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Nice Job Breaking Everything, Newbie

, , , , , , , | Working | November 9, 2022

I had been at my new job at a call center for around a month and working the phones for a few days after starting with emails. One of the things I learned early on was that if you’re experiencing problems with the customer database, you clear the cache on your browser. So, one day, when the database felt especially sluggish, I did just that.

The next call came in. Instead of being slow, the subscriptions didn’t load at all. There was an empty box where the subscriptions were supposed to show up. This was very, very bad because 90% of the calls concern subscriptions.

When you’re in a call center, you can easily tell if anything goes down because, after a while, everyone will be peeking at their neighbours, trying to figure out if they’re experiencing the same problem. So, I looked around. Everyone was happily going about their business.

I cleared the cache again. Nothing. I shut down the browser. Nothing. I turned the computer off and on again. Nothing. I asked the coworker next to me if they had ever had this problem. They had not.

I asked a guy who was helpful during my very recent training if there was an IT department. He pointed me to another guy who was apparently the computer wizard.

The computer wizard asked me if I’d tried clearing the cache. He tried every common solution we had for database problems. He tried to log in on my computer with his ID to see if the error repeated. It did. After a while, he had to get back to work.

You might be wondering why I didn’t contact my manager instead of trying to problem-solve myself, being a bright green newbie at the job.

Well. We had three named people we were supposed to talk to in just this sort of situation. Let’s call them team leads. The bad news? The team leads and my manager were all in a meeting with our client — the one we do customer service for. I had no idea where, and even if I figured it out, walking into the meeting room with my problem seemed daunting. I had no options, though, so first I tried my manager’s office. It was empty. I stood behind the doors of both of the meeting rooms for a few minutes each, gathering my courage to knock. In one of them, there were team leads for another client. No one opened the door for the other one.

I kept wandering around, probably looking increasingly frantic. Finally, a team lead for yet another client was walking around, probably going for a smoke, and noticed that I was quietly freaking out. He listened to my problem, asked if I had cleared the cache, and promised to contact my team leads.

After another ten minutes, one of my team leads showed up, probably with a briefing like, “Your baby employee has a computer problem and she is on her way to melting into a pile of sad, anxious goo under the table.” She cleared the cache and did the tricks the computer wizard did, and some new ones. Nothing. The subscriptions were still empty. She had me log into her computer with my ID. Nothing. She told me to get familiar with our products while I waited. I sat around trying to focus on a magazine for a long while.

Now, since I’ve told the story the way I have, you probably knew immediately that clearing the cache was the problem. But I can tell you that no one had any idea what was happening as it was happening, and I got almost admiring glances from coworkers for finding such a special way to break everything.

It took something like two hours from the initial problem to the solution, which came from the IT department of our client. They had been testing some updates live on the system while I first cleared my cache. When I next loaded the customer database after that first clearing, it picked up the broken update. After that, any time I logged into anyone else’s computer, it considered me a first-time user and loaded the broken update, since that was what was online. They “rolled back” the update or something, and I could finally get back to work.

I just love how many times clearing the cache was suggested and attempt as a solution when it was the source of all the problems.

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