Wednesday Afternoon Work Story
*With apologies to forum member TikiTembo

Written By Solaris

A lot of what I've written lately has taken on a bit of an instructional tone - trying to make a point and drive it home with a personal, believable example. This time however, I've decided to take a break from that and just relate an interesting (and ultimately enjoyable) experience I had recently. So, without further ado, let's get stuck in, shall we?

It's probably no surprise to some readers that I work in the computing field. Geeks and computers? Those two things never go together! OK, terrible joke. Anyway, I work on a lot of business networks, which is usually fun because the equipment is expensive and does interesting things, but when something serious breaks, it can be a real pain to fix. On this occassion I was tearing my hair out with one particularly stubborn machine. Of all the computers to play up, this one belonged to the owner of a contracting and construction business. The damn thing kept on crashing while trying to access stored email, and all the usual causes had been eliminated (personal note - if you know enough about I.T. to know what those "usual causes" are - then yes, we really did try everything before we stumbled on the solution).

Andrew (the aforementioned owner) understandably didn't have time to sit around while I fiddled with his computer, so he handed responsibility for making sure it got fixed over to Kelly; one of the office girls. I was to work with her to find the solution to the problem, and she was supposed to followup with me regularly. Actually, before I continue, I think it's important for me to mention that I don't go looking for trouble when I'm working. I try to be professional even when people are going batshit insane because their computer is completely borked. Well, dealing with Kelly just about tipped me over the edge. It got to the point where I would contemplate strangling her every time I put down the phone after speaking with her. I don't know exactly what her problem was, but we definitely started off on the wrong foot.

Is It Fixed Yet?

"Whuuu... buh?" My phone's ringing. What? I look over at the clock. 6:45am? On a Monday? Who rings at this time?! Hmmm, it's Andrew's office; I put on my business voice.

"Solaris here. What can I do for you Andrew?"

"It's Kelly. Is Andrew's computer fixed yet?"

OK. They're a construction company. I get that they start early, but most businesses don't answer their phones before 8am at the earliest. Calling at 6:45 in the morning is more than a little rude.

"Well I haven't been in since yesterday Kelly. It's only 6:45am after all", I reminded her gently. "I really need to do some more research before coming in so that I'm not just messing around trying random solutions and getting nowehere. Perhaps if you call back a little later I'll have some more information for you."

"Fine. I'll call back later." *click*

Did... did she just hang up on me? Ugh, what was her problem? I turned over and dozed until my alarm went off at 7:30am and I had to start getting ready for work. Everything went pretty well and I was starting to get into my morning routine of taking care of late paperwork from the day before when the phone rang again. It's now 9:05am.

"Hello, Solaris here."

"Is it fixed yet?"

"Er, Kelly I assume?"

"Yes. So, what's the problem with Andrew's computer?"

"Kelly, I don't know what the problem is yet. If I did, it would be fixed already. We've been trying to figure out the cause for a week! None of the other computers are affected, which means it's probably not the server, but I'm not ruling it out because we've had trouble with it in the past. I'm going to talk to my colleagues to see if they have any ideas. I realise Andrew has given the responsibility for fixing his machine to you, but continually asking me if it's been fixed isn't going to get it fixed any faster."

"So when is it going to be fixed?"

Ugh, hadn't she heard a word I'd said? "Kelly, how about I get back to you as soon as I have some new information", I offered.

"OK, well we really need this working soon. Please try to make it a high priority." Kelly said as she hung up.

I was getting a bit annoyed at this point. You know, I understand the frustration. I've had to wait on someone else to fix a problem for me before so I know what it's like. But I sure never spoke to them like that. Putting my irritation out of my mind (but not before uttering a few of my favourite swear words), I got back to work. After dealing with the usual miscellaneous bits and pieces I spent a bit of time trying to find an answer to the mysterious problem with Andrew's computer.

Unfortunately, my Googling proved fruitless and the other guys I usually bounced ideas off weren't able to offer much help either. Hmmm... perhaps it wasn't a computer problem at all. Could it be the cabling? The office was brand new though, so surely all the cabling was tested prior to the completion of the job...

My train of thought was interrupted as the phone rang again. I looked down at the caller; Andrew's office again. I momentarily considered not answering it, then swore and picked it up. "Solaris here. Yes, Kelly?"

"Alright, I really need to know when this is going to be fixed. It's already 10 minutes past midday."

"Kelly, I did say I would call you when I had new information." This girl seemed to have a real attitude.

"So you've fixed it?"

My God! It all goes in one ear and out the other! "No, it's not fixed but I think I may have a cause. The cabling in that office could be damaged, so I'm going to test it." Surely that would placate her. Breathe deeply... be professional.

"OK, so when is it going to be fixed?"

NnnnnnnnnnGGGGGHHHHH. OK. OK ok ok. Enough of this. "I'll be in tomorrow with the necessary equipment, but I'm very busy right now so I really do have to go." I hung up immediately.

Holy Hyperactive Headcases, Batman!

I went in bright and early the next day with everything I needed to test my new theory. On the way in, I grimaced thinking about the reception that awaited me. The office manager met me at the door and immedidately introduced me to a girl whom she informed me was Kelly. Surely this couldn't be the same girl I had sparred with on the phone with the day before? This one was all smiles and bubbly to the point of effervescing. Talk about a wolf in sheep's clothing... The entire time I was there, as soon others were out of sight, she would take every opportunity to imply I must be doing something wrong or that I simply didn't know what I was doing. I also noticed that she didn't seem particularly interested in doing any of the jobs assigned to her during the day. Apparently her sole responsibilities were to hover over me and to complain about her "useless boyfriend" to the other office ladies.

After failing to find the problem and leaving defeated, I'd had pretty much enough of Kelly's Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde impersonation. But since the issue wasn't going to sort itself out, and I was getting paid, I decided to just grit my teeth and deal with it. I duly called Andrew's office at 9:00am the next morning and Kelly picked up the call.

"Hi Kelly. I just wanted to let you know I'll be in just after midday today."

"Are you going to fix Andrew's computer? Also, when are you going to fix my computer? You haven't even looked at it yet."

"Er... your computer?"

"Yes! The screen keeps going off! It's really annoying."

"Ummmm... This is the first time anyone has mentioned a problem with your machine. Why didn't you ask me yesterday?"

"Well I just figured you'd know about it. You're the computer guy! Can't you come in sooner?"

"Kelly, I'm already booked for this morning."

"Fine. Midday then. Bye"

I threw the phone into the corner of the room with disgust. I imagined looking around my desk for garotte wire. Perhaps I could sneak up on Miss Nutcase while she was busy complaining about something and strangle her for my own satisfaction and amusement. "Fucking fucking fuck fuck fuck. Fuck you! FUCK. YOU." Goddamn that felt good. What the hell was her problem?! Scratch that. I knew what her problem was. Nobody had ever told her "no" in her entire life, so she just treated everyone else as a convenience. I still, however, had a job to do so I was going back there whether I liked it or not, but I wondered if I shouldn't bring a spray bottle just in case she started hissing at me when I went near her.

Where's Kelly?

I finally walked in the door of Andrew's office on Wednesday afternoon, but there was no Kelly there. Instead, Andrew was sitting at his desk poking at his computer.

"Andrew! I'm surprised to see you in the office. I thought you were busy? Oh, and where's Kelly?

"She's gone", he replied with a slightly solemn voice.

"Er... gone?" I enquired.

"Yes, she's gone", he repeated for emphasis, this time with a slight smile. "I fired her at 11:00am this morning."

Wow. Just like that and she was out the door. "Ah. If you don't mind me asking, what was the problem?"

"No, you're OK to ask. Frankly, her attitude was a disgrace. I worked with her for two months to try and help her improve, but she insisted on arguing the point on everything I asked her to do. Moreover, she was up and down like a yo-yo - you never knew when she was going to be in a good mood or a bad mood. Not to mention that she was rude to everyone in the office - including my wife. I also wasn't impressed with the way she treated you." He said all of this in a matter-of-fact tone without any hint of malice.

Warm feelings of schadenfreude began to fill me and I smiled a little. There is justice after all! "Well I'm sorry it had to come down to that. I know it isn't pleasant to have to ask someone to leave."

"No, it's not, but she really didn't give me any opportunity to keep her on. Two months is long enough to work out how to do your job."

Epilogue

So that's it really. Kelly was booted out the door unceremoniously and I was finally able to get on with my work in peace. Andrew handled the whole thing with a certain amount of dignity really, but I was damned glad to see Kelly go. It was one less headache to deal with and things went surprisingly smoothly with her out of the way. Incidentally, we did finally track down the problem to an electrical fault that was intermittently interfering with network communications in Andrew's office - not your run-of-the-mill computer glitch!

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"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." -- Winston Churchill.

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