These stories are not compatible with the following conditions:
- full mouth
- full bladder
- injured abdominal muscles
- sleeping household
- workplace that frowns on uncontrollable giggling
- failure to see the humor in sarcastic commentary on drastic errors of spelling, grammar, and clue
- weak lungs
I seem to have become the default Tier 0 Tech Support at work. The other day (was it Friday? Monday? the days blur together) I was seating the 1pm shift (Oh. It was Monday. The day they didn't give me a seating chart until, um, later. Again.) and J---- B----- was having trouble with her monitor. The image was all warped. First I did the smart thing (look for a reset to factory defaults toggle), then I did the dumb thing (fiddle around with it trying to fix), then I did the smart thing (set all controls to 50%, no matter how wacked it looks in the process of doing so). She let me know that I'd definitely earned my pay today.
That one is the home of the unforgettable line from Tech Support: "Sir, have you put any cheese or mustard in your a: drive?"
At work I also get to deal with the phone goons and their transcription of the answers that the respondents give to the open-ended questions that some of the surveys ask. Some people write well, and their open ends are a joy to edit. You eye them over, find a careless mistake perhaps every ten questions or so, fix that, and send them off to the back room for whatever it is they do to them.
Some people are not so good. One young man does not seem to know what an apostrophe is. Another person has a few words they can't spell.
Some people are just dreadful, to the point where I recommended to the Stressy College Chick that the Very Loud Temp with the Mustache and plaid shirt never ever be put on a survey with open ends again, because he can't type, can't spell, and -- well -- I'm tempted to make his nickname for the purposes of this journal Charly. (He doesn't get taunted that I know of, and we haven't got any mice. His passions seem to lie in fixing cars and interacting with people; I hope he finds a friendly auto shop to work at.) So whoever's editing open ends has to extract meaning from the hash of language that he's committed to the system. (The other name for that? "Falsifying data." On a good day, I can reach through the mangled words and figure out what the respondent was trying to say, because I'm just awesome like that. On a bad day, not so much.)
We have some formatting requirements. One job requires "perfect edit", which is to say the sentences start with a capital letter, are otherwise lower-case except as required, do not have probe marks, and generally look all polished. Most are standard format, which is all upper case, with the equals sign to indicate where the phone goon has "probed" (asked for more details or for clarification) the answer. One would think that this would be an easy format to abide by, especially as the phone goon is given the opportunity to edit the open end after the call. But ... no.
It was on a day when I had been reading a series of open ends written by monkeys banging at keyboards that I found a gem of an open end, edited in the exact correct format, with perfect spelling and even a properly used semicolon. I said a small prayer of thanks, opened up a new telnet window, looked up the phone goon's name from the user ID number, and prepared a small stickytab of gratitude. It featured a gold star, and read, "For proper use of semicolons." I left this in the phone goon's booth. I have done things like this before. The late lamented David B---- was the shining star in open end editing on the "Copacabana" survey. (Not its real name.) The star on my note eventually made its way onto his timecard.
The Rinkworks site has sentimental value for me. Darkside and I spent a happy morning reading over it together once upon a time. I sent him a link to the misadventures of George. I feel certain that the cockles of his black heart will warm upon noting that he is that much less alone. (Darkside is a black-hearted bastard when it comes to people he doesn't care about, and I really ought to acknowledge this more thoroughly when I speak of him. Other people behaving stupidly and making his job that much more difficult features prominently on his pet peeves list. He's sour, opinionated, grumpy, irate, bitter, nasty, and annoyed when dealing with the world in general, and entirely sweet and wonderful to his closest friends. And I'm one of them and you're probably not. Hee, hee.)
I often get to be the one to send out the nightly e-mails to IT about the things that the computers are doing that they oughtn't. I have taken to keeping a list on my desk, one that I call "Booths Behaving Badly". It uses all the sorts of shorthand that I use here and in my personal hardcopy journal, and very little of the formality that the workplace expects. Handing this sheet over to a co-worker so that they can crib off it for writing up the e-mail? "Joan! 'Booth 82, Naked network jack'?! I can't write that! ... 'Booth 231, wtf'?! I can't put that in either!"
I keep wanting to include all this subtle wit and not-so-subtle sarcasm when I do these nightly missives, so that IT knows that there's someone out here with a brain as well as a pulse, but since we have to run all the e-mail outbound from the department past the Shift Ops Super for editing and approval before finally sending it (gee, our department has had the best coherent/relevant e-mail in the company for some years now, wonder why) not much of that makes it through. I'm still proud of the one I slipped by when there was a spate of errors on shutdown, with an error message that went something like OLEMainWndThreadLogName could not [blah blah blah] on about half the computers in the building. The first day, I went and typed it out once and copy/pasted it for all of the booths having problems. (Havening?) The second day, I typed it out once and then wrote "Same OLE error" for all the other booths having the identical error.
This time, one of our phone goons reported a bad keyboard in booth 53. I took a look at it. Working just fine. I went back to the phone goon and asked her what was wrong with the keyboard. She told me that ctrl + alt + del wasn't working. I was incredulous, but went back to the booth, because the possibility of her lying to me was beyond the realm of the practical. I'd done the three-finger salute one-handed. I tried it with both hands, just for laughs. And wouldn't you know, no response. I quickly isolated the left control key as the problem. My writeup, as drafted: "Booth 53: keyboard out. Left ctrl key is dead. This presents an insurmountable obstacle for some of our less tech-savvy employees." Amazingly, the phrasing was approved by the Pink Shirt Guy and sent on to IT.
There are some days I just love my job.