Why we All Dread That Call to the IT Help Desk

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Apr 04, 2018

by EVAN WILLIAMS

There are certain people in society who possess knowledge that you don’t have and sometimes you find yourself at their mercy.

Lawyers, for instance, have the magical – and highly lucrative – ability to interpret legislation that all the Wikipedia articles 
in the world won’t help you understand. Doctors, too, will always have power over you. Confident as you are in your Google diagnosis, you’ll nonetheless find yourself 
in their surgery, begging for an answer.

But one keeper of knowledge stands high above the rest in its ability to make you feel utterly useless: the IT help desk. No call in an office is as feared as the one to IT support. You don’t want to pick up the phone but you’ve switched the computer on and off three times so clearly you have no other option. As you dial, you remember the horror stories. Bec lost all her emails, even though they were there before IT support came over. They wiped Sarah’s computer 
as punishment for not installing the latest virus-protection update. Yes, they gave Craig a new computer but it took three weeks 
and you’re pretty sure they only did it so 
he would get out of the fetal position and stop weeping.

Nevertheless, you push on.

When the help desk picks up, you 
hear the disinterested tone that uniquely belongs to IT support workers answering the phone. It’s as if the greatest day of 
their life has been cut short by you and 
your query about a slow-moving cursor.

To be fair, the weary tone is entirely justified. Place yourself in IT’s ergonomic chair for a second. Whenever the phone rings, they know, with absolute, 100 per cent certainty, that the person at the other end 
of the line is calling to complain that their screen is frozen. There’s no chance that 
it’s somebody ringing to discuss Game 
of Thrones or what they’re doing for the holidays. It can only be one thing.

Sadly, it’s not the most awkward part of your call. That comes when you try to explain the problem; when you realise you don’t know the appropriate words to articulate your computer issue. You call the “server” the “thingie” throughout.

“By ‘thingie’ do you mean ‘server’?” they ask. “Yes?” you say, never having been less confident about anything in your life. By the end of this exchange, you will feel unworthy of ever using a computer again.

Once the initial conversation is over, you appear so hopeless to the IT support worker that they cease any form of communication. They come over to your desk but only 
to communicate with your computer. Invariably, the issue is something incredibly complicated, a problem worthy of their journey and expertise – like the fact that you didn’t have the monitor plugged in.

Now it’s time for their revenge. As if the process hasn’t affected your productivity 
or demeaned you enough, they would like you to fill out a lengthy feedback form. Preferably while they’re still there, looking over your shoulder.

You may think about protesting but you don’t. They are, after all, from the mighty, all-powerful help desk, the keepers of the secret computer knowledge, and you are 
at their mercy.

You mark the form “highly satisfied”.

SEE ALSO: Do Mindfulness Exercises for the Office Really Work?