Know Your Desktop Support Person

Wandering the Portland farmer's market last year with Abby & David, we stopped to taste some sausage. Behind the seller was a sign that proclaimed, "Know your Butcher." It wasn't surprising that hippie, wholesome Portland was advocating the local food movement.

The other day my co-worker and I contemplated the professional corollary, the value of knowing your IT help desk person.

Calling desktop support at the office, I first provide my employee ID number, once they find me in the system, they ask for the computer's number, "the asset tag number." I've provided nearly twenty digits at this point before sharing that I can't open two excel spreadsheets at one time.

I miss the small company model where I knew my IT guy. I called him "my" IT guy!

Whether it was Rich or Steve, I'd see him in the hall and be able to say hi. They'd actually come to my desk, sit in my chair, and helpfully observe things like I could really use a full version of Acrobat and not just Reader. While the new fix downloaded, I'd ask, "What was that keyboard shortcut you just used?" or "How come the server is called Maude? Have you thought about naming the servers after famous authors, like Salinger, Hemingway, or Faulkner? Or maybe using the alphabet, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie...?"

It turned out to be dumb-luck, but my boss later told me that Steve was a short wave radio junkie, so he was probably charmed by my alphabet idea...which might explain why there was no complaint when I asked to hook up a scanner brought in from home. (Typically unsupported equipment.)Nowadays, in the big corporate world, I don't know the support desk person's name. They "remote in" to my computer. Suddenly the arrow on the screen dances seemingly on its own as they take control of the machine. "Here I am!" the person on the phone will announce. I've sometimes had to argue with them as I watched them try to uninstall stuff like Google toolbar. "Don't touch that! I use that everyday! Seriously! STOP!!" grabbing my mouse uselessly to try to regain control.

Usually I just wait quietly as they fiddle and I tidy my papers and files. It's so anonymous.

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