IT Disaster Of The Week (01-03-20)

Cabling Tim Sauer Jan 3, 2020

Today's photo caption: Not a valid method for improving network speeds. 

Welcome back to Tech Service Today's IT Disaster of the Week series where we usually showcase the ugliest IT environment our technicians ran into this week. But this week's photo is actually from a few years ago, and we chose to use it for a specific reason: the tale behind this bizarre image is ideally suited for our first post of the new year because it happened in a retail Vision/eyeglasses store where 2020 vision is always their goal.

This story was shared with us by Derek Gravitt Jr, formerly the Hardware Specialist Supervisor at National Vision – one of the largest optical retailers in the United States that operates over 950 retail locations under the brand names America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, Eyeglass World, Vision Centers by Walmart, Vista Optical, and the on-base Optical Centers at most of the US Military Exchanges throughout the United States.

“A few years back” Mr. Gravitt told me, “we had an older gentleman – probably in his late-50’s - employed as a front-desk receptionist at one of our retail centers. He called our central help desk one day pleading with us to make his computer run faster because he had a line of customers out the door and it was taking far too long for him to enter each transaction.” 

After proving himself unable to provide the Help Desk with the information they needed to identify his computer (IP address, model number, operating system, etc.), he had to wait until the Help Desk team could find it through an asset database. At that point, the Help Desk staffer informed the elderly Retail employee that he was now going to take control of his PC to perform a speed test and other diagnostics.

Mr. Gravitt said that, upon seeing a mouse cursor start moving around on his screen, the conversation progressed like this:

Retail Clerk:  “What the heck is that thing moving around on my screen?”

Help Desk:  “It’s just your mouse cursor…we’ve temporarily taken control of it.”

Retail Clerk:  “I’ve never seen that thing before….what’s a mouse?”

Help Desk:  “It’s that thing sitting on the desk beside your computer…the device you use to navigate from one screen to the next when you are checking customers out.”

Retail Clerk:  “I don’t have anything sitting on the desk beside my computer except my coffee.”

Help Desk (Perplexed):  “Then how do you navigate from one screen to the next when you run customers through the checkout process?”

Retail Clerk:  “I just use the Tab and Arrow keys to move around.”

Help Desk:  “You’ve got to be kidding?  It’s so much easier using the mouse." After a moment of silence, he continued: "A mouse is a hump-shaped device that should be connected by a thin cable to the back of your computer.  Don’t you see something like that?”

Recognizing the description, the elderly Retail Clerk asked “Do you mean my foot-rest?

At some point prior to this gentleman being hired, the mouse stopped working and was probably tossed behind the computer by a frustrated employee where it eventually slipped behind the desk and landed on the floor.  Being completely unfamiliar with computers prior to starting his job, this older retail clerk spent several years using only a keyboard to navigate a GUI software platform, while resting his tired feet on the mouse. 

While I concede that a wheel-mouse has the potential of delivering a therapeutic foot massage, this creative repurposing of technology is not the point of our story.  Rather, it is to shine light on the significant technological (and geographic) divide that separates centralized Retail IT Help Desk staffs from the remote store employees whom they often rely on to assist them in the triage of remote systems.

As IT professionals, one of our New Year's resolutions should be to recognize that not everyone understands IT hardware, cabling, systems and networks the way we do. So we must strive to be patient with people less technologically-adept as us....even when we find those people stomping their foot on a computer mouse trying to speed up the network.



Check back every Friday for TST's latest IT Disaster of the Week photo

which represents one of the thousands of customer sites our technicians visit every year as they install and service IT, networking, and telecom equipment & cabling for our clients. (You can also enter your email address in the Subscribe box to the right and we'll send you an email every time a new IT Disaster photo gets posted.)

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