Mar 302010
 

NX - Knows all, sees allFirst, before I unleash my barrage of slanderous and accusatory shrapnel, I find it fitting to define the word troglodyte. Some of you might think this a pointy-eared, green-skinned, fantasy denizen conjured forth in some abject virgin’s random Dungeons & Dragons group’s masturbatory session. This is far from the truth, however; it’s a real word. Dictionary.com defines troglodyte as a prehistoric cave dweller, a person of degraded, primitive, or brutal character, a person living in seclusion, a person unacquainted with affairs of the world and an animal living underground. This is a thorough and accurate definition and I applaud the inventor of the word for their forethought in creating the perfect term to describe the majority of those I work with… not all, mind you (blessed are the few), but the good majority.

But what has happened to cause me to label many of those fellow co-workers as such?

Apparently it’s the very simple instructions I have given them (Gasp! I know). Most, I find, have a deathly fear of reading instructions. Then there’s the inherent inability to follow the few instructions they do read. It amazes me when I ask them, “Why did you just do that?” They say, “I don’t know.” Apparently, when even a modicum of confusion sets in said troglodyte’s mind, they just start clicking away randomly. It doesn’t matter on what; it’s fight or flight and usually their massive bulks prevent the flight part (unless the flight is ten feet to the nearest vending machine). So, they sit and scratch their befuddled heads and rub their pimpled necks and think, “Hey, this stupid program doesn’t work…” Really? So it’s the program that’s stupid and not you? Hmmm. We had a term for this in the Army: User Head Space and Timing. In the civilian word it is refereed to as PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair).

But what is the true root of my frustrations? Well, it all began with a simple thing called an e-mail signature. You know, it has your name and phone number and whatnot at the bottom of each e-mail? Now, you would think I was asking someone to create a hydrogen bomb by using three toothpicks, one of those Mexican strawberry sodas, dental floss and a dozen apple turnovers. But no, it was simple: create an email signature and here’s how… Nope, ain’t gonna happen. Apparently, asking them to do such was equivalent to asking them to follow instructions on how to drink milk without it coming out their noses.

Seeing the probability of having them successfully complete the task dwindling with every request of “Can you do it for me?”, I immediately sought a better way to split infinitives and create their e-mail signatures in a matter that wouldn’t be as brain intensive.

Eventually, through collaboration with a fellow IT guru—Tim, you’re the man, a batch file was modified that did just that. By running this file the user would be prompted for their information and then an e-mail signature would be created complete with logos, hyper-links, would be placed in the proper signatures folder and Outlook would be set to default to the new signature. It was a blessing to say the least. There was no way my end-users could possibly fornicate this one up… Boy, was I wrong. Apparently, they still had to save the file from the e-mail it was attached to, then rename it (a necessary measure due to our anti-virus not liking .exe e-mail attachments), and then run the file without somehow closing the program window before it had completed. That was just too much for the poor dears. I could see their hapless brains pulsing and groaning as the batch file ran. “Hey, I can’t use my mouse”, “Is it done? I think I’ll close the window”, “What the? What’s happening? Oh, my God! There’s this weird window open and it’s asking me questions”, “Y or N, what does that mean?” “It’s a virus!” It goes on and on.

So here I sit, cursing their very mothers for birthing them, as my phone rings and the e-mails plop into my inbox one after another. Unfortunately for me, the troglodytes have access to my phone number, e-mail address and may have somehow successfully implanted a tracking chip in my neck as well. Whatever the case, they know how to make my life a living hell… and they do… day in and day out… until all are one with the matrix.

NX

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