I told them I'd be there in 10 minutes and rushed out the door, food stains and all. When I walked into the clerk's office, two people were hovering over the computer. They saw me, smiled in relief, and thanked me for coming over.
One said, "We tried to print, and it didn't work, so we kept trying it again and again. Here, I'll show you." He reached to hit Print again, but I stopped him, seeing an error message atop the printer icon at the bottom of the screen.
"Hold it, let's take a look first. See this printer icon? Let's open the printer queue." I opened the folder and saw about 18 items in the list, most of them repeats. The very top item in the list showed an error.
I deleted the top item in the print queue, and the printer roared into action. They were pleased and surprised when I was able to fix their problem so quickly.
I've been called to the clerk's office to assist with tech problems many times, but that's my favorite incident. Their desperation turned to admiration in a matter of minutes.
With any profession, you have to draw boundaries between work and the rest of life -- and IT is no exception. Right now I'm glad to help while my schedule and energy allows, especially since I may not have the opportunity in the future. No matter what, it boils down to respect: If a person respects my time and skill, it can make all the difference in the world.
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This story, "Naughty and nice tales of off-hours tech support," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.