Our accidental IT pro columnist returns. In today's episode, Jason shares a few sketches from his 8-bit bestiary depicting creatures that are commonly encountered in the IT wild...
Business animals picture from Shutterstock
For the last few weeks, my work has made me far more office-bound than it had in the early days. I don’t mind it so much, as it makes me feel like I’m actually getting work done as opposed to being a slimy salesman, meeting and greeting my way around the city leaving a shiny slug trail in my wake.
Part of my entry-level peon job is to answer the phone when potential customers call up needing our services. In my experience so far, there are three main categories of caller:
The IT Veteran:
This man or woman tends to be someone that really knows what they’re talking about. They know the problem, they know what they need, and it’s the easiest call for me to take by far. They are usually IT Managers or Network Engineers that don’t have the expertise in their teams to solve whatever specific problem is at hand. At first I was a little intimidated by the IT veteran, fearful of their keen IT senses sniffing me out, but lately I’ve found it more productive to be open about my lack of technical knowledge, explaining that I’ll answer their questions as best I can but I may need to have a chat with an engineer to give them any real detail.
The Crazy Small Business Owner:
More often than not, this person declared themselves Chief IT Guru of their small business, and calls us to fix whatever mistakes they made when they tried to install and configure their own system. I once got a call from a customer who had done just that, and warned me to “make sure you send someone that knows what they’re doing. I configured this myself and if they fumble around I’ll know”. My favourite one of these conversations ended with “don’t worry bro, we’re good for the cash”. I still don’t think we’ve been paid.
The Little Old Lady:
My favourite phone call to get by far. The Little Old Lady is quite often a PA to some big shot CEO that we’ve done business with in the past, but they can also be the wife of the Crazy Small Business Owner. The Little Old Lady knows what she wants, but tends to be extremely polite and up for a good chat about the weather, which is sort of what I’m best at. The Little Old Man is an uncommon variant but is equally adorable.
I’ll hopefully be able to add to my bestiary of customers in the coming weeks.
Another benefit of being office-bound for the past several days has been that I get to really capitalise on my newly acquired tactical desk position. I feel like I have the freedom to take on tasks in the order that I choose, and I don’t have to feel like someone will be angry with me if I take a few minutes off to watch a video on YouTube while I drink my coffee. I tend to work best in short, focused bursts, and the freedom I have lends itself extremely well to that sort of work.
On the other hand, it has sometimes become a bit too easy to get distracted. I was taught my lesson last week when I was watching streams of the E3 Press Conference, possibly not working as hard as I should have been.
I was in total secret agent mode. Laptop tilted, headphones in, when all of a sudden my boss’s voice erupted from directly behind me.
“How about that Sony conference?” he shrieked, as a monstrous clawed hand clapped me on the shoulder.
My hands were a blur of ALT + Tabbing, but it was far too late for that. The jig was up. When I turned around, however, I was genuinely surprised to see my boss smiling back at me earnestly, far from the rage-monster I expected.
I’ve known this for a while, but it was at this moment that it finally clicked: it’s not about simply working for 8 or 9 hours and then going home. I have a job to do, and if I do it and do it well, then people aren’t going to mind if I take a break every now and then. I’ve only been working full-time for a few short months, but I can’t help but feel that this is how work should be, and definitely not the clock-watching exercise that some people treat it like.
“I reckon we’ll need a couple of PS4’s for the office!” I offered.
His eyes narrowed suspiciously.
“Get back to work.”
Accidental IT Pro is a new occasional series where Jason Dean (not his real name) shares his misadventures as he tries to climb the IT career ladder.