21 September, 2011

I think something has snapped.

The Stress Fiend is having one of her special days. Granted, it's increasingly difficult these days to remain motivated and focused considering it's now been twenty months since we knew Ted E. was leaving and ten months since he actually left (in body - he was absent mentally for several years before that), and his position remains unfilled. Even so, the Stress Fiend almost seems to be making a special effort today.

She starts by abandoning any attempt to reason things through by herself. This would almost be a mercy if it didn't mean that she wanted me to do all her thinking for her, with a bit of mind-reading thrown in on the side.

"What does this client mean? There are two options, and I don't know what he wants me to order!" She looks again at the request that's come through. "Should I buy him this one?"

"We don't need to buy that - we're already covered for it everywhere."

"So I should buy him the other one?"

"Only if it's what he actually needs. He might want the first one, but just doesn't know he doesn't need to order it in."

"So he wants the first one? I should buy that for him?"

"No, because we don't need to buy that."

(The obvious solution to her quandary is to just call the client and ask him to clarify what he's after, but I'm morbidly curious to see how long it takes for this to occur to her).

"So I should buy him the other option?"

"Only if that's what he actually wants."

"Is that what he wants?"

"I. Don't. Know."

She vacillates anxiously for several minutes more before finally accepting that I either can't or won't read the client's mind on her behalf, and settles the matter with a phone call that takes less than a minute.

Exhausted by the ordeal, she decides she doesn't want to do her work anymore and decides to try her hand at technical support. Now ... there are some problems we can fix, because they're known bugs within our organisation and because, apparently unlike a large number of our techs, we know how to use a search engine to see what the solution may be. We don't do tech support - or try not to, at least - because that's not what we're here for and the more time we spend providing technical support to technical support, the less time we're actually able to do what we're meant to do, and the more it's expected that we're here to hold the techs' hands when they get confused.

(If it sounds like I'm being unduly harsh on our techs ... well, possibly I am. But a large number of them still live in the days when their job consisted of replacing defective physical parts, and even the younger ones seem to struggle with the concept that their role moved beyond that a decade ago).

The Stress Fiend knows all this, complains loudly whenever a technical question comes our way, and decides she's going to leap in and solve a recent problem that's been passed through to us rather than the support area it should have gone to, and where I tell her she should send it. She then spends over an hour monkeying around trying to download and compile an installation package that I tell her at the outset isn't what we need, successfully duplicates the lack of success in getting it to work, and then can't get any further.

Unwilling to let the matter go or pass it on to the technical staff who are paid more than she is to deal with exactly that kind of stuff, she decides to phone the software's publisher instead. It doesn't go well. The Stress Fiend isn't good at explaining things at the best of times, and the number she calls takes her to an international call centre.

I go for a walk, and come back to find the Stress Fiend off the phone, but agitated. It's hard to understand quite what she's saying, but it sounds like her tinkering has somehow corrupted or invalidated the license keys used across our organisation. I'm not even sure how that's possible, but whatever she did, she managed to alarm the call-centre people so much they're organising replacement keys and installation discs.

And then she passes the job on to our technical people...

Now she's just sitting at her desk happily blurting out random thoughts as they cross her mind.

"Peri peri sauce! What's the thing with peri peri sauce? Why is everyone making things with it now? I don't like peri peri sauce..."

The worst part is that she seems to expect a response to this.

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