So here's what I want to talk about today. I want to believe that everyone is part-geek. Let me explain specifically what I mean. I'm good with computers and networks and all sorts of other things for one main reason. I enjoy the challenge (most of the time.) I like the feeling of satisfaction when I get things working again. I recently moved from the Geek Squad to IT / PC Support at the University of Utah's Department of Pathology. It has been great for my commute and my overall quality of life. I also run into less asshole customers at my current job and I'm never expected to go into a Best Buy store to attempt to help fix their poor leadership (not all Best Buys have crappy, lazy leaders, but many do at this point.) Sorry for the tangent. I guess moving to my new job has just helped me realize that there are two types of people: people who will not let problems defeat them and people who hand their problems off to other people. Let's start with a few of the tickets I completed recently at work:
I had a ticket where the guy wrote his own batch file to open all the programs he needs when he gets in to work. It was pretty simplistic and I'm not a programmer by any means, but I thought it was pretty cool. When he upgraded to Windows 7, four of the programs no longer launched when he ran the batch file. He explained to me, in detail, exactly what he had done so far and I remotely accessed his computer to take a look at the batch file with him. With a few tweaks, I was able to get one of the four programs running again and I explained to him why that one wasn't working. At that point, he thanked me and said that he would get the other three running. He wanted to see if he could apply the same principles he had just learned from the one I fixed. I closed the ticket.
Several tickets I've received recently had NOTHING to do with hardware (which is the department I'm in.) Some of them barely had anything to do with the person's job. We received a ticket recently for an iPod that wouldn't charge in ONE of the front four USB ports. Here's the problem I have with a ticket like that:
- There are three other USB ports on the front of the computer that WILL charge it. Pick one, dumbass.
- An iPod that you brought in to work is NOT an ARUP asset. We are not required to troubleshoot anything about it.
- I fix computers for doctors and technicians that are performing tests to try to diagnose illnesses and save lives. Interrupting me with bullshit like your iPod is getting in the way of that.
My final issue with this ticket is that the person was put out when we told her that she was on her own. Seriously? Go figure it out yourself. I guess that's the difference between myself (and the person I described in the earlier story) and other people. As far as I'm concerned, a geek is anyone who will ask for advice but wants to learn and fix their own little life issues. People like the girl in the second story are assholes. That's the choice I see. Be part-geek or part-asshole.
I understand when there are times that someone needs to just hand an issue over to someone more competent than themselves. There are lots of reasons that this may be the case. If time is of essence, it's probably better to hand it off to someone who can fix it quickly. If the problem is way over your head, it's probably a good idea to have someone else fix it while you watch (and hopefully learn.) My problem is with people who run into a problem and their first thought, nearly every time, is, "who can I hand this problem off to?"
I try to be self-sufficient as much as I can. I'm not the greatest handyman, but I've fixed several small problems around my house when they've come up. I fixed my TV the last time it stopped working. I fixed my AC the last time it stopped working. When my showerhead stopped functioning like it should, I got a new one and installed it. I was able to eventually fix my dishwasher the last time it had an issue (though I still kind of wish I had called someone to fix that one.) When anything tech in my house goes down, I will resolve it myself. It doesn't matter if I've seen the problem before. There are times when I ask for advice or help. There are times when I need to call in someone who knows more than I do. Those times are RARE.
So what can you do to be part-geek? Take on life with a desire to learn and conquer your life's small challenges. If you think you can do it or fix it, even if it will strain you, take a shot. If you need to call someone in to help, learn from it. If it's a problem you don't want to deal with and you'd rather just let someone else take care of it... pay them in some way.
That last sentence deserves its own paragraph so I'm going to talk about that for a little bit. There are SO many people that I barely know that think, for one reason or another, that I owe them favors. I try to be a nice guy when I'm not annoyed or busy, but thinking that because you're in the same church as me or you vaguely know my parents that I OWE YOU ANYTHING is RIDICULOUS. I got a call that went to voice mail a while back from people that vaguely know my parents. They are assholes to my parents and to other people. They explained how they have a virus and figured I should go over and fix it for them. No offer of money, no gratitude for what they wanted me to do, not even an offer of chocolate chip cookies (which I have been known to work for in the past if people are nice enough about it. Chocolate chip cookies are almost always delicious.) They think I owe them. Let me go on record right now saying that I don't owe anyone shit right now unless I've said otherwise. I'm willing to help people I know and people I'm on good terms with, but please keep in mind that my weekends are pretty important to me.
That's about all I have to say on that subject. Join the rank of the geek and stop being a lazy asshole if you are one. One more thing I want to cover. I have considered making an e-mail list where I e-mail out one tech tip a week and possibly throw in a little history and stuff about promos on my books from time to time. It would mostly be for free weekly tech tips though. I don't really know if that would be useful or helpful to anyone, but please let me know (here, Facebook, my email, where ever) if you would value something like that. Have a great weekend.