Hopefully her day got better after that incident.
Yes, you are hearing things
Another time, a user called about an odd buzzing sound coming from the computer. They had no idea what it was and needed help figuring it out.
I arrived at their office and started checking out the computer, playing with the volume, and looking for CDs in the drive. I didn't hear anything at first. But then I too heard an odd, muffled buzzing sound. It seemed to come from underneath the user's desk. I waited a bit longer; sure enough, I heard it again -- and once more, it seemed to come from underneath the desk.
There was nothing else to do but crawl under the desk to figure it out. When the sound came again, it seemed to originate from the drawer next to my ear. I opened the drawer and found a pile of pocket pagers. This user was the admin for the employees' pagers, and one of them was in buzz mode.
We joked about one of the gizmos getting paged and got a good laugh out of it.
How about more storage, please
We got a ticket one day that was quite puzzling: The user was running out of -- get this -- monitor storage space. I looked at the ticket again and figured they meant storage capacity. But according to the user's record, there was plenty of unused disk space.
Confused, I walked over to the user and asked what was going on. She turned on her computer, and I was astounded to see her 20-inch monitor packed with icons -- wall to wall, edge to edge. She showed me how she had no space to add more.
Apparently, she'd decided to store all of her music on the desktop. Why not? According to her thought process, that was the easiest place to put it. Thus, she had run out of "storage" on the monitor and was asking for a bigger, 24-inch monitor so that she could "store" more stuff.
I had to work hard to keep a straight face after that last request. But I pulled it together and walked her through the basics of the desktop, folders, and how storage works. Of course, I explained the policy about not storing music on the company's machines and helped her remove the MP3 files, thus freeing up disk -- and monitor -- space.
To her credit, she seemed to grasp the concept of storage and how to organize her files, and she thanked me for explaining it. Her desktop was remarkably uncluttered from then on.
After a certain number of calls in a day from demanding or panicked users, it's easy to start getting stressed out yourself. When there's a completely unexpected reason for a problem, it can sure liven up a long workday -- and many to come.
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This story, "Do you speak tech? Communication breaks down at the help desk," 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.