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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Lament of the IT Geek.

One thing I will never understand for as long as I live is the assumption among users I service here at work (and people in general, for that matter,) that I would love nothing more than to fix their personal computer. Heck, they'll even bring it in to work for me. After all, I fix all these computers here at work all day so surely I can do theirs too.

Now, I would never go around expecting people to do what they're being paid to do for me for with no compensation for their time, so I find it curious and more than a little rude that there's this expectation that the tech guys are here for everyone's personal computing problems.

Well, let's get a few things straight. This is basic capitalism 101: money exchanged for goods or service. I'm here because they are giving me a paycheck and health benefits, not because I love fixing computers. Honestly, I can think of hundreds of things I'd rather do than be stuck on customer support calls with Dell or helping so-and-so fix her email, again.

Speaking of money, people generally get paid quite a bit more than what I'm pulling in per hour to work on personal machines. Hell, most people get paid more than I do to do what I do. (I'm not complaining, just stating a fact.)

And regarding what I do, nowhere in my job description is anything about fixing people's home computers.

Funny thing, I never hear anyone who offers to bring their computer to work so I can fix it for them mention anything about money. I'm sure they're aware people get paid good money to fix computers. Maybe that's why they are hoping the tech guy at work will fix it for them for free. In fact, I never hear them mention anything about anything other than what I can do for them.

And people get so shitty when I tell them no. I've tried to word this in the nicest way possible, but there's nothing I can say that won't get people in a huff. Let's see, you've just asked me to do something I get paid to do for you, who I barely know, for free and because I won't do it, you're going to get crappy with me? I just don't get where this sence of entitlement comes from.

See, this is the thing, I enjoy doing favors for those people who I have a relationship with versus some random person at work I only see when they want something. I will work on computers belonging to friends and relatives because they are friends and relatives. I also know they don't necessarly expect it and when I need a favor, the favor will be returned.

It's not even a money thing, as I've gladly exchanged computer tech services for food and beer. If somone said to me "I'll buy you lunch if you help me out with this problem" it'd go a long way towards making me actually consider helping them. Granted, it's going to take a little more than Taco Bell to get me to help you with a complete system recovery, but it's at least a step in the right direction.

So, this is the bottom line. IT folks aren't trying to be some gatekeepers of computer knowledge. Well, most of us aren't anyway. We're generally good, friendly and helpfull people. But, before you approach the IT guy or gal at work about fixing your computer, you need to understand the following things:

1) Knowing something about computers is seen by too many people as an open invitation for free tech support. It tends to make us a little gun shy to talk computers with people not in the know.
2) IT people's time and knowledge have value. They should be offered compensation should they choose to share these things with you.
3) Just because they fix computers for your company doesn't mean they have to fix your personal computer.
4) You are not entitled to free tech support from everyone who knows something you don't about computers.

(For the record, my going rate is $40/hour or you can clean my bathroom and/or kitchen.)

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