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Thursday,  February 6 12:01 AM EDT

Today's Victim - "Computer Illiterates"

By Nolan Curtis

When I go to the mechanic and he asks what's wrong with my car, I don't say "Oh, I don't know. I'm vehicle illiterate," because that would be asinine and wouldn't get me any closer to resolving the problem with my car.

However, people seem to think that by admitting they are "computer illiterate" that it somehow increases my knowledge of their problem. The truth is, in most cases, if the caller were "computer literate", they wouldn't be calling me. So let's begin with that understanding already firmly established. Hopefully, they do know their job, so if I call them, we'll also assume that I am "Their Job Illiterate" and consider the whole thing a wash.

Having said that, let's also assume that when I ask a question, I actually mean it. Let's imagine Bob calls me because he gets an error message when he opens Word. I might ask Bob to read me the error message, and I actually mean for him to read it to me. I don't want Bob's paraphrase, or summary, as similar to the actual message as they may be. I also don't want Bob to say, "I don't get an error message. It just says:'Word failed to start..'." because then I have to tell Bob that is an error message and we'll already have less respect for each other. He thinks I'm being pompous, and I want to punch him in the throat. (But the anger management courses are really paying off).

Bob and I usually have one thing in common: neither of us wants to be talking to the other. Ideally, Bob wants me to send a technician over to his desk to magically fix the problem while he sips his coffee and exchanges sexual innuendo with Marcy in Billing. But I know if he can follow instructions for two minutes, he can save the technician the trip and save everyone some time. Bob generally thinks that being "computer illiterate" absolves him from having to follow instructions, but I figure he's not above "click on Start. Choose run..."

As long as we're making assumptions, let's make the big one, even though it's not universally true. Let's assume that I'm REALLY trying to help Bob. I may hope that after I get off the phone with him that he falls into a open septic tank, but while I'm on the phone with him, I'm out to fix his problem. The reasoning is complex. By fixing Bob's problem:

1) I'm doing my job and can take pride in that.
2) I am exercising my command of technology and can act like a Big Man.
3) I can help Bob get back to doing his job, and most importantly
4) the sooner I can solve Bob's issue, the sooner I can return focus on posting on The Lord of the Rings forums.

I apologize to any readers that may be "Tolkien Illiterate."

More Nolan Curtis

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