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What Changed? January 16, 2015

Posted by General Zod in Humor, Storytime, Tech.
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OK.  Well, it has been several months since I’ve had anything worth talking about on my little blog… but today, something happened that made me very grateful that I no longer do workstation support as my primary function.

Two weeks ago, Joe Manager had opened a ticket with our Help Desk which stated that his group’s printer was no longer functioning.  Joe’s group could print to an alternate printer, but they had to walk across the building to get to it.  Obviously, this was an inconvenience for them.  Unfortunately, that past point is probably what led our Workstation team to tagging this ticket as a low priority, so it still had not been resolved.  This morning, Joe was upset that no one had visited to help resolve this situation, and he was demanding action.

Well… it is nearly the Christmas holiday, and most folks have taken this week off of work… so the Workstation team is short-staffed today.  They started calling around to see if anyone else might be going in the general direction of Maryland to ask if they could swing by and check out the situation.  Kim (from my Server Support group) took that call, and she said that she’d try to find someone.

Unfortunately, I was running a bit behind this morning and hadn’t made it to work yet when my phone rang.  I saw it was Kim calling, so I pulled the car over to see if there was anything urgent she might need to know.  She asked where I was and if I’d have any objections to swinging over to our Elkton site to help out.  I had nothing urgent going on this morning… so what the hell!

Arriving at the site, I tracked down Joe and introduced myself.  He immediately broke into his upset rant, but I stopped him coldly.  “I’m not part of the Workstation Support team… I’m just here to help you as a favor to them.  So I’m not the one you need to bark at.”  Joe apologized, and we moved on from there.

He gave me a quick tour.  He pointed out Printer A that was not working as well as Printer B that functioned just fine… and demonstrated the problem to me.  I told him that I’d do my best to assist him, and set to work.

I checked the Joe’s printer settings. All looked OK.  I RDP’ed into the local File/Print server, and checked the printer queue.  Yep… about two weeks worth of print jobs backed up.  I went ahead and restarted the Print Spooler service, but no joy.

I turn to Joe and ask…

Me:  This problem started about 2 weeks ago?
Joe:  Yes.
Me:  And what changed about 2 weeks ago?
Joe:  Nothing.
Me:  Nothing at all?  Even small details might be important.
Joe:  Well… we moved.
Me:  Meaning what?
Joe:  Well… we used to sit on the other side of the building.
Me:  Near Printer B?
Joe:  Yes.
Me:  So this printer was here when you moved in, and the printer that you used to use is still across the building?
Joe:  That’s correct.

Time to check the printer.  Its definitely ON.  Cabling is connected.  There’s plenty of toner and… dammit.  So I walked tot he other end of the building.  Julie, the secretary-type, is still sitting at the far end of the building… right next to Printer B.

Me:  Is this printer working OK?
Julie:  Yes.
Me:  Does anyone other than yourself ever put new paper or toner into this printer?
Julie:  No, and I find that really annoying.
Me:  Well… then stop doing it all the time.  Obviously, refill it when you need to, but don’t jump on it every time.  If you keep doing it for them, they’ll never bother themselves.
Julie:  Yeah, you’re right.
Me:  OK, thanks for your time.

So I gathered up a few reams of paper and deposited them next to Printer A.  I filled up the printer’s paper tray… and sat there while about 30 or 40 different print-outs spewed from the printer.  Toner seemed to be OK, so I’m calling it a win.  Then, I refilled the paper tray a second time.

I asked Joe to test it out, and then he asked…

Joe:  So what did you do to fix it?
Me:  I’m not sure you’ll want me to tell you.
Joe:  Oh, I want to know.

Apparently, Joe had visions of holding some configuration mistake over the heads of the Workstation Support team in addition to their unresponsiveness.  So I told him.

Doing my best Roy Trenneman impression, I responded with… “Yeah, you need to put paper in it.”  Joe’s face went a bit sheepish looking… and after a few moments of silence, he finally barked out.

Joe:  There has to have been more to it than that.
Me:  Nope.  It was just out of paper.
Joe:  Well… we never had this problem before.
Me:  Yes, because Julie was refilling the paper for you guys all the time.  She’s not going to be doing that for you any more, so it is time for your group to learn a little self-reliance.

I asked if there was anything more that I could do for him, but he had nothing else to ask.  So to return a small shred of dignity to him, I apologized on behalf of the Workstation Support team for their inattentiveness and told him that I’d “speak to them about it”.

A few minutes later, I was in the parking lot and chatting with Babs (from Workstation Support).  We had a really good chuckle over the situation.  However, I did ask her to pass along to whomever had owned the ticket that Joe was justifiably upset for the lack of response.  She agreed… and I considered them “spoken to”.

There’s two important lessons to learn from this story.

  1. For IT Support people… whenever faced with an issue, the first question you should always ask is… What Changed?
  2. For the End-Users… Yes.  If you make a bonehead mistake, we IT folks will laugh at you behind your backs.

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