Leave a Tip: Teachable Moments

November 8, 2020

As someone who is “good with computers” can tell you, sometimes you have to brave into the wilderness of the unknown. And by unknown I mean those that don’t know about computers. Yes, even in this life of glamour, high praise, and complete control of integrated circuits, there will be times you have enlighten one of your friends or family members on how it all works. But, don’t look at this as a time to complain or get frustrated. That time will come later, when they’re no longer in the room and you’re trying to sort all your desktop icons back into the groups in which they started.

Now, let’s make this as simple as possible. They have a problem and you need to deliver a solution. As with any good project, you’ve just defined the requirements. Add that to your resume. Find out what it is they want you to do. Perhaps it’s something simple like telling them how to start looping through an array from the position of -3. But keep in mind, it could be much harder. They may want you to clean up spilled coffee from their keyboard or remove a pet hamster from a power supply. It’s always good to know what you’re dealing with before agreeing to a verbal contract.

If you do verbally agree to helping them after defining the issue, stay true to your word. Let them know that you take multiple forms of payment: Bud Lite, assorted IPAs, shots, or anything else to help you forget the next few hours. Plus, depending on the technical level of your apprentice, you may need the social lubrication. While doing the work, remember never to allow scope creep. This is important in any project. Your social contract was air-tight: The computer was “running slow” and you’re here to fix it. So, backup the data, reinstall Windows, and install only the essentials. Simple. You could probably have it done in about six beers and two shots, given the appropriate number of bathroom breaks. 

Once you’re done, make sure the apprentice is happy with the results. Let them know that upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 10 might be a little jarring at first, but they’ll get used to it. And above all, remain professional. Only tell them jokes they won’t understand, like calling something a “layer 8” issue or telling them there was a PEBCAK short in the system, but with a little time, effort, and alcohol you were able to resolve it. 

After it’s all done, then it’s time to call an Uber to take you home. You can always come back for your car tomorrow. Remember to never drink and commute, but always drink and compute.

Remember, we’re on this team together. I’m on call if you need me.

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