Today is my friends last day at the company we both work at. I actually got this part-time job because of him! He is moving on and up to a company that is better suited for him and his goals, and I could not be more happy or relieved for him. For months, even before I started working with him, I have listened to him complain almost endlessly about his job. He is in IT so that means that most days are hectic and some days are just plain HELL for him. Truthfully, I wouldn’t want his job in a million years, but luckily he really does enjoy working on computers and back up systems and other boring stuff. However, what he does not enjoy is the constant requests of impatient and ungrateful people. We depend on our technology for almost everything today (ESPECIALLY in the business world), from calendars on our cellphones to word documents on our computers, which unfortunately means that when these things stop working we tend to freak out… just a little. So we call IT. “Help! Come quick! I have a million things to do today and I need my computer back up and running NOW, or sooner.” I think we can all admit that we have given into our dark side whenever our technology is not working as expected. Most of my childhood memories of my father were basically a rotation of him banging his desk, yelling “DANG NABBIT!”, or just screaming “AGGGHHHHHH” as he worked from home on his computer. Luckily, his Mac now days is a lot more user friendly, so his phone gets the brunt of that. But almost everyone can relate to that lost, panicked and angry feeling that rushes over you when your computer freezes and you lose that whole document you had been working on but forgot to save (which is still not an acceptable excuse for professors sadly). Anyone that talks to you while this is happening is basically walking into a war zone just asking to be a target! Luckily though, there are some brave soldiers that volunteer to run into these battle grounds and rescue us! Never fear, IT is here! Unfortunately, IT seems to rarely be treated as the hero in this situation. People seem to forget who the enemy is and fire their anger at the very person who is trying to help them! Our anger at the situation of fallible technology quickly turns to impatience towards the person who is not fixing it fast enough. And heaven forbid there is a line of people before me with needs, because you me and my job is clearly the most important things here so I should be at the top of your list!
It is this attitude that my friend has faced day in and day out. We have had extensive conversations about the way the people at this company have treated him, and the things he hated most was this entitled attitude of “me first”, and the ungratefulness of the people he helped. I watched my friend pour his heart and soul into his job, working longer than 8 hour days, hardly eating, taking his work home with him and even driving the hour commute into work to do projects on the weekend! He slaved away trying to update the systems and make them more dependable and fail safe; yet not once did I hear him complain about this. It was simply about the people and how they did not appreciate his work, or even slightly comprehend how much he had done for them. It is behind the scenes kind of work, and he was the puppeteer that kept the whole show running, yet received no credit. This constant berate of impatience and ungratefulness wore him to the bone. When I started my part time receptionist job, he had already worked at the company for months. I was shocked that the person I saw at work was a completely different person. The fun, mild mannered, “The office” quoting guy that I knew was replaced by a hunched over, zombie like looking person that wandered past my desk constantly looking dejected, tired and overwhelmed. I tried in vain to lift his spirits, but it was nearly impossible and I soon learned to not even talk to him when he was in this state. Previous to working with him, I thought perhaps he was just a rather negative worker or maybe made things seem really bad because he just had a bad attitude. After I started working with him, I still didnt fully understand because the same people he had complained about for months were so nice and friendly towards me! It wasn’t till I stopped to truly think about his situation and to listen to what he was really saying that I realized the problem.
So, I guess the point of this entry pretty much turned into be nice to your IT person! When technology (or anything) makes you upset, take a second to calm down and make sure that your anger is not directed at the person trying to help you. Yes, it may be their job to fix something, but it is NOT their job to deal with your anger or bad attitude, and while your needs may be urgent, you are NOT the most important person in the world, or maybe even your office. Truthfully, most of your tasks can probably wait 10-15 minutes and you need to take a quick walk in the sunshine anyways because it will make you even more productive studies show. What you can not afford to do is burn out the person who is trying to help you by aiming your impatience and anger at them. They are people too, with just as many frustrations and things on their plate as you. So take the time to stop and actually recognize how they are helping you. EXPRESS your gratitude to them, not simply with a flippant “thanks”, but with a heartfelt “Thank you so much for your time and effort and for getting to me so fast! You are a life saver!”. Make them feel like the hero that they are, and maybe every now and then try to go beyond just saying thank you and show your appreciation. Like I wrote in my last entry, find a way that you can truly brighten their day, instead of pulling them into the darkness that you may be in. It will not only make you feel better than being angry would have, but could also save that other person from getting burned out and after awhile giving up and leaving for another job. Choose to make the environment that you work in a positive one, and people will not only stay, but will thrive.
So to my IT friend who is leaving today, I wish you all the best and I hope that your new job is wonderful and encouraging. I hope you are surrounded by people that are patient and grateful, and that truly appreciate your hard work and make you feel like a hero, because you are! Thank you for being brave enough to handle people at their worst, and for still doing your best. Thank you for all the times you have rescued me from the evils of technology, and for the insane amount of work that you put into this place. We may not see it, but this company and place will be better every day from here on because of the work that you did. We are blessed in ways you can not imagine simply because you “did your job”. Good luck and you will be greatly missed!
To any other readers, who do you need to stop and thank today?