Dealing with Difficult Users Page 2




Deb Shinder

Ida Incompetent

Ida is the user who, completely devoid
of any malevolent intent, can utterly devastate her computer and/or the network
faster than a speeding bullet. She means well, and tries hard to follow your
instructors, but it’s as though her body chemistry emanates some unseen force
that is lethal to computer hardware and software. She can do every step by the
book, and still the system crashes.

At first you may think poor Ida just happened to inherit bad hardware. But
moving her to a different machine or giving her a brand new one doesn’t cure the
problem; each system she touches suddenly begins to exhibit strange behavior and
unusual errors, even though she swears on a stack of Bibles (and you believe
her) that she did nothing to provoke such a reaction. You can even stand there
and watch her, verifying that she didn’t nothing out of the ordinary, and
the system merrily crashes or the network disappears for no apparent reason.

Most admins have encountered at least one or two Idas in their careers. In
many ways, she is the most frustrating of the problem user types, because you
can’t really get mad at her. She’s a victim of the technology that, to all
appearances, just doesn’t like her. She apologizes profusely each time she has
to call you. Although you may be skeptical at first, you’re likely to eventually
give up trying to explain the phenomenon and agree with her own assessment of
the situation: when it comes to computers, she’s cursed.

Dealing with Ida requires a lot of patience and a cultivated bedside manner.
Showing your frustration will only make her feel worse – which may result in
her being hesitant to let you know the next time there’s a problem (and thus,
making the problem that much worse by the time you do discover it). Ida requires
a little handholding, a lot of reassurance, and, if you can swing it, maybe an
exorcist to purge the demons that inhabit every system with which she comes in
contact.

It’s much easier to feel sorry for Ida than for her fellow “problem
child, Sally Secretkeeper.

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