, , , , | Working | October 23, 2020

I work at a company doing technical support. Our help desk is notorious for simply forwarding tickets to us without attempting basic troubleshooting. When the help desk gets a new manager, he decides to address the situation by asking us to provide a troubleshooting process for the help desk operators to follow. We respond with a step-by-step numbered list of troubleshooting measures.

However, what we notice is that we are STILL getting a heavy volume of calls escalated to us. Looking into it, we discover why. The help desk is doing step one of the troubleshooting, and then, when it fails, forwarding it on to us without trying the remaining steps. When we bring this to the manager’s attention:

Manager: “Look, these are just help-desk people. They don’t understand step-by-step processes, and after step one, you didn’t specify, ‘Go to step two.’ I mean, I’d naturally assume that, because I’m a manager, but you can’t expect them to!”

We just stared at him, but from then on, we had to specify in our procedures to move to the next step when finishing another. Apparently, if you’re not a manager, you’re not smart enough to realize how numbered steps work without it being spelled out for you.

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We’re Adults And We’re Not This Mature

, , , , , , | Right | October 23, 2020

I am visiting my grandmother and grandfather who live in an extremely nice assisted living community. We are “out to dinner” at the on-site restaurant, which is almost entirely staffed by wonderful high school students. A boy probably no older than fifteen is serving us.

Teenage Server: “And what can I get for you, ma’am?”

Grandmother: “Well, dear, I would like the shrimp with the—”

She suddenly stops speaking and releases the longest, loudest passing of gas I’ve ever heard. My uncle can barely contain his laughter, but the young server doesn’t even blink.

Grandmother: “Excuse me! As I was saying, the shrimp with the collard greens, dear.”

Teenager Server: “Absolutely, ma’am, that will be right out for you.”

The server walked away still without any trace of a snicker or embarrassment. Now that’s professionalism! Just goes to show that age and maturity are not always connected!

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No Coffee Is Worth This Much Trouble

, , , , , , | Legal | October 18, 2020

In my state, wearing a mask in any public building is required.

I go to the corner gas station that’s very popular with the local police because they give them free coffee. I go up to the counter to make my purchase and see that the two clerks don’t have their masks pulled all the way up. I’ve had some recent health problems, so politely, from behind my mask, I ask them before I approach:

Me: “Can you pull your masks up?”

They think I said, “Put your hands up,” and hit the panic button. The doors lock, and they bolt for the backroom while I’m having a WTF moment.

Now, as I’ve said, the place is very popular with the local police department, and there’s usually one or two cars there an hour. FOUR police cars arrive in thirty seconds; their precinct is a half-mile down the street.

They get out of their cars with guns drawn and shout at me to freeze, come to them, get on the ground, and other things I can’t make out from behind their masks. They also can’t get into the store because the doors are still locked and the cashier and supervisor aren’t coming out of the backroom because they think I’m robbing the place.

I get on the floor and stay there until the supervisor unlocks the door, holding a mop handle in my direction, and the cops swarm me and handcuff me while reading me my rights.

They start asking me my name, what I am doing there, etc. I’m still wearing my mask and one of them says he can’t understand me. I enunciate for them as clearly as I can while handcuffed.

Me: “I came up to the counter and asked them to pull their masks up as I have health problems.” 

It took another ten minutes of me repeating what I’d said before the cashier agreed that was what she’d thought I said and panicked. The supervisor panicked, too, and I ended up almost getting arrested because they couldn’t understand me. 

Enunciate, people. It might stop you from getting arrested. 

As a bonus, I got a free cup of coffee.

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It’s Okay; We’re Confused, Too, Part 2

, , , , | Working | October 13, 2020

For many years, I’ve worked in IT for the headquarters of a major craft retailer in the US. The company has recently switched to a new Incident Tracking system. The system is used to log problems, escalate them to the right people, and, most controversial for us, track the time it takes to resolve a given issue. They make a big deal out of how this will allow us to be compliant to an industry standard known as ISIL.

Where the problem comes in is that the standards for what is called the “Service Level Agreement” or “SLA” are set by our notoriously broken help desk. As a result, they tell us that the more severe the problem is, the faster it needs to be resolved, which sounds good on paper… except…

They arbitrarily decide on a length of time that is acceptable for each SLA and punish broken SLAs. As a result of highly questionable resolution times, this results in most of IT failing to meet the set SLAs, which are sometimes as little as an hour for a major issue with no known cause.

Needless to say, there are a lot of unhappy people who are complaining a lot, and morale — which was already low for a number of other reasons — is falling again. Management decides that the real issue is that we just don’t understand the new software and how to use it. If we did, we would understand how to address these SLAs. So, they hire an ISIL expert consultant to come and give us a number of MANDATORY training classes.

These classes are spread over several days, and the trainer is actually quite good, but at the end of the session I attend — which is also attended by the VP who insisted on this software — he asks if there are any SPECIFIC issues he can help us understand.

Oh, boy.

Hands shoot up all over. Naturally, the questions are all on Service Level Agreements and the time limits on them.

The trainer nods agreeably and explains. 

Trainer: “Well, you see, an ‘INCIDENT’ is always the final category. Anything that you haven’t diagnosed should be entered as a ‘PROBLEM.’ The ‘Problem’ category is what all calls should initially come in as. SLAs only come into play as an ‘Incident,’ and the SLAs should be easy to keep track of.”

Please note that this is EXACTLY the opposite of what we have been told. There is silence in the room. People keep glancing at the VP whose baby this is and at the Help Desk Manager who devised all the training and SLAs for us. Finally, one of the bolder analysts raises her hand.

Analyst: “So, what you’re telling us is that SLAs should not be set for anything that is initially coming into the queue, and should only be set when we’ve determined what the issue is?”

Trainer: “Exactly!”

Analyst: “Because right now, we are given SLAs for every problem that gets opened.”

Trainer: *Looking a bit shocked* “Well, that’s just stupid. How can you possibly know how long it’s going to take to fix before you troubleshoot it?

Analyst: “EXACTLY!”

She shot a look over to the VP and the manager, who were looking a little uncomfortable.

The next day, we came in and saw an email that all further ISIL training classes were suspended, and that we were expected to use the Incident Tracking System the way we had initially been told. The VP then tried to spin it, “We didn’t need those classes; after all, we’re not an ISIL shop.”

It’s Okay; We’re Confused, Too

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Unfiltered Story #210601

, , | Unfiltered | October 11, 2020

Let’s pretend we sell something called a Streetman Widget. Watch the pronunciation…
Caller: Do you have a streezch-MAHN wid-JAY?
Me: I’m sorry, a what?
Caller: A Streezch-MAHN wid-JAY?
Me: (After a second or two)…a Streetman Widget?
Caller: I don’t think it’s a good idea to correct your client’s pronunciation. Do you have one?
Me: We carry several. Which one are you…
Caller: The big one – I’m on line and the computer says you have one.
Me: Well, yes, but the computer is sometimes wrong and I would hate for you to come all this way…
Caller: The big one. The BIG one – can’t you just walk over to the shelf and see if you have it?
Me: I want to be sure I’m checking on the exact one you want. You’re on line – the number is on the right – if you could let me know…
Caller: So, you won’t go over to the shelf and just look?
Me: Well, sure, but it could be in my stockroom too, and not on the shelf. I can check that with the item number and…
Caller: *Click*
My associate asked what that was about. I said the lady said she was calling about a widget, but she was really calling to have an argument.