I was called down to the news desk, being told in an angry tone that "YOUR computers are dead AGAIN". Yeah. When something isn't working they're MY computers, but when I want to upgrade software or do preemptive work on them, they're NOT mine.
Not even having come fully through the door, the impatient caller - Ms Angry - greeted me with "ABOUT TIME, we're already late for deadline!".
She was actually right for once, I *was* later than usual. About three minutes worth, due to my printing of a A3 sized poster and finding some tape. After all, I had been waiting for this.
In my nine years of newspaper business experience, people who consider themselves more important than their co-workers never answer truthfully if it means taking responsibility for their actions. Hence, I consider asking those relatively few what the problem is mostly just an efficient way of keeping them busy while I figure out the real problem.
This time I didn't say a word, just bent down by Ms Angry's desk and did one second of IT magic. I told everybody to power on their computers, walked over to the adjacent wall, and taped my new poster to it.
NEWS DESK IT RULES:
1. DON'T MOVE THE COMPUTERS FROM THE OUTLETS MARKED "PC/MONITOR" TO $5 POWER STRIPS TO MAKE ROOM FOR KITCHEN APPLIANCES
2. IF YOU BREAK #1, PLEASE DON'T PUT THE POWER STRIP ON THE FLOOR
3. IF YOU BREAK #2, PLEASE MAKE SURE NOBODY STEPS ON SAID STRIP'S ON/OFF BUTTON
4. IF YOU BREAK #3, PLEASE TURN *ON* THE STRIP'S ON/OFF BUTTON AND START YOUR COMPUTERS *BEFORE* CALLING IT SUPPORT
5. IF YOU BREAK #4, PLEASE LEARN FROM THIS EXPERIENCE SO YOU DON'T WASTE MORE OF YOUR CO-WORKERS TIME
6. IF YOU BREAK #5 TO MANY TIMES, WE WILL GIVE YOU THIS POSTER IN HOPE OF HELPING YOU HELP YOURSELVES
The very next day my boss summoned me to his office, where he told me I should be more patient with people who weren't as tech savvy as me, being very serious about it and asking me to apologize in person. I said he was right, and that I would.
At the news desk, populated with journalists of 150+ IQ - in my country, journalism studies aren't even second to medical studies when it comes to acceptance requirements - I, the lowly computer guy said, perhaps not very humbly:
- Someone complained to my boss that the poster I put up yesterday is rude and patronizing, and wants me to remove it. For that I am genuinely sorry. (some snickering in the background. these people know their way around words). I clearly misunderestimated you (even more snickering; thanks for the word, Dubya), so every time someone accidentally steps on the power button beneath this desk (patting Ms Angry's desk two times), feel free to call me down here to fix it - and no worries, I promise I won't be patronizing. Believe me, I know that button can be a bitch to figure if you're not as tech savvy as me. (open laughter, someone in the back actually giving a short round of applause)
A few days later I met my boss in the hall. -Good job apologizing!, he said, and continued lecturing me in the importance of treating people with respect.