End Users: Please, Don’t Lie.


My last post was all about how I’ve come to terms with my career path: I even like it! Of course, even with things we like, there are going to be aspects that bother us. The following series of posts will explore a few of those aspects that I feel more strongly about.

I don’t know how my screen got smashed. I just closed my laptop lid, went to a meeting, and when I got there, it was just like this!

My computer is completely down! It won’t power on! It’s totally broken!
<show up at desk to find that the space bar on the keyboard doesn’t work>

Yes, End User, I understand. We IT minions can be jerks. The worst of us can be insufferable know-it-alls who make you feel belittled for even uttering the word “computer,” as though you’re somehow not worthy. You feel like the only way you can make us take you seriously is by over-exaggerating the problem. Or maybe you feel like we’re sitting there, silently judging you for clumsily dropping your open laptop lid-first. Or perhaps the coffee spilled, the sparks flew, you panicked. The end result is always the same: “I don’t know what happened. It just stopped working.”

I can only assume that your thought process goes something like this:

Oh crap, did I seriously just do that? Please work, please work, please work… Noooooo, it’s not working. SON OF A… Ugh, I have to call IT. I don’t want to call IT. The only thing worse than breaking my computer is dealing with those people. Sigh… I wonder how expensive that laptop is. I hope I don’t get in trouble for this. Well, those insufferable know-it-alls already assume I don’t know anything. I’ll just tell them I don’t know what happened. Fits their expectations. I’m just an “ignorant plebe” to them anyway. Alright, let’s just pull this rip cord… I know, I’ll just leave the computer on my desk and go to lunch. Maybe they’ll fix it before I get back.

Do you really think that those of us who work with computers every single day have never done something dumb, too? Of course we’ve dropped our phones or laptops. Of course we’ve forgotten to back up our files. Of course we’ve spilled that dark, hot, bitter, nectar of the morning gods all over our poor keyboards (and we were probably a lot more angry about the loss of the coffee than the keyboard). We’ve done far worse than you ever have, because our capacity for screwing up is so much greater. I know a guy who accidentally deleted an entire pool of servers in VMWare by accident. Shit happens.

What makes me upset is not that you accidentally broke your computer. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. What makes me upset is when you lie about it. Do you understand how long I spend troubleshooting problems just because you left out some critical piece of obvious information? It’s so bad that I almost have to assume you’re lying to me, now.

The funny thing is: most of us don’t judge you. You have a particular skill set, we have ours. I’m always pleased to find computer-competent end users, but at this point, I don’t expect any of you to really know the difference between your desktop tower and your Windows desktop, where you store a copy of every single file on your computer. I don’t need you to know anything about computers. I just need you to be honest with me.

Here’s the other thing: you won’t get in trouble. If every employee got into trouble for breaking equipment, there wouldn’t be anymore employees! Accidents happen. Mistakes are made. The business knows this, and while it tries to do what it can to encourage end user responsibility, it also (if it’s smart) budgets precisely for these kinds of accidents. Just like you budget to get your car fixed or to do basic maintenance on your home.

Trust me, you can’t possibly screw up worse than we can. You don’t have access to the truly critical systems that can cause the most damage. And even if one of my Desktop brethren makes you feel dumb for not noticing that pen on your keyboard before you closed your laptop lid, don’t let him ruin your day. He’s almost definitely done worse.

So please, please don’t lie to us. Just tell us what you did. We’ll fix it faster, you’ll get better service, and chances are that we’ll actually respect you a lot more for your honesty than we will for your cover up.

Because here’s the last thing you need to know about being in Desktop support. We know. We always know. You’re not fooling anyone.

So you might as well just tell us the truth.

#desktop-support, #end-users, #lying