For seven years, I have worked in the Information Technology industry. Part of my job was to provide technical support for people that really should not be working with computers at the first place. It was more like babysitting technical challenged adults.
Granted, most of people’s computer skills have improved with time, but there are always the last few dinosaurs that are still struggling with modern technology. On many occasions, I have thought about replacing their keyboards with fake keys painted on wooden planks and to see if they would ever notice the difference.
Out of the thousands people I have supported during my so called IT career, I have never had a client tougher than my own mother.
Ever since high school, I have been my mother’s personal 24/7 tech support. When mother calls, I would dreadfully answer the phone and hoping she is calling for something else. Yet, time after time, it was for the same list of things, can’t connect to ISP, email is crapping out, can’t print, or the scanned images are showing upside down. Not to mention the hundreds of hours I have spend to covert Chinese DVDs to NTSC standard, so my parents can watch them in their Region 1 American DVD player.
Unlike working in a professional environment, where I can stop by the client’s cubical, do my job, and leave. A job that usually would only take 15 minutes would end up being an hour or so with my mother.
Why? It is because all mothers like to talk. Talk about what exactly? I have no clue, because I always zone out the exact moment she finishes describing her technical difficulties to me. There are times where the subconscious side of my brain would register bits of her rambling and replay back to me.
My latest adventure was installing a DSL modem for my mother. After years of cruising the information superhighway at lightning fast 56Kbps (interestingly enough, older people drive slowly on the highway too!), my mother finally decided that she wants more speed. It is about time, especially when the computer I built for her has so much potential than what she is currently using it for (AMD Athlon 3000+, 1 GB DDR400 RAM, 80 GB 7200 RPM Hard drive, nVidia GeForce4 256 MB video, Soundblaster live! Audio, DVD/CDRW, etc.).
I don’t know if this is a common thing among older people, they seem want you to tell them everything, even when all the information they wanted are packaged neatly in a pouch labeled “Instructions” or “Users Manual”. I am guessing by having a live person read out loud from a booklet is somehow satisfying for them. (Well, at least I didn’t have to wash the feet of one diabetic great-aunt. ha ha, this one is for you, Andrea!)
After ten minutes of playing with the DSL modem, I could not get a solid connection. Mother’s buyer-remorse set in and she panics. There is nothing worse than talking to the telephone company in one ear, and having your mother talking to you at the same time in the other, especially in “machine gun Chinese”!
Eventually the problem was solved, but for the agonizing 11 minutes and 53 seconds, I have lived through hell.
Unlike any other job, this one, I can’t just submit my resignation and walk away.