Similar Symptoms, Exactly the Same Problem

I should probably be used to this by now, and to some degree, it’s actually understandable. Users tend to think that similar symptoms means they’re having the same problem as the last time they had a problem like this. I can understand how “can’t print” is the same to them every time, even if the last time the problem was that the printer wasn’t mapped and this time the problem is that their connection to the printer has crashed. What I can’t figure out is why they think “document failed to print” and “printer is out of toner” are the same problem.

But it’s worse than that. Users don’t know the difference between “shared drive failed to connect” and “you don’t have permission to access said drive”. I’ve had people say “I can’t access my shared drive”, only to find out that they have never had access to it, but felt they needed it (or were told they did) and expected it to magically show up and/or let them in. Oftentimes, after such permission has been granted, they’ll have an issue where the computer loses connection to those drives, and even though there’s a clear message saying “failed to connect to shared drives”, they call us up and complain that someone removed their access.

We recently had an office migrated to a new server. The people in this office are…well, they’re special people. They go beyond “don’t know much about computers” and have headed straight into “how do they function in the modern world”. Migrating them to a new server, and the calls this caused, was fresh Hell. It’s still going on. I’m on the opening early shift today, and twice already I’ve gotten calls from people who have normal “failed to connect” errors (probably caused by a refresh in the night) that both times has been solved with a simple reboot, but because they fly into panic mode whenever they “can’t get to my files!” which is how they all phrase it, they’re sure it’s that we took their access away.

Chicken Little

Chicken Little was one of my most despised types of co-worker: the type that figures they can take a job that depends on constant computer use, claim they’re “not good at that stuff” and get paid to sip coffee all day.  Because why should you learn anything new just to cash a paycheck, am I right?

Anyway, she got her name because everything was a crisis.  She didn’t recognize her new homepage?  A crisis.  Didn’t know how to use a Word template?  Total meltdown.  I cannot count the number of times she stood in my doorway, halfway between screaming and tears, saying “I just don’t know what to DO!”

Gee, maybe if you consistently don’t know what to do at work, that’s a sign you should maybe do something else?  Far away from me?

So, there were two printers in our part of the office.  The main, industrial printer, which everyone shared, and a small laser printer which was connected to Chicken Little’s PC.  This printer existed so that she could print confidential stuff without having to let it sit in a public printer, and allowed her to print onto specialty papers without fussing with the large paper trays.  It was not, however, SOLELY her printer, and a few people such as myself mapped to it as a backup.

Chicken Little, however, always had it in her head that this printer was hers and hers alone, and would print off batches of address labels, leaving the rest still in the tray.  This would mean if I printed a report, I’d walk to her desk (knowing full well she wasn’t there and therefore not using her printer) and find it had been printed on address labels.  This would not happen once or twice, but in fact became a pattern.  And when she would discover the wasted labels, she would act surprised.

It got to the point where I would hear her talking with her co-workers at the other end of the building, decide to use her printer, and as soon as she heard the paper churn through, she’d be literally RUNNING down the hall (dress and heels, no less) screaming “NO NO NO WAAAAIIITTTT!!!!”  as if she expected the printer to listen to her.  Who knows, maybe she did?  And without even getting up, I knew I needed to (again) go change the paper back because she’d left the good stuff in the paper tray.

It was maybe six months before it was decided that Chicken Little needed to find another henhouse.