When you work in tech support, most of your customers are actually fairly reasonable, even if they aren’t very computer-minded. Not everybody “gets” computers, and even if you don’t know how to use yours beyond checking your email and trolling for cyber ass, I’ll still be okay with you as long as I don’t hear any of the following sentences come out of your mouth.
3. “Do I need to be at my computer?”
Yes, you need to be at your computer for us to solve your fucking computer issue. How lazy do you have to be to think this is a legitimate question to ask? This is the guy who reads the instruction manual for his new washer and dryer and calls Kenmore to ask how he’s supposed to turn it on when he’s all the way in the living room.
It doesn’t even take that much common sense to realize that at some point I will probably need you to be near the thing we’re trying to fix. I like to imagine this person walking to the mechanic’s garage when his car breaks down and saying, “Yeah, it’s making this weird noise whenever I hit the brakes. Wait, should I have brought it in?”
2. “Isn’t there a faster way to do this?”
I want you to consider the implications of asking this question for just a moment. This means you think it’s possible that I have multiple, equally-plausible solutions to your issue, and I decided to go with the one that takes the longest just to waste your time. What have I done to make you think I’m that much of an asshole?
This also exposes a weird dichotomy among certain computer users. On the one hand, they think computers are dangerously complicated traps where one wrong keystroke will send your bank information to al-Qaeda along with nude photos of your wife and a list of all your fears. But once a problem arises, they change their mind and decide that computers are so simple, no fix should take longer than it took them to compromise their personal information on Facebook this morning.
1. “But I’ve never had this problem before.”
Imagine you’re a doctor. A patient comes in saying he just had a motorcycle accident, he’s unable to walk on his right leg without causing terrible pain, and you can actually see the femur sticking through the skin. You begin to explain to him what will be done to fix his broken leg when he cuts you off: “Oh, it can’t be that, I’ve never had problems with that leg before.”
If you were House, you’d launch into a brutal, witty deconstruction of the patient’s personality that would somehow trigger an epiphany about the episode’s A-plot, but even a real doctor would probably at least call the patient a “fucking idiot” under his breath. When this patient gets home and finds that he doesn’t have Internet access, he won’t accept that it’s the router because he’s never had problems with the router previously, and if router problems haven’t happened before, they can’t be happening now. It’s possible this is because he subscribes to a cyclical interpretation of chronology where it’s technically impossible for anything to happen for the first time.
Or maybe his doctor is right and he’s a fucking idiot.
All of these user behaviors demonstrate one strange phenomenon: that some otherwise intelligent people don’t know how the fuck to act when a problem involves a computer. It doesn’t matter how smart they are during every other moment of their life, the sight of an error message on a computer monitor causes them to lose every bit of reasoning evolution ever gave them.