The entry-level helpdesk technician looked at the clock: 4:55 PM. Five minutes until clocking out and getting a ride from her date. She was dressed up a little nicer than normal. Nothing too fancy, since it was a work evening, but it’d also been a while since they’d gone out anywhere. Just as she was starting to daydream about dinner, the Eville Medical helpdesk phone rang: “IT… this is Sammohini!” “Yeah, hello, just a quick question.”
The clock on her timesheet program read 4:56 PM.
“So, I was wondering, my computer shuts off randomly, and it happens a couple times a day, could I have someone stop over and take a look at it to see what might be going on with it, to see maybe if there’s a problem that can be fixed right away since it’s affecting my work since I’ll be right in the middle of doing something, and I’ll be just plugging away at my work only to have it crash on me, with just this one computer, too, there are other computers where it works just fine, but with this one, in particular, it doesn’t work out quite as it should, it- it’s in desperate need for repair and although it’s not an urgent need, we think it’d be nice to have someone stop over right now and take a look at it because it also affects everyone else’s abilities to do their work and it’s kind of annoying, and it’s kind of in a nice part of the department, since the patients can’t see what’s on the screen, and there’s enough time for us to click away from reading the news if the charge nurse is making rounds, and so what it does is it just- uhh, the screen cuts out, and it blanks out, but I guess if we hit the screen, it goes back to working out OK, so maybe it’s not a big issue-“
She was getting so hungry she could barely keep track of the conversation.
“-so I told my husband about how the computer was acting up last week and he works in IT as well, you see, he’s a project manager for a construction company that handles some of the bigger contracts in the area, and he says that maybe one of us should call IT so we can get it fixed and so I told him, I said, ‘you know what, Stefan, you’re right, I should call IT about this, and we should have someone come out and take a look-” “Hey, sorry to interrupt. What’s the computer name?” “Oh, uhh, is that the name on the big box? If so, it’s, one minute please, let me-” “Sorry again, I need to clock out, let me transfer you to my coworker, sorry about that.” “No, it’s no problem at all, I’m just- wait–“
Sammohini placed the call on hold.
“I’ll grab it. Enjoy your date!”
“IT, Nessa speaking. Yes, she had to clock out. Yes. Understood…”
|Sources: My professional experiences. Random Letter Generator set to randomize a yes/no answer [setting: 1 spin, letters: yn] helped decide if the short story was going well. Sammohini’s colleague’s name was randomly generated, too.|
|Inspirations: Too many last minute calls like this to count, even in environments where the helpdesk hours were clearly labeled. This specific short story was inspired by a recent conversation, except instead of a date, I was able to break out of the call which wasn’t going anywhere and wasn’t my problem to fix by saying I needed to catch a bus. Otherwise, I might still be on that call. It’s this lack of respect toward helpdesk people – forgetting that they’re people – that is surprisingly common. Especially when people are providing a service, like serving your dinner or bagging your groceries, it seems like most people think of these tradespeople as meat robots. That’s fine. I don’t demand incredible degrees of respect. Just basic human decency is fine. I forget sometimes, too.|
|Related: Somewhere in the Sammohini Arc of “The Story.” More specifically in the early third of the arc.|
|Photo: Hazy Seattle skyline.|
|Written On: August 21st [30 minutes]|
|Last Edited: August 21st [0 minutes]|