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Coffee Break: How to ask the IT guy to help you out

June 4, 2009

by Emily Meinhardt
Coffee Break: How to ask the IT guy to help you out

As part of our summer edition, The Forum will be bringing you a new series called Coffee Break. Think of it like 8:27 Procrastination, but for internship distraction rather than paper writing procrastination.More than dumb videos, however, we'll be bringing you tips on how to survive your new professional environment and make it back to CMC with your sanity intact.

So the IT guy at your office might not be the nicest guy—I know first hand from experience. Well, it’s understandable that he’d be grouchy all day, tending to the old-man-who-should-be-fired-especially-during-a-financial-crisis-but-the-firm-won’t-because-he’s-around-forever who calls him to ask him how to print from Microsoft Word, or the person who calls in with a problem that could be fixed simply by restarting the computer.

Last summer, the computer at my workstation had a special problem that interfered with my work. Nothing is more annoying than a popup ad appearing on one’s screen when browsing the internet, particularly a popup with images of strangers in coital positions.

Such was my predicament. The first time it happened, I hastily closed the window, lest my colleagues see it and mistake me for a sex-crazed intern. I assumed I had clicked on a link accidentally on one of the websites I was browsing (those ads on the Times website, tsk, tsk). Then it happened again two minutes later. And again. I have never seen so many titties in my life.

I decided things were getting out of control and finally decided to call the IT help desk. After all, the computer had been slow since my first day, and according to my colleagues, my workstation has always been problematic. I felt special. I was the one who was finally getting help for this computer. I felt like I had stumbled upon an injured bird and the only conscientious pedestrian who decides to take the bird to the vet.

I picked up the phone to call the IT people when a coworker looked at me and shook her head.

“That computer’s been slow even before you came, sweetie,” she said. “No one’s dared to call the IT guys because they get upset when they have to fix stuff.” You’d think the IT guys’ job was to fix computers…

Except the IT people weren’t so happy to help. Virus scan after virus scan, spyware scan after spyware scan, the IT people did everything possible to try to get rid of this parasite but nothing could convince this $%$#% to get the (&^(&^@ out of my #@%&*^% computer. The IT people then tell me that they have to reformat the hard drive; the virus infecting the network and destroying everyone’s computer was a possibility. Incidentally, that was not something they wanted to deal with. Before they replaced my computer, I was reprimanded: Please don’t download anything or go to non-work-related websites.

I was deeply distressed by this. I do not download anything at work and the only non-work-related websites I go to are legitimate (the NYT and such). I do not view porn, nor do I download music. Why must I be blamed for the actions of the former occupant of my work station? After enduring a summer of computer issues and being teased for (not) looking at porn, I came up with a list of tips on how to handle the tech issues.

  1. Don’t call the IT guy until you really, really need help.

  2. If you do call the IT guy, don’t call him more than twice during your internship.

  3. Every time you see the IT guy in the elevator or on your floor, smile and say hi to him. Find out what his name is so you can say “Hi Steve!” instead of just “Hi!” (This makes a huge difference.)

  4. Don’t call them for seemingly important but not life-threatening things. For example, if they misspelled your name in your email address (e.g. if your name is spelled Steven and the email address they give you is don’t complain. You will have to endure people misspelling your name but that’s character-building. Grow a pair. They didn’t fix my email address for me last year. “You’re only going to be here for two months,” they told me. Keep your two-call allowance for more important problems. Like if there’s smoke coming out of your monitor.

  5. If the IT guy does something for you, bring him a small token of appreciation the next day. Bring him a cupcake or maybe a candy bar with card.

  6. Don’t look at porn at your workstation or look up lyrics.

  7. Bring in your own laptop if you can.

Next time you face a computer problem, ask yourself “Do I really need help or can I live with the fact that (insert problem, e.g. cursor is missing, can only print to the printer on the sixth floor, etc.)?” The choice is yours.

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