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The dumbest things people say to the IT person, catalogued

Reuters/Sivaram V
Come on. No.
  • Corinne Purtill
By Corinne Purtill


Published This article is more than 2 years old.

He was a data specialist running an Excel training class at a large US newspaper. The trainee was a reporter who put a hand up with a question. This was the exchange, as told to Quartz by the trainer:

Trainer: Open your browser.

Trainee: What’s that?

Trainer: You know, the internet.

Trainee: ::confused look::

Trainer: Internet Explorer? The blue “e” icon?

Trainee: Sorry I don’t understand.

Me: Here, let me just….

It’s a day’s work for IT workers, those beleaguered unsung heroes called in to mediate the contentious relationship between humans and workplace technology. Technical skills are just one part of a job demanding diplomacy, tact, and an inexhaustible supply of ways to ask grown adults to reboot or plug in their computers.

“In the trade, frequently used terms such as RTFM [Read the F—king Manual] and EBCAK [Error Between Chair and Keyboard] acronyms are woven into IT helpdesk lingo,” a project manager at a major UK-based financial services firm explained to Quartz.

He quoted one representative help desk ticket: “Their screen shows an ‘input required’ picture floating around the screen. The keyboard doesn’t work; neither does the mouse. Please help.” Resolution: Turn the computer on.

“My other favorite is called an ‘id10t’ problem,” he added. “Basically all where the user is a complete buffoon.”

A Reddit thread on this issue unearthed some other gems of incompetence. One IT worker landed in hot water after deleting the contents of an employee’s desktop recycle bin during after-hours maintenance. Apparently, the employee (a high-ranking manager) had been using the recycle bin specifically to store her most important documents.

Reported highlow33:

It was no longer a recycle bin (according to her) as she had downloaded a theme that changed the icon to a fat cat (skinny cat when empty).

Other memorable reasons tech professionals have been called to their colleagues’ desks (some posts have been lightly edited for clarity):

From Armadyne_Is_Google:

“With this monitor I don’t have the wallpaper of my dog”

From ctp722:

This woman (a professor) called my college helpdesk and told me her dead brother-in-law was controlling her PC. Turns out her batteries were going in her wireless mouse and the cursor was just moving around kinda funny.

From what_a_cat_astrophe:

Colleague: I’ve just had it with this computer! I can’t even find the Internet.

Me: You’re using it right now to see your Gmail.

Colleague: No no, this is my Google. I need the Internet.

From depends_party:

“Stop changing the Google logo”

For many IT workers, the most vexing parts of the job are not tech problems themselves, but users’ resistance to fixing them.


Other common complaints:

“The problem exists because you found it,” or the Schrödinger’s cat approach to tech support:

From Rivwork:

“Your hard drive is completely corrupt. If you listen you can actually hear it grinding on the inside there? There’s nothing I can reasonably do to fix that.”

“But I need my files.”

“I’m sorry. The drive is physically broken. I can’t recover anything from it.”

“I thought you were good with computers?!”


The helplessness defense:

From CtrlAltWhiskey:

I don’t get mad at people not knowing things anymore. That’s fine. Really, the things that miff me these days are:

“It’s not my job to learn how to do that”

“Oh I’m computer illiterate!”

“Computers hate me”

And of course, the infinite loop of blame.

From dubman42:

Everything works: Why do we even pay you IT guys?

One thing is broken: Why do we even pay you IT guys?

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

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