Never Question

“I already did that.”


For those not in my line of business, this is a cautionary tale about not telling the tech who is actively working on fixing a problem on your computer that you’ve already done something. Because in the end, you either did it wrong, or something else was broken, making it necessary to redo everything you did, with one additional tweak here or there to make it work right. And frankly, when you say that, like you’re the pro and don’t really need my help, it kinda ticks me off.


My call was from an admin who I’ve helped many times over the years in the tier 2 role. Now that I’m back on tier 1, I seemed to gain some anonymity in our call, because she showed no apparent recognition that it was me helping her.


Java was broken. Not working at all on her computer, and so many internal web-based apps weren’t working. The natural solution is to uninstall Java and reinstall it. It should fix the problem…Normally.


But not when the installer is broken in Windows. It’ll never reinstall properly. NEVER. As soon as she described the problem, though, and I remoted in, I knew what was wrong and knew I’d have it fixed in about 20 minutes. But when I clicked to remove Java, that’s when it started.


“I’ve already done that.” And she’s got that tone. The one that tells you she knows everything, and you’re fortunate that she’s even bothering to let you occupy the same phone line as her. After all, it’s not like once I managed to completely save her ass and get a virus off of her machine remotely. But she didn’t know it was me so she could afford to be attitudinal, I guess.


“I know. But the problem is that the installer’s broken and it won’t install Java properly. I need to fix that before I can reinstall Java.”


Silence. For a brief, shining moment, I was reasonably certain I’d convinced her I knew what the hell I was doing.


“But it said it was installed,” she said, not realizing that believing what Windows tells you is like believing a politician when they tell you they really want to serve the people. Then she stuck her foot in it: “I think Internet Explorer is broken.”


It was right now that I realized I should have left Java on for a brief moment and gone to their website to test it and show her it isn’t working. But I was trying to get things done. I was trying to do my job, in spite of the headwinds on the other end of the phone. So I told her I’ve seen this before (a lot, actually, especially in my tier 2 role, and had mastered the art of this 20 minute repair). Then I lied a little: “If IE is broken, then we’ll have to reimage you, because there isn’t any way to reinstall IE.” That wasn’t entirely true, but it was really close. I’ve done it, but it isn’t fun or easy. Not in our environment, anyway.


I went about my task, launching the fix for the installer, then waiting for the fix to finish about 10 minutes later, and then rebooting and installing Java again.


Oh wait…”Reboot?” I always feel like I’ve suggested offering a child for sacrifice when I tell people I need to have them reboot. Somehow, they’ve managed to put it in their heads that rebooting takes 15 minutes (which is why they don’t do it in the first place), and that it’s a horrible waste of their time. Never mind the fact that when they hit brew on their coffee maker the coffee isn’t instantly ready nor hot; or that the Thanksgiving dinner can’t be completed entirely in the microwave in less time than it takes to make popcorn.


For giggles, a while back, I started mentally timing reboots. Hers was back and ready for me to remote to again within 2 minutes, regardless of her complaints. I remoted back, reinstalled Java and then tested it.


I suppose it’s one of the rewards of the job to fix a problem when the person you’re helping is sure it can’t be fixed or that you lack the skill to do it successfully. At the end of the call, I let her know it was me and that I was back on the phones for now. At least then she admitted that she should have been a bit more patient.


Problems solved.


See you tomorrow.