2007.05.05

The Computer Guy

As “The Computer Guy” you never get a break. Mostly people only care about you when something is wrong. When strangers find out what you do they almost always want to talk about computers. Usually theirs. They assume you know everything about computers, which would be an impossible feat. If there was ever a problem with, say, the email servers then the next time their email signature disappears they firstly ask if there is something wrong with the email server, secondly when are you going to fix the problem.

It’s an ungrateful job, but I think I’ve gotten lucky in my IT career. I’ve had a few mostly good bosses and mostly worked in environments where my services were appreciated. Still, it does weather my soul over time and I wonder why I’m at it. My CEO even asked me why I’m in IT. I still don’t have a complete answer, but here’s part of it: I like to help people. In fact I think I need to help people. Maybe it’s an inextricable part of my psyche, maybe even my genetics.

I come from a family that has served others in various capacities. Several members of my family served in the military, one served as a minister, several others have volunteered in public service. In fact you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in my family not willing to drop everything and help you unless you’ve dumped awful tasks on us in the past or tried taking advantage of us.

We don’t expect volumes of gratitude. In fact I’m always surprised and a little embarrassed when people thank me because when I help, it’s just something I do, and I happen to get paid for it. I know that there are a lot of people who burn out on this sort of thing and someday I might, too. Until then, though, I think I’ll stick with it.

(In case you were wondering what brought this on, I happened to run across this article which garnered a lot of sympathy from me.)

2 Comments Categorized: geek  technology  work

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2 Responses to “The Computer Guy”

  1. Jordan says  (May 5th, 2007 at 22:42:23 )

    What makes me cringe the most as “the computer guy” is my family. I can tell 90% of the time as the call comes in from my father that he needs free tech support. He starts with small talk, “how are you doing? how’s life?” and then it will be followed by “ohhh, I’m having a problem with my Treo.” He’s brought his laptop on vacation, not because he needs it, but because he needs me to fix something.
    The expectation to be an expert in all things struct home with me as a Prius driver. When people ask me about my car, I first inform people, “as a driver of a hybrid you are expected to know everything about hybrid cards and inform other people on the differences between all the models.” Often, when asked for advice by someone buying a new computer I say, “I’m not really sure. I don’t buy new computers on a monthly basis. I can tell what was really good three years ago, the last time I did research…”

  2. douglas says  (May 6th, 2007 at 22:52:14 )

    I guess I’m sorta lucky that I come from a family of computer guys (and gals). About the only Luddite in the crew is my Mom and I think for her it’s more that she can’t be bothered with computers.

    I have managed to get people who know me to understand that I’m not a specialist in everything. In fact I’m not really a specialist at anything. Someday I’ll have to work on that…