Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Have You Tried Rebooting?

I went to school to be a TV reporter. I worked in public relations for seven years. And then...

I earned a living fixing computers.

Yes, I was Nick Burns.

How did I end up THERE? I have no idea. There were no signs of it in high school or college. I hated DOS at first sight and, even when computers reached the point that we all started loving them, I still had no place working on them.

Confession time: from 1999 to 2013, I lived in fear, DAILY, of help desk tickets. If you don't fix computers, imagine someone handing you a piece of paper and sending you off to figure out someone's computer problem. That was me.

But I faked it. Apparently I faked it pretty well, too, because every time I left a help desk position to take a position somewhere else, I was told I was going to be missed greatly.

Oh, in case you missed it, YES, I left a help desk position to take a position somewhere else...repeatedly. And every time I was promised I would never have to do help desk tickets. And every time, someone, somewhere would decide it was a good idea to put me on the help desk. In my later years, I was put "in charge of" the help desk. But don't be fooled if anyone ever tells you being put in charge of something means you won't be doing that something. Whether you're managing a local fast food joint or heading up a team of engineers, you still will be expected to help your team, probably on a daily basis.

But I digress. My point is, I was never meant to fix people's computer problems. I have no idea what makes these things work and really don't care to know. I love writing about technology and the latest Apple operating system and cool cases to buy for your smartphone--that sort of thing brings out the gadget geek in me. But if you want me to take an iPhone apart, forget it. Not only do I have no interest in doing anything of the sort, the idea terrifies me.

No, I don't know why your printer isn't working. And the good news is, I don't have to know anymore because it's not my job.


  1. Stephanie, you've left behind a reputation as the "go to" person when anything goes wrong with a state computer. The cry, "My computer isn't working--where's Stephanie!" is now answered with "she isn't here anymore—ask her mother." Evidently some people think fixing computers is a gene-related talent, because now it's ask Stephanie's mom, she'll know what to do. This morning I was called to "someone's" office (no names but initials are SH).

    SH: The monitor is wiggling and flashing and the print's so light I can't read it.
    Stephanie's Mom: Reboot
    SH: What does that mean?
    Stephanie's Mom: Turn your computer off and back on.

    SH: It's still doing it! Should I call (Stephanie's replacement)?
    Helpful Coworker: NO! DON'T DO THAT!

    Stephanie's Mom: Hummmmm. It looks like your monitor is going out.

    SH: Can you fix it?
    Stephanie's Mom: Only by giving you my monitor and I really need it today.

    SH: Should I call Stephanie's boss (Director of state IT)?
    Helpful Coworker and Stephanie's Mom in unison: NO! DON'T DO THAT!

    Stephanie's Mom: Why don't you put in a "help desk ticket"?
    SH: I can't, my computer isn't working.
    Stephanie's Mom: You can call them at (phone number of help desk).
    SH: Will "they" know what to do?
    Helpful coworker: If they can't figure it out, I bet they have Stephanie's phone number.


  2. That's hilarious! I think my replacements can figure out what to do about a "wiggling monitor" pretty easily. My replacements have something I don't...access to a bunch of loaner monitors that they can give the person. All I can do is shake my head and say, "Oh...that's too bad. Sounds like you need a new monitor!"

  3. Maybe you just have a gift for helping people with computer problems. You don't actually have to know that much about computers for that because people who knows computers doesn't need to call the help desk and people who do know less than you. Btw nice to see you blogging again =)

  4. We have something in common - I was in PR, too, for 30+ years. But I could never ever, and I mean never help someone fix a computer problem. I'm lucky mine turns on and pretty much does what I want it to.

  5. hahaha yeah I do agree that when someone knows you're good at something they don't want to deal with then all of the sudden you are the IT person for it! I was the "it" person for doing these integration codes that no one else wanted to do because i was "good at it", it sucked! I hated it! good thing you don't have to do helpdesk stuff anymore, cuz yaa that stuff drains the soul for sure! :D

  6. Stephanie,

    I was in IT for 35 years. Oh. How. I. Can. Relate. I didn't do HELP Desk, but I swear I think I did just about everything else. Project Mgmt, Operations Manager, Voice Engineering (what a joke the Engineering part was) and I can't even remember all my titles. You must be ecstatic to be writing full time - and I also wanted to say, congratulations on your book coming out under an S&S Imprint!!!!

  7. Thank you, Donna! I am ecstatic, and it's great to meet another IT person-turned-writer. It really is two different skillsets. I guess in some ways it allowed me to write on the side, since it didn't zap me creatively. (Although fields like project management do have quite a bit of creativity.)

  8. Stephanie!!! so ALL of your time on MySpace, you were faking at your job? lol That's funny. My mom once advised ME to "fake it" at some new job and then learn about the job while being there. Doesn't always work that way, but it's some good advice at least for temporary purposes. You would be surprised at how fast you could learn about computers. I KNOW you have the capacity to do so. Hope things are going ok for you.
    By the way, I am still happily married to Lika. MySpace drama warriors were wrong about us not lasting long, I have been with her for 4 years now.

  9. Congratulations, that's awesome! I never really covered up the fact I didn't know much about computers--and I made it clear I wanted off the help desk for years...nobody really cared! I was able to support the hearing rooms for the last five years or so...and that was more creative. Just moving laptops around and making sure meetings were recorded. Nobody wants to do it now that I'm gone (it's very demanding) but it kept me from having to figure out why someone's printer wasn't working!