February 22, 2006

Cable Modem

One of the things I'll sorely miss about my job (which I technically still have, by the way, but check back in a few minutes, I'm sure something will have changed by then) is talking to the help desk. We have a good help desk at my company, maybe even a great one. For one thing, we don't farm the tech support out to India, WHICH IS MORE THAN YOU CAN SAY FOR WHAT WE DO TO YOUR CONFIDENTIAL HEALTH INFORMATION.

Rajeesh says he's sorry to learn about your diverticulitis, by the way.

(Checks to see if fired yet.)

Okay, where was I? Right: The help desk. Good guys. They put up with a lot, too. Medical transcriptionists--oh, let's not beat around the bush here: They tend to be older women and they tend to be technologically retarded, but in that frustrating, perpetually-apologetic way that makes you feel as if you've just yelled at your own grandma when you try to help them. So you don't want to be mean to them, but yet sometimes, you're just like, "How could you possibly do something so stupid, Grandma?"

In that vein, here's a little story I had from one of the guys at the help desk one day:

The guy's connecting to this woman's workstation via PCAnywhere, right, to help her out with something, and he's asked her way back at the beginning of the conversation, of course, whether she has a high-speed or a dialup connection.

"Huh?" she said. "I don't know. How do I tell?"

"Well, do you have a cable modem, or do you connect through your phone line?"

"Oh!" she said brightly, comprehending. "I have a cable modem."

So the guy gets on and things are going really, really slowly. So slowly he's starting to wonder about that cable-modem business.

'Ma'am, this seems to be a very slow connection--" he begins.

"Oh, it's always like this," she interrupts. "It's real frustrating waiting for the next job to load sometimes, if it's a long one. Could you maybe do something about that while I've got you?"

The guy tells her, that's the thing: He can't make her connection go any faster than what it's built to go, and by the way, is she SURE she's got a cable modem?

"Oh yes," she says, "I'm sure. I checked."

This goes on and on until somehow or other the guy's able to verify that he's on a dialup connection. And then, feeling understandably injured at this point, he asks the woman why she would be so cruel as to tell him she had a cable modem when she clearly didn't.

And she says, "But I DO have a cable modem. There's a cable coming out of it RIGHT HERE."

Ba-da bump! Thank you, I'll be here all week.

I'm sure gonna miss those guys.

Posted by Ilyka at February 22, 2006 03:57 PM in in praise of idleness

I feel your pain. And the help desk's pain as well. I work for a home-building company (not a construction company -- we're the company that hires the construction companies) and we are trying to get all the companies we use to start using this computer program to download house plans and upload pricing bids. (Both the companies and the program will remain nameless because I can't afford to lose my job right now.) Anyway, we're talking carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and the like... many of whom, shall we say, are struggling with concepts like English. And that's just the native English speakers... Anyway, it's been fun, to say the least, to get them to understand things like... learning to use their email program, learning to use a mouse, not being afraid to touch the computer... And guess who's the one they've put in charge of adding new members and so on to our group list.

Excuse me, I feel a migraine coming on.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at February 22, 2006 04:14 PM
And that's just the native English speakers...

Fucking righteous as always, Andrea. That made my day.

Posted by: ilyka at February 22, 2006 04:26 PM

I am the world's worst teacher. I hate, hate, hate computer problems. They make me crazy. Still, I have been chosen to be the family computer person. I do it for the love because there surely aint much else in it. Someone would have to throw a ton of money at me to get me to do IT or Helpdesk for a living. I've seen logins and passwords taped to computer monitors. Maybe two tons of money but only if I get a license to kill. Your Grandma thing is a home run.

Posted by: Rob at February 23, 2006 04:17 AM

Ahh, yes.

I've done tech support.

ANd I hate office politics.

I used to think that a lot of those stories about dumb users were just that, stories.

Now when I hear those stories I just nod and say "F****ing A"

Nothing quite takes the cake, though, to a call to go on-site at 2 AM to resolve a problem of "I can't sign in at all" (which is a big issue for a hospital ER admissions/registration application), and find out the problem was a monitor that had was turned off.

And then to have the same thing happen again, 3 days later.

And, 'cause of the labor mix involved, you had to be very diplomatic in how you dealt with the overnight employees, so the tone of voice of the question "Is the monitor turned on and plugged in?" was extremely important.

As important was the face-to-face discussion I had with that staffer about how normally all calls on the overnight shift were *supposed* to be logged by me (because I got paid for the overnight calls, and any travel incurred), and it would not look good for *them* if I logged any repeat calls of that nature and it would not look good for *me* if it was found out that I had not reported the calls, such as I had not reported the one that evening.

Did I tell you I hate office politics?

Posted by: Craig R. at February 28, 2006 10:36 AM