Information Technology

Two weeks ago Mother Nature shut down my life for two days as she raged across the prairies. This week her buddy Murphy (of the law fame) decided he would not be shown up and shut down my life for another two days. What is with these people?!!! My life is complicated enough without outside influences making it harder. I’m not a bad guy!! I don’t kick the cat or make small children cry for the sport of it!! I obey most laws, at least the ones that make sense, and I try my best to be the best I can be every day, so why don’t you two go pick on someone else!!!


I started this last week of work with what appeared to be a minor computer malfunction. The hand held computer that I use to place orders and create invoices for my customers had developed a glitch. It seemed like a small one until I received a call from the office informing me that none of the future orders that had been placed for my customers had downloaded from my hand held to their main computer. This is a problem since without those orders the distribution center (DC) cannot release products for me to sell and therefore I can’t make any money. You can see how this might create a snowball effect.


Until that moment the only thing that appeared wrong was that one of the dropdown screens that allowed me to return damaged products and credit my customers for that product was blank. I had no way to credit the damages and I had been forced to leave them with the customer until this could be rectified. No big deal, that was simply a minor inconvenience but an order not getting to the DC was a much bigger issue. I went through all the tricks I knew to help solve the problem, including several reboots to my hand held computer. This is not the first time Murphy had played with modern technology and usually a reboot would do the trick in correcting his mischief. All my efforts were to no avail, so at 8:30am on Tuesday I placed my first call to our companies IT help desk.


The company I work for is, for use of a better word, MASSIVE!!! We have assets worldwide and anytime I call a 1-800 help me line, I know that even though I’m in Canada, the person picking up the phone may not be. The call I placed was picked up in Texas. Hey the same continent is a good thing! I explain my problem to the 1-800 IT guy and he listens dutifully, then instructs me to do all the same reboots I just finished telling him I’d already done! When this doesn’t work as I knew it would not, IT guy says “Hmm…That usually works.” That’s why I had already done them before I called you!!! I don’t say a word, as I wait for the next line that I know is coming, “I’ll have my supervisor take a look at it and we’ll get back to you.” That’s right because my problem is above your level of expertise… You’re just the reboot guy!!!  I politely thank him, because that’s what we Canadians do, and hang up.


I drive to the big city and there I wait for someone to call me back. Throughout the day the local brain trust of managers and other personnel in my office all try to come up with a solution to my dilemma. My hand held computer is exhausted from the constant rebooting that each one faithfully tries; believing that their magic touch will cure what ails it. These people mean well but their knowledge of the system is actually less than mine. I’ve had these hand held devices in my hand since they came into existence and the company took away my pen and calculator, it’s why I didn’t call reboot guy until I had tried the reboot! I’m no IT guy but face it, I know more than a level 1 IT guy does!!!  I spent the next 6 hours tinkering throughout the system and its menus, trying to at least figure out where they problem might lie. I am only feet away from the products I want placed on my truck but without getting my computer to tell the DC computer to release this product to me, nothing gets loaded. I discover a consistent problem with the drop down menus throughout the computers different functions; they don’t look the way they did a week ago and I’m locked into something called ‘advanced’. ‘Eureka, something to work with!!’ At 3pm I call the ‘1-800 help a brother out’ line and once again get Texas. I tell a different reboot guy what I have discovered; he listens dutifully. “Usually a reboot corrects that,” he comments, “I’ll pass along this new information.” He then informs me that my case has been given a high priority and that many people in the department are looking for ways to correct the problem. ”Even my manager is involved,” reboot guy tells me, “someone will get back to you as soon as we have a solution.” If there are all these people looking at my problem, why am I the one discovering the menu lock out problem?!!


I wonder if the IT department realizes just how crucial my job function is within our company. Simply put, if I don’t get the products that our company produces onto the shelf for the consumer to purchase… NONE OF US GET PAID!!! EVEN THE IT DEPARTMENT!!! I don’t get paid to sit around and wait for a phone call, I only earn by selling and delivering my products to the local retailer. Tuesday is a bust, so at 5pm with still no response from the IT department, I come up with a backdoor solution and get product from the DC placed on my truck. I get home at 8pm, 16 hours after I left it and I have earned $9.75. I might as well work in the Dominican Republic!!!


Wednesday morning at 5:30am as I manually create an invoice for a customer my phone rings. The exchange is +091. ‘Oh shit,’ I know what’s will coming next and I answer. It is the IT department in India and some woman speaking heavily accented English is asking me to explain the problem I’m having. Explain??? Haven’t you read the file??? Trying to explain the problem to a person that has no idea what I do within the company is a major problem. Our office in India is a bulk processing area, a filtering area where the IT based information (which is everything from finance to equipment) flows. I know now that this person will not be solving my problem, she doesn’t know what I’m talking about!! She tells me they’ll get back to me.


Just before noon on Wednesday my phone once again rings. I don’t recognize the exchange but it comes with a +1 country code so I know it’s North American. I pull the truck off the road (I am once again headed to the big city) and answer it. On the other end of the line is a guy from the east coast of Canada (Yay!) and he tells me he knows what my problem is and he can fix it (Double Yay!!). He then tells me that he spent the first 16 years with the company doing the same job that I do before saying “so let’s get this fixed so you can earn some money.” This guy understands my situation! He can help!! I love this guy!!! We spend the next 20 minutes with him directing me through the inner depths of my hand held computer. I read him a number and he tells me a code to enter and when our time was up I had a functioning device. The downside was that all the information that had been previously entered was now lost, I would have to re-enter all the order information again. I got home Wednesday at 6pm.


I had logged 30 hours on the job in two days and I had accomplished little for which I get paid. I had been handcuffed by the technology that was meant to make my life better. I woke Thursday morning and immediately checked my hand held computer and was relieved to see that all the customer invoices had downloaded as I slept and all was well. As I drove down the Trans-Canada Highway my phone rang, it was 4:05am, and the country exchange was +091. IT stands for Information Technology, I guess someone didn’t get the information the problem was fixed. I didn’t answer and they didn’t leave a message.





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