April 13, 2011

The Help Desk Catchall - A Call From The White House

It was an average day at the City/County government help desk.  The afternoon was getting long in the tooth, and the mid-day witching hour was quickly approaching.  3:00 PM is about when you should start preparing for the tin-foil hat callers to come out to play.  And oooh boy, did they ever this day.


It's not longer after 3:00 when I get the first call.  It's this very gruff sounding man telling (not asking) me that he needs to talk to the CIO.  He didn't ask for him by name, but by title.  Red flag number one.  Know the guy's name.  That tidbit sent the needle on my snarkometer creeping skyward.  Included here is my inner monologue as I hear him jawing on the other end of the line.

Well, here's the thing buddy.  Somehow, you've landed at the internal help desk.  We work with city and county employees who are having problems with their technology.  We aren't a switchboard, we aren't reception, we're the help desk.  This is the notorious bowels of government offices where work orders go to die, and passwords spontaneously expire.  We're staffed by grumpy, sarcastic, underpaid and overworked schmoes who's only job satisfaction is to mess with people like you, clueless vendors.  Bring.  It.  On.

Once he's done barking over my greeting (which annoys the hell out of me) I give him a moment of silence just to "make sure he's done talking".  (Really, it was to make the guy a little unsettled.  People are unnerved by silence.)  As soon as it started to stretch into uncomfortable, I told him that he'd reached the help desk, and I was unable to transfer him to the CIO.  Policy forbade it.  (Which was a little white lie.  Sure, we weren't supposed to transfer someone to him directly, but we could send them to his receptionist.  This guy did zero legwork and just expected to bully me into getting the job done for him.  Nope.  I might have a sweet face, but these lips hide pit-bull teeth.)  He, naturally, wasn't too happy to hear this and proceeded to pour on the venom.  Well, his version of venom.  Nothing like being told you're a government employee and you HAVE to do what the tax paying customer tell you.

Well, let's check our facts first buddy.  First of all, I am a quasi government employee.  I work for a commission formed to support the local city and county government, but I am not directly employed by either entity.  So, no.  I am NOT strictly a government employee.  So, no.  I DON'T have to do what you tell me to based on your heart-felt *cough* request.  Had you bothered to do a little work beyond dialing the switchboard and having them transfer you to us, you might know this.  I will also have you know, just because I have a vagina doesn't mean I'm going to cave in to your domineering attitude at the first sign of conflict.  Actually, odds are I'll dig in my heels more to keep you from getting what you want just on the principle that you're an asshole who expects that kind of behavior to work.

He kept insisting that I had to transfer him.  That his tax dollars paid my salary.  Hmmm, nice try.  But, the answer is still no.  This is when he changed tactics.  Obviously, I'm not intimidated by threatening me with my paycheck should he opt to skip paying his taxes.  I guess in his head he thought if Local doesn't work, get all Federal on her ass.  He puffs himself up more and tells me he's calling from the White House.  Well, you might live in *a* white house, but I sincerely doubt that *the* White House staff would have to call the city switchboard to get ahold of the CIO.  They'd have the number for the bat phone.  That, and let's fact check for a bit here.  Didn't you just, in your previous breath even, tell me that your *local* tax dollars pay my salary?  You're telling me that you're a local resident conveniently employed at the White House.  Uh uh.  No way.  You sir, are full of shit. 

Is there anything I *actually* can help you with?  No?  Well then sir, you have a fantastic day.  *click*

At this point, I walk back to the Lead Tech's office.  Ok, you got me.  I was feeling puckish at the time, so I sauntered.  I stood in the doorway, one hand on the frame, hip stuck out in a jaunty pose, and say to the Lead "I just wanted you to remember what I looked like since I just hung up on a member of the White House staff.  He called the help desk looking for the CIO.  I'm pretty sure they're coming to throw me in jail right now."  And rolled my eyes.  The Lead chuckled with me, and I turned around and headed back to my desk.

My next phone call couldn't have been scripted any better.  It's from one of the regulars from Corrections (yes, jail) calling to say they have a problem with one of the more temperamental pieces of technology.  It's nothing serious, but it IS something that we need to send a warm body to go fix before the end of business in about 30 minutes.  I could have fixed it, but percussive maintenance doesn't work so well over the phone.

This twisted grin creeps over my face as I realize what fun I can have with this service request.  I need to go back to the Lead's office again, regardless.  He's the one that doles out the assignments, so I figured he'd need to see this before quitting time.  My secondary motive is to pull one over on the Lead.  I scuttle back to his door with this pained expression on my face.

When he looks up from his computer, I start in with "So, corrections just called..."  I kid you not, his eyes grew to the size of dinner plates!  If he'd have had a scrolling LED sign on his forehead, I'm sure it would have read "Oh god.  They're going to want you to turn yourself in!  We don't have enough in the tech's bail fund for this..."  He opens and closes his mouth a few times like a fish out of water, and I just lose it.  I break down in a fit of giggles and tell him not to worry.  Their widget is acting up again, and they'd like to have our guy stop by and kick it before he goes home. 

As the realization that I'm just pulling his leg about the Secret Service being the reason for the call dawned on him, he let the panic go.  I got both a good laugh from him, and the declaration that his heart can't handle that kind of fright.  So, I'd best not pull that too often.  Sure thing.  I'll wait at least a week before the next one.  *big toothy, lopsided grin*

For as much as I hate the scut work and all the crap that comes with being a help desk employee, it's stories like this one that make it worth it.

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