It's a bloody Friday afternoon. People should know not to bother us when all we're wanting is a slow glide to the weekend...
"Our system isn't working."
"Really," the PFY says, putting his newspaper down with a sigh. "What system is that then?"
"The one which does the ticker tape thing at the bottom of my web."
"So not really a system, more a java applet in your browser?"
"I don't know - all I know is that it's not working," the user burbles, "and I need it working. It was working this morning and it's not working now."
"OK," the PFY says helpfully, asking the standard IT support question - "What has changed?"
"Well it's afternoon now," the user responds.
"Yes, very good, but let me rephrase the question - What, TO DO WITH YOUR MACHINE, has changed?"
"You've not installed something, uninstalled something, moved something, plugged something in, unplugged something, changed a setting or two?"
"Used a different browser maybe?"
"What do you mean, different browser?"
"Nothing, just talking to myself," the PFY says, realising that he almost opened Pandora's hard drive. "Tell you what, I'll be up to have a look at it as soon as I can."
Which is complete porkies, as evidenced by the PFY's dive back into the newspaper.
That's the thing about non-specific complaints about 'the system' and 'not working' - they don't motivate you.
Moments later the phone rings again and I answer it so as not to disrupt the PFY's cartoons.
"I've got it too!" the user at the other end of the line gasps.
"Canine herpes?!" I gasp, picking two words at random from the sewer of my mind.
"WHAT?!" the user gasps back.
"Is this not the vet?" I reply, realising that whilst there's no motivation to get involved in user problems late on a Friday there's a rich seam of enthusiasm to be tapped when user torture is on the cards.
"Uh... No?" our user says, confused
"Oh, my mistake - you see I was just talking to the vet about the dog that was caught in the basement and had to be put down because of its.. uh... diseases. And when you rang and said you had it too..."
"I was talking about the software failures in accounts."
"Oh the java thing, not canine herpes?"
"Alright then, no problems. And you don't own a dog?"
"Ah... yes, but that's got nothing to do with it!"
"Of course not," I say, clicking my way furiously through my caller's personal documents to his photos folder. "Nothing at all. Anyway, the dog we captured was a... golden retriever with a red collar. You don't have a golden retriever with a red collar do you?"
"I... Yes, but it doesn't have canine herpes."
"However would you know that?" the PFY asks, smelling blood in the water, dropping his newspaper and jumping into the conversation. "I mean the vet had to take a blood sample to find that out for us! What sort of person tests their dog for canine herpes?"
"More importantly," I ask, pursuing the PFY's topic. "WHY would someone be routinely testing their dog for canine herpes? I mean I assume it's routinely by the way you said No instead of Not that I know of. That was fairly definitive..."
"I don't routinely test my dog for..."
"So it was a one-off test then?" the PFY interrupts "Something made you decide to test your dog? Maybe you had a party - a few close friends, a few too many drinks - things got out of hand - we've all been there."
"Except for the dog bit," I add
"WHAT?!?! I don't know what you're talking about - I'm just calling to say I can't get the financial information ticker tape thing to play on my screen!"
"Oh right!" I say. "So this has nothing to do with the dog in the basement?"
"Oh, right then! OK, I'll open a new job for you on the helpdesk system and it'll keep you updated. You'll get regular email updates or you can call the helpdesk if you need an urgent update. Your job reference code is... DOGHERPE - just use that if you need to know what's happening..."
"Yeah well, I'd already typed it in and clicked Next," I say. "Anyway, I've fired that off to the helpdesk and they'll be able to track the call for you."
"In fact," the PFY says, "you probably don't even need to remember the DOGHERPE bit because it'll be tied it back to your username - all you need to do is ring them."
"But if it makes it easier we could change your caller ID to that so that when you run the helpdesk it would show up on their display??" I add
. . seconds later . .
"Well he's never calling back," I say, hanging up from handsfree. "EVER. About anything. Demons from hell could be using his USB key as a portal to this universe and he won't touch the phone..."
"It's God's work," the PFY says, reaching for his newspaper once more.
. . .