Accidental IT Pro #4: Caffeinated Customer Care

Our accidental IT pro columnist returns. In today’s episode, Jason discovers one of the pitfalls of back-to-back meetings with clients: extreme coffee consumption.

Coffee picture from Shutterstock

Still employed!

Not only am I still employed, but I think I’m doing well!

I’m slowly getting more and more responsibility, graduating from my “mute scribe” position all the way to “small talker and shaker of hands”, which I think would look pretty cool on a business card. I actually have a decent understanding of the products we sell, and while my knowledge is nowhere close to that of my engineer buddies, it’s what I’ve overheard my boss call “workable”. I guess I’m now the equivalent of an adventurer walking through a foreign land with a dictionary and a phrasebook, rather than the tourist with flash cards that points at pictures and yells English at the natives. [related title=”More Accidental IT Pro” tag=”accidental-it-pro” items=”5″]

The main benefit of this is that I’m allowed out of the office a bit more. Like a bird pushing its baby out of the nest, I have been thrust away from the warm safe mother-office into the dangerous world of coffee shops and business meetings. I’m now contributing to my company in more ways than just eating all the dumplings at yum cha.

I learned the dangers of the outside world the hard way last week, when I had the busiest work day of my young life. The agenda began with meeting my boss at 8am, and then he and I were to meet with potential customers back to back to back until 6pm. I woke up and had a cup of tea, but knowing that the caffeine in my trusty English Breakfast would only go so far, I picked up a large latte on my way into the building. This went down an absolute treat, and I was feeling good about tackling the day.

My first meeting was a short one but a round of espressos was ordered as everyone looked like they needed a pick-me-up. Espresso is far from my coffee of choice, but I knew I would need the extra caffeine to make it through the day so I hiked up my britches and knocked it back.

We set off on the way to our second meeting at a coffee shop around the corner, and we all had a little pep in our steps. The peppiest of steps were mine, as I may or may not have been literally skipping down the road (a professional skip, of course). I was offered a latte when we arrived, and not being one to turn down a free coffee, I accepted. I knew I would need the extra caffeine to make it through the day, and we may not have any more time for coffee after this one!

Feeling energised, a group of us piled into a car and went to the city to meet with our customers. I shook hands and chatted about the weather like it was my job (which it is, more or less), and soon enough the waiter came around to ask for our coffee orders. I didn’t particularly feel like another one, but I crumbled under the weight of peer pressure and soon found myself sipping away at a cappuccino. I figured one more couldn’t hurt, and I knew I would need the extra caffeine to make it through the day.

It was at this point that things began to go awry. It became readily apparent as my vision blurred around the edges and my extremities began to act of their own accord that I had perhaps had a little too much coffee. I soldiered on and made my way to the restaurant where the fourth meeting was taking place, determined to stick to water until I could feel my toes again. You can imagine the despair that washed over my caffeine-addled brain when I arrived to see the largest mug of coffee I’d ever laid eyes on waiting patiently for me at the only empty seat at the table. “Mug” doesn’t even do the vessel justice, as it probably fell somewhere between a trough and a bathtub.

“Here you go mate, you’ll want the extra caffeine to make it through the day!” my boss said, grinning like a maniac.

I imagine the rest of the day’s meetings were a disaster, but I honestly wouldn’t know. While the important people were discussing profit margins and the feasibility of cloud hosting in the Philippines, I was vibrating away in my seat on a caffeine-fuelled vision quest to regain control of my hands. I was technically present at the meetings — I know this for a fact because my notebook was filled with semi-relevant scribbling that looked like a serial killer’s scrapbook — but my mind was elsewhere, focused on making sure my heart didn’t explode out of my chest, no doubt bringing whatever meeting I was in at the time to a dramatic close.

Thankfully I did survive, and have been on a strict green tea regimen ever since. Editor’s note: Green tea is not caffeine-free. Sorry Jason!

Whether or not I “made it through the day” is still up for debate.

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.


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