Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The IT crowd

I get computers. In fact, I love them. I'm one of those people Obama was, curiously, just warning students not to become - one who is fascinated by and completely engaged with technology. Not in a rabid way; I'm a researcher of products. I will research anything to find the most recommended one by different groups of people of different heights, weights, ethnicities and toe shapes. So when I find a product that is everything I'd dreamed, I tend to stick with it and keep exploring the uses for it as they're developed. Besides, I don't have the budget for Droids and iPads and bears. Well, I could maybe swing a bear.

All that rambling to say that I love computers and everything they can do, and I want to know it all. When I first started blogging, I got so caught up in HTML and CSS editing I felt like it was my day job; I started learning tricks and sharing code with people who did not care. Friends come to me when their machines are 'acting funny'. I'm bemused by that, but still, I'm no tech slouch.

So I really hate it when I have to call IT. The thing is, you always have to call IT. Because office networks are set up to make you stupid and impotent. That's how they maintain control. Fair enough. But if you want me to be stupid about your systems, to call you whenever I need to install a plug-in or retrieve a file that has disappeared into The Mysterious Server, when I do, don't look at me like I'm your dear 126-yr old aunt who all this time must still have been riding her donkey into the nearest town to send a telegraph.

At one place I worked, the tech guy was just like Roy, only much better groomed. He really really really did not want to be bothered by your infernal tech issues. So if you managed to get him on the phone or Oprah forbid, to come to your desk, he was damn sure going to inform you of the depths of your idiocy. Once I tried to log in, but my log-in didn't work. You have no idea how long I sat there trying to access the system with all kinds of tricks and dubious shortcuts, just to avoid Tech Guy at all costs. Finally I had to call him, but apparently I was too stupid to speak directly to him, so he sighed four thousand times, then made me pretend I had said nothing, hang up, and go through Operations, who was presumably not as stupid. Because as someone from Operations, she spoke his language. Not like the people in Projects. We were idiots. So Operations (yes I called her Operations, like the guy from La Femme Nikita), as confused as I, called him and recited the same information. He asked her to put me on the phone. No way. Way.

So we're going through the problem, and he asks me the most inane questions, which I of course pretend are completely reasonable, so as not to anger him. Did you turn the system on? Did you check whether the Caps Lock key is on? Have you changed your password recently? Did you drown the machine in molasses and then smash it into the ground? Because, you know, that would stop it from working.

Finally, he says something that sounds like:

"Ok. Try this: restart in safe mode.
When it prompts you to log in, use the drop down box in the lower right hand corner and select 'Log in As Unicorn'.
Enter your regular username, then as your password enter WhatisLoveBabyDontHurtMeDontHurtMe(underscore)NoMore
Then once you're in, restart in regular mode while solving a Rubix cube.
Now log in as your regular username, password is the name of that in-between member of Destiny's Child that no one remembers.
Now stand up.
Now sit again. Really sit. Don't hover.
Ok. That should work."

Of course, delighted, I let him know when it works. And he responds with something like "No kidding. It's only in the Operations manual" before he rolls his eyes and walks off.

I really don't miss that guy.

So recently, I met a couple new IT people. They're great so far: they smile, engage, speak in full sentences instead of just saying 'server problem' and 'try restarting' at regular 30-second intervals on a loop. But even they have the thing. The thing is that look when they first walk into your office. It's a look that says "I expect you to say the stupidest thing imaginable." I fight it. I relax into it and try to casually appear to know stuff. But the look persists. I suspect I'm fighting a losing battle here.

1 comment:

  1. Speaking as a former tech support person at my university...it's a defense mechanism. Because people really *do* say the stupidest things imaginable, and freak out and call IT before they've even so much as tried to reboot, so it's safer to enter each interaction expecting the person to be the worst kind of tech-idiot who shouldn't be allowed near anything more complicated than a rotary phone.

    tl;dr version: yes, it's a losing battle. Sorry.


Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence