Posted On: Thu, Feb-01-2001
Written By: jonny
Title: Guru's World 02/2001: Even the Jerks Aren't Always Jerks
Introduction: "Don't you realize that any jerk off the street can buy that book, memorize it and still not know nearly as much as they should know to even get by and get an MCSE and then call you or me ever hour on the hour when they run into a problem because it wasn't covered on the test or their little 1,000 page paperback?" He seemed actually quite serious about his opinion about my little book.
I bought this book the other day.
The Waldenbooks on the corner was closing down so every book was 15% off. This and my Preferred Reader card took another 10% off of my purchase, so the need to buy a few books was irresistible.
The book I bought was the Sybex paperback ?MCSE Complete Core Requirements?.
It's 1000 pages of MCSE objectives. It's sort of like Cliff Notes for the MCSE. I bought it because it was under $15 after discounts and I thought it would be good bathroom reading.
At work, I told the other tech at my work place that I had bought this book and the look on his face had changed to a horrific pale white.
I said to him, "No, really. It's great. It's 1,000 pages and it just has blurb on every section of the test and a quick little practice exam at the end of each chapter. I read it in the bathroom. I read it before bed. It's fun."
The other tech now has a look on his face as if I told him that he wouldn't be leaving the room alive. Although most days I feel like killing this guy, today he was acting well behaved so I was a bit confused about his look. "What's wrong with my book?"
"Don't you realize that any jerk off the street can buy that book, memorize it and still not know nearly as much as they should know to even get by and get an MCSE and then call you or me ever hour on the hour when they run into a problem because it wasn't covered on the test or their little 1,000 page paperback?" He seemed actually quite serious about his opinion about my little book.
"So what?" I asked, "Should I not support the publisher because they seem to be promoting ignorant technicians?"
The next box I had opened cut our conversation short. The motherboard was returned to us WITHOUT a shipping box. There was merely the retail box with a return label slapped on it. It looked like it may have been stacked UNDER a number of 19" monitors.
"Hey! Look at this. This guy returned a motherboard and it?s got a piece of plastic missing off of the back of the AGP slot. It's a miracle it?s not damaged more from the way he shipped it!" Let's take a look in the computer to see what the RMA says.
Reason For Return: Video card is dead (tried in two machines) and motherboard has "broken AGP slot".
The conclusion that I had come to looking at the motherboard and video card was that the video card worked and the AGP slot was in fact broken in the back, but it looked like he had broken it while removing the AGP card and it did not effect the way the board worked.
On the off chance that someone had accidentally shipped this guy an RMA board, I tracked the serial number of the board. It basically went from the manufacturer to us and immediately out to the customer so it is very unlikely that this board had been in anyone's possession but the customer's.
So the board still worked and quite frankly if it hadn't, I'd still replace it for him even though the slot was damaged. It even worked with his supposedly defective video card. Go figure.
I sent it all back to the customer.
He called us up in tech support the next day. He talked to the other tech. The other tech explained that everything worked, the damage to the AGP slot was noted and both pieces were sent back to him.
The customer starts with the old "I've been doing this for 20 years" spiel. The other tech resists temptation to say "you've been breaking AGP slots for 20 years?"
The other tech explained that if the only reason why the board was returned was because of the broken piece of the AGP slot that it wouldn't be exchanged. The customer started to yell and the tech told him that he wouldn't talk to him any longer if he were going to raise his voice.
The next day he called again. This time he gets me.
"This board you sent back doesn't work!"
"That?s very strange sir. It definitely worked here. Are you sure the jumpers are set right?" I asked
"I've been doing this for twenty years!" he told me.
I must have had some REAL good coffee that morning because I was calm, cool and right on top of this guy's attitude. "Yeah. I know what you mean. I've been doing this for only 16 years, but these PCs never cease to amaze me. They?ll work one minute and not the next. It absolutely drives me up the wall."
Man, you're not kidding!" he responds, "It seems like every time I integrate a new platform into this office I run into a problem." At this point I think he realizes that I've turned the table on him. "So... sixteen years, eh?"
I decide to use this "male bonding" opportunity to give up a little bio and teach this guy a lesson about why saying you've been in the computer industry for X number of years isn't always as "meaningful" as saying that you've been a plumber for X number of years. "Yeah. Back in '84 I wrote apps for Z80 platforms and helped integrate CP/M 2.2 operating systems into systems that didn't currently use anything but a proprietary operating system. A lot of good that does me today, huh? It's a good thing I stayed close to the industry over the years or I'd be flipping burgers! As it is I?ve worked at Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Montgomery Wards in between platform changes. I remember the first time I saw Windows 95 back in late 95! It blew my mind! Good thing it hasn't changed too much over the last five years. It is too bad that the hardware changes so fast. If I took a hiatus of over 4 months I'd be out of work because I wouldn't know anything going on in the industry."
"Yeah." he agrees, "everything I learned at school that got me my BS in computer science is now essentially... well... BS!"
"I know what you mean bro." if I had a beer, I'd crack it open, "Tell you what: If you want to send that stuff back again, do it, and do it at my expense too. Send the CPU and RAM back too this time. I'll check it all out for you. I'll probably not get the stuff until Friday, so I'll send back whatever I send back with Saturday Delivery, assuming something is really wrong and I have to replace a part."
"Really?" the guy seemed stunned, "Thanks! I'll send it out tonight!"
AMAZINGLY enough, the guy called back only two hours later:
"Hey, I just played with the jumpers and now it boots right up! Guess I won't need that RMA number after all!"
"Really?" I acted shocked "You just took all of the jumpers off and put them back on again and now it works? WOW! That's weird! Like I said, 16 years and nothing ceases to amaze me!"
"Yeah!" he said, "it just started working after I changed all of the jumper around and then back again and now it's running flawlessly and that?s WITH the video card I had sent back too!"
I knew he was probably lying to me and had actually had the jumpers set wrong the first time around, but the guy was cool at this point, so I let it slide, "Well, you let me know if I can be of any further help, OK?"
Sometimes you have good days, and you really love your job and even the jerks, aren't jerks.