In what seems more and more like another life, some 15 years ago, I was an assistant in a computer lab belonging to the computer science department of my university. The lab consisted of a bunch of 286 IBM PS/2s with only a 3.5″ floppy drive — they had to boot with an operating system disk and then put in the program disk, and so forth.
One day a student was having problems booting up the computer. I went to see what was happening, because she was becoming increasingly vocal about the quality of the hardware and the incompetence of the people (me) who were supposed to maintain it. I found that she was trying to boot off a floppy with no operating system. So I tried to tell her that she needed a DOS diskette to boot the computer.
* Her: “Why?”
* Me: “Well, because without the operating system the computer just cannot work.”
* Her: “But I don’t need the operating system.”
* Me: “I assure you, you do.”
* Her: “No, you don’t understand, I’ve already passed the operating systems exam. I’m preparing the coursework for simulation theory, so I don’t need an operating system. I already passed. Really.”
* Me: “I’m not talking about the exam. I am talking about the operating system for the computer.”
* Her: “Why on earth should I want to put an operating system on the computer when I have already passed the exam? I need to study simulation theory, not operating systems! The arrogance! Now you want to tell me what I should study? You don’t think I passed the exam on my merits alone? Huh?”
She stormed out of the lab and filed a formal complaint with the department’s secretary. The worst part was that I got reprimanded, because, apparently, the senior management didn’t know any better than she did. Yes, she graduated a couple of years later.