Monday, October 31, 2011

“Beware Computer Programmers baffled by telephones!”

For those of you that have been here before, you’ve probably read about the I.T. support group we’re shackled with here at the fire department. For you first timers, if you find this article suitably painful, you may even want to go back and enjoy a few of the other I.T. adventures we’ve had here together. Either way, hold on to your hats, because here comes an all new episode in the “Beware Computer Programmers” saga.

Last week I called in a phone problem, and discovered the I.T. desk had added a whole new level of redundancy and aggravation. The name of this new and improved little demon is called the intelligent automated answering system.

At first I thought the I.T guys had done something right; separating their issues into different departments, making them more organized and efficient. I assumed wrong.

The automated she devil answered the phone and I listened to the usual gambit of press one for this, and two for that, until I got to the option for telephone issues. It was, of course, the last one. I’m still trying to figure out how those things know what you’re calling about, enabling them to put the number you’re looking for at the bottom of the list!

Anyway, I selected the phone issues option, which of course sent me to another menu, then another, and another, until I did what any other rational human being would do. I punched the number zero like a speed bag until the system relented and sent me to an operator. The good news? It worked. A real live, breathing, human being answered the phone. The bad news? It was one of our good friends, the I.T. technicians.

I explained to the nice gentlemen, we’ll call him Gerald, that we had a phone that was not working. Gerald told me, with a great amount of pride, that they had an all new automated system that could send me to the section that would take care of my issue. I resisted the urge to tell him what I thought of his system, and asked Gerald if he would transfer me to the correct section, and believe it or not, he said he could! He told me to hold on and I waited while the phone clicked and beeped, then I heard Gerald’s muffled voice again. He said something like, “This one?” then click… beep… dial tone. You’d think I’d know better by now.

I redialed, and was again greeted by the automated she-devil. This time I gave in and patiently made my way through the demons labyrinth of numbered torture. I made it to the hold queue, complete with Barry Manilow montage, and waited for my turn to talk to a technician.

After ten or fifteen minutes a familiar voice came on the line.

“This is Gerald, can I help you.”

Now usually I try to hold my profanity to a minimum, but let’s just say my response to Gerald’s voice was a bit less than cordial. I think he was taken aback by my colorful description of his service procedures, but once I calmed down, he agreed to try and help me and I agreed to stop creating new ways to call him the business end of a donkey.

From there, our time on the phone together was a little tense, but we made it through together. After a few more assaults from the Barry Manilow hold line, I even calmed down enough to apologize for my language and behavior. Gerald accepted, and did his best to find a technician that could make it over that very day.

I don’t know if I’ll ever talk to Gerald again, but I feel we developed a kind of bond. Perhaps, if our paths cross again, things will be different. Maybe things will go smoothly and we’ll develop some sort of working relationship. Then again, if that happened, what would I have to write about!

So let me have it. My I.T. blogs usually draw out the techs in this little community. Tell me your side. I love to hear the “Why won’t this thing turn on when it’s not plugged in “stories too.

Have a great day and happy reading!!


  1. I can totally relate. Awesome work. Love your humor.

  2. Thanks Itch. Good luck and hope to see you back soon!

  3. Maybe you could find their office, borrow a phone next to "Gerald", go through the process and wait for him to pick up. Wonder if he'd see the humor?

  4. LOL. You have to go back and read some of my older I.T. posts. You would not believe how close you are ha ha ha.

  5. I'm an IT guy, and lemme tell you, they have a new phone system here in our dept. for the help desk. It has completely obscured any way possible for me to speak to a live person in our computer room, which is really annoying when I get called about a problem outside of work hours and have to call in to speak to anyone in that room.

    So, as someone on the INSIDE, I too can appreciate this story. :-)