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The Helpless Desk


If you don’t want to be replaced by a computer, don’t act like one. ~Arno Penzias

My work PC died last Thursday. I was smack dab in the middle of creating content for my upcoming leadership training course when the machine froze. I tried to reboot a few times to no avail. It would get just so far then stop. There was no indication that it had stopped other than the cursor flashing on the screen, hypnotically blinking on and off, giving me vain hope that something would happen, a miracle perhaps, and the machine would come back to life. Just a minor glitch I was hoping, one of those bugs that strike at random times which a couple of reboot attempts would clear out and all would be smooth sailing. Nothing happened except the continuously flashing cursor. I broke out in a cold sweat knowing what lie ahead of me – an encounter with the IT helpless desk. A quagmire so debilitating that one phone call is enough to suck the will to live right out of your body.

I could have played Jesus and rose my PC from the dead but, at my company, all PC work must be administered through IT.  Nothing in my work world is so frustrating as calling the helpless desk and this call was no different. It ended as I had expected. Sorry, we cannot help you because you have a Windows 7 machine and we only support the 10+ year old Windows XP platform. You will need to call your PC manufacturer for a replacement hard drive because it is still under warranty then reinstall the software on your own.

By the time I was able to have a new hard drive installed and the machine reconfigured, I had lost a day and a half at work. Luckily, I had just backed up my data the morning before the crash so I was able to recover everything I had created but was not able to get back an important website I had found which was going to be a big help for my training program.

As I was going to access some company websites with my resurrected computer to do some management activities, I discovered my SmartCard, my electronically encoded company ID card, had been disabled because of issues with attempting to log in on another PC during the day and a half of the dead computer. The IT provided tools would not unlock my card so I had to call the helpless desk again. Sorry, your SmartCard cannot be unlocked because it is an older model. A new card will be sent to you in the mail.

When will I get my card?

Sorry, I cannot tell you how long it will take.

I need my card to do my end of year work and I will be out of the office after Thursday. When will they mail out my card?

Sorry, I cannot tell you how long it will take.

To paraphrase a quote my dear, departed dad, “The IT helpless desk is a wart on the ass of progress.”

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