Doug vs. the interweb

Journal #494
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January 21st, 2012 11:11 PM

There does seem to be at least a little merit in having someone who hates interacting with strangers man the support lines. It really inspires a dude to work hard to make sure the software can do its best to work around even the most difficult customer. Making the customer happier is just a nice by-product of reducing the number of times people have to call me.

I can't even get mad at some of the people I've dealt with -- it just seems to be a facet of human nature to not actually read instructions. There've been countless articles and papers supporting the notion that people do not read anything. "My XYZ doesn't work!" What happened when you did ABC? "An error came up." What did it say? "I don't know." Why. "I just closed it."

I have developed a bit of an auditory allergy -- any time I hear a phone ring in a similar manner to our support line, I cringe and my heart pounds. I certainly know it's not normal to be so utterly defeated by such a supposedly trivial thing as conversing with strangers, but it definitely does not get any easier with repetition.

Plus, it's not just conversation; it's someone else with a problem, and regardless of whose actual fault it may end up being, I'm the person in front of them. Even if they're absolutely sweet about it, I become the stumbling block in them getting their junk accomplished. And it's at completely unplanned intervals! Lunch is not safe. I can start getting into a tough problem, but any second the devil machine might start screeching. It's unnerving and a huge interruption, but with the size of our company, the few programmers really are the most qualified to fix whatever problems come through.

I'm just glad that out of the many support calls and emails this week, only two of them were actually due to things we had to fix on our end -- and they weren't even actual problems, just ways of cutting out some boundaries and allowing people through even if they didn't really read any of the instructions provided them. That probably makes it just marginally less arduous, knowing it's probably not because I screwed something all up.

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