it. The chair swung round and I ended up on the
floor...so did the computer...as I slipped I grabbed out to save
myself and ripped the leads out of my monitor so that doesn't
work now either...'.
'The disk didn't seem to want to go into the diskdrive so I gave
it a thump...I hadn't realised the disk was upside down and now I
can't get it out...'.
'It got damaged in the furniture removal van when we were moving
house...a wardrobe fell on it...and when the men moved the
wardrobe one of them let his hold slip and it fell on it
'Can you clean the inside for me...my mum was cleaning my
bedroom window and spilled her bucket of water on it and now it
won't light up!'.
'I was just sitting there using it when this huge piece of
plaster dropped from the ceiling... some of it hit me on the head
but most of it landed on the keyboard and shattered...'.
'It was strapped to the seat behind me on my motorbike when I
swerved to miss a cat and came off...I ended up in a hedge but
the computer didn't...'.
'My dad said that if he ever again came into my bedroom at
2'o'clock in the morning and found me playing on it he would
throw it against the wall...well he did...I was...and he did!'.
'It was on the front passenger seat in my car when the bus hit
me on that side...it's a bit buckled...'.
'One minute it was on top of the wardrobe and the next minute it
was on the floor!'.
(Oh boy ... some folks have all the luck ..!)
NOW WHAT WAS IT CALLED?
Some of the customers to my shop just could not remember the the
title of the game they wanted...sometimes with very funny
results! Judge for yourself...
'You know...it's that game where fire comes out of the back of
the 'plane...'. (It was 'Afterburner'!).
'...and if the man gets enough balls he changes!'. (This one was
'...It's an adventure about a man and a native church in the
jungle...you must know it!'. (This was 'Indiana Jones and the
Temple of Doom'!).
'Now what was it my son asked me to get?...(lady)... What do you
call those men who come out and tow your car home if it breaks
down?'. Me: 'The AA'?. Lady: 'No...'. Me: 'The RAC ..?'. Lady:
'That's it! Lombard RAC Rally!'.
A middle-aged gentleman spent a few minutes at my counter one
day urgently trying to recall the name of the game he required
for his grandson. 'I know it's something to do with faulty
wiring...you know, electrical things breaking down...'. It
transpired that he was looking for the game 'Short Circuit'...
Then there was the lady who came in and said that she wanted
'Ghostbusters' for her son who was at school. I showed her the
box but she said, 'No! It has to be the proper one!'. Just a
little puzzled at this, I showed her 'Ghostbusters II'. 'No...',
she said, '...that's not right, he wants the PROPER one!'. We
decided between us that it would be better if she brought her son
into the shop when school was over. She did so later in the
day...and the game he wanted? It was 'Real Ghostbusters'!'.
One of my favourite stories regarding folks who could simply not
bring to mind the game which someone else had asked them to buy
for them concerned a lady who came into the shop one particularly
busy Saturday afternoon when most of my Amiga and ST regular lads
were browsing through the various games for their respective
The lady stood glancing around the wall display units at the
games and was obviously most uncertain about matters. I asked her
if I could be of any assistance and she replied, 'It's my son's
birthday tomorrow. He has an Amiga and he has his heart set on a
certain game and I have come in to get it...the trouble is I have
forgotten was it's called'.
I asked her if she knew what type of game it was...was it a
recent release or an older game, etc. She hesitated and then
said, 'Actually it isn't just one game...it's two games in one if
you know what I mean. One is about that steel American policeman
and the other is one of those 007 spy games...you know...Sean
Connery was in the films...'.
By this time all my regular teenage customers had become most
interested and began to try to help the lady by reeling off the
names of the various James Bond 007 films which had a computer
version. 'You Only Live Twice?'. 'Licenced to Kill?'. 'The Spy
Who Loved Me?', but all to no avail... the lady just kept on
shaking her head and sighing 'No...'.
We all of us persevered however, until suddenly and without
warning the lady pointed excitedly up towards a large box game on
my top shelf. 'That's it!', she almost shouted, 'That's the one
All eyes followed the direction in which the lady's finger
pointed. For a moment there was absolute silence in the shop
before the lads began to rock with laughter...the game in
question was...'James Pond II - Robocod'!!
There was one instance where I just could not bite my lip but
had to grin from ear to ear. An elderly lady came into the shop
and explained that she wanted a game for her grandson but had
forgotten what it was called, except that '...It's about those
little animals who go to the edge of a cliff now and again and
toss themselves off...'.
(Yeah...it was 'Lemmings'!)
Well, that's enough for this issue...if you would like more
'howlers' in future issues DO let us know because believe me...I
have a barrel full!
Del (D.W. Stables)
P.S. If any of you reading this article would like our latest
Atari STFM/E PD/Shareware Catalogue Disk please forward
Atari PD and Commercial,
PO Box 78,
Lancs, FY1 6AD
(Overseas clients please include International Reply Coupons)
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.