A laptop computer was sent by courier to military headquarters in Pretoria for testing in battlefield conditions. The laptop survived shock waves from being in close proximity to shelling; it survived burial under a heap of rubble from an explosion; it survived being knocked off a table in a tent on the simulated battleground. In short, it passed the test with flying colours.
But then the machine had to be sent back. Due to cost-cutting measures (too much of the military budget had gone to foreign arms deals, you see), it was decided to use the South African Post Office instead of a courier.
But when it got to the other side, the laptop was smashed beyond repair.
Clearly, war can't compete with the SA Post Office in terms of hazardous duty.
Except that this story has been told about several post offices and postal services around the world.
Like this comment in an article* in the British newspaper, the Sunday Herald, dated 12 September 2004, about Parcel Force,one of the top express parcel carriers in the United Kingdom:
Tales of Parcel Force's incompetence are legion. It is probably apocryphal, but we like the one where a laptop computer was sent to the Army for destructive testing in a battleground environment. The computer managed to survive the Army but Parcel Force broke it while delivering it back to the manufacturer.
For good measure, the article included another gem:
After weeks of trying to trace a missing item, a Parcel Force woman phones the customer and says: "I've worked out what the problem is. The driver's a twat."
(* Thanks to Brian Chapman for the clipping)