January 3, 2013

Shame Is My Vengence - A Help Desk Story

Every CSR, regardless of job description, has been treated like “the help” or as slightly less disgusting than slime mold in the eyes of their customer.  Those who have worked a phone, or an email account know that it’s usually in the job description to take a certain amount of abuse, and frowned upon to exact any kind of purposeful vengeance on your caller.  I have been told that I’m a government employee, so because said customer pays my salary, I am obliged to help them in whatever way they want.  I’ve been told that because the caller is a paying customer, and the customer is always right, I have to do what they say.  I’ve talked to salesmen who feel that their position is higher on the food chain and they’re really not above making sure you know it because IT people are apparently lepers in the sales colony.  However, occasionally, the gods smile down from their omnipotent perch on their celestial Lay-Z Boy and an opportunity to dole out the rope and watch a person hang themselves lands in your lap.  Such was the case with the story I’m about to tell you.

I was waist deep in a call from a young sounding salesman with enough knowledge about his computer to give his ego a chubby.  I was flailing, trying to get his printers to work.  Anyone who has ever talked with me about the highs and lows of being in tech support knows I hate printers.  They’re the debt collectors of my existence, and they take repayment in sanity and confidence.  Thankfully, remote assistance and screen sharing tools exist for situations such as these.  I was on his machine with him, trying to get everything to go.  His print driver would install, but the printers would immediately go offline.  Everything I had tried wouldn’t bring them back from the dead.  

As I’m working, I’m listening to him tell me how I’m doing it wrong, and that he’d already done this, that, and probably the next thing I was going to suggest.  He was against restarting the machine, and unable to help me get the print spooler restarted. (That’s not the problem, he said.  Meanwhile, my remote control software has built in safeguards to prevent remote users from changing system settings like that.  I was stuck without his assistance.)  He also takes the time to tell me what a joke this all is, while we're waiting for a download to finish.  This should be working, he says and he shouldn’t have to waste time on ineffective tech support calls.  He doesn’t have the time to dedicate to all this.  I’m obviously an idiot if I can’t get this working in less than 5 minutes.  He has to make a living, and his product won’t sell itself while I’m bumbling around trying to fix a simple issue. You know, making sure I know that he's not just stepping on The Help, but grinding us under his boot.

I was doing my level best to ignore him, not responding to his bear baiting.  I decided to go back to the site and download the very latest printer drivers and save them to his download folder, rather than run them from the web page.  I wanted to see if there was an uninstall option that I had missed previously.  If nothing else, the latest version has to help, right?

As we’re letting the file download, I go back to my system and look this guy up.  My suspicions were correct.  Based on his date of birth, I can suppose that he’s a fresh college grad and that this is his first job after graduation. He’s the green pea that hasn’t learned that if you’re good to “the help”, you’ll go alot further in life.  I start to feel sorry for the guy, and pretty sure that eventually, that ego of his was going to trip him up like someone tied his shoelaces together.

When the download completes, I click to open the containing folder so I can run the installer.  Up pops his download folder.  Lo, there in all of its glory, is this schmuck’s porn collection in its entire unsorted state.  As an evil grin creeps across my face, I hear his tirade dry up like a vagina after menopause.  Without missing a beat, I mouse over each file, looking for the one I need and double click it.  I didn’t say word one about the files in full view, but I didn’t let my voice give me away that I’d seen them either.  When the installer starts, I don’t close the window. I leave it open for him to stare at behind the bravado he's built up over the phone.  I can tell by the way his chastisement vanished into silence he’s seen what’s on the screen and is embarrassed.  I’m absolutely not fazed by it, and it’s the guy’s own personal laptop.  What he does with it is his business.  But, I’m not above enjoying the irony of the person who was calling me useless and ineffective getting “busted” with his own poorly concealed adult entertainment so easily.  (I also have the power to have his network privileges removed if I think there’s a major problem with the laptop, so I’m sure he was worried I’d either report him to HR or get IS Security involved.)  The thing is, *he* didn’t know that I wasn’t bothered by it, only that I was enjoying him squirm without my helping him by mentioning what we were both staring at.  As I kicked off the installer and let it run, he grabs ahold of the mouse, and clicks the close button to get rid of the “evidence”, so I know for a fact he’s clammed up out of horror.  

In the end, his machine never did end up with working printers.  As i was going to look for a way to uninstall the drivers, we discovered that his machine was infested with malware.  (Which probably went hand in sticky hand with his porn habits.  If he was smart, he's have hidden his files.  Since he didn't, I'm pretty sure his anti-malware stuff wasn't working, if he had any.  Consider malwarebytes an internet condom kids.) 

I’m pretty sure this guy stewed in his cubicle for at least an hour, waiting for a call or sternly worded email from the security department or HR.  Me?  I’m still chuckling over that doofus’ mismatched shame about his porn habit, and ability to conceal it from even the most meager attempts to find it.  

The moral of the story is this:

First, if you don’t know how to hide your porn and are worried about someone finding it, don’t use the same machine that you take to work with you to watch it.  Order pay per view, buy a magazine, or get a second machine just for your special needs.

Second, if you do take your porn machine to work with you, learn how to at least save it in a place that you can’t get to with one click.  Name your folder something innocuous, and nest it in a directory tree a couple layers deep.

For advanced perverts, try your hand at file encryption.  There are some fantastic packages out there, some are even free!  I’ve used truecrypt with great success for keeping data safe on portable media.  It can work for your dirty little secret too.

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