Things I Have Really Been Asked

Every single one of the items in this list is something that I’ve been asked to do in at one point or another during the last four years of my professional life.  No items are embellished, only specific details are left out to protect the person making the request.

Funny questions I’ve been asked

  • “How do I make my site come up first when you type …… in Google?”
  • “Google doesn’t have the full name of the public safety building on their map, can you change it?”
  • “My son was listed in the Parethenon as having been arrested for a crime in 1999. His name is still in their newspaper, can you remove it?”
  • “Do you have a copy of the 1954 Chief Justice that you can send me?” – You mean online?  “No, an actual copy.”
  • “Why doesn’t my course in MUOnline have any content in it?”  – How long ago did you create the content?   “What?”
  • “I’ve been asked to create a site for my department, and I have a couple of questions.”   Sure, what can I help you with.  “Well, first off, how do you build a web page?”
  • “My cable company is blocking me from connecting to anything at Marshall. Can you help?”

Weird phone calls I’ve recieved

  • “Can you tell me where you go to get a new copy of your drivers license?”
  • “Is this Marshall IT?”  Yes, how can I help you?   “Do you remember my son…..?  He worked there 12 years ago and thinks he might have left a computer disk there.”
  • “I’m calling for my son – he can’t get connected to the internet.”   Oh, ok, is he using his connection for his phone?   “Oh, no, he’s over in Tower’s, he just asked me to call.”
  • “Is this the WV State Police?”  No, this is Marshall University.  “Well, my daughter was murdered three years ago, and I think I know who did it, I need to talk to someone about what I’ve found out.”   Ok, well, this is the IT department at Marshall University.   Do you need me to help you find the number for the State Police?

Weird walk up questions

  • “Do you know where I can find books on tape?”
  • “Do you have any Clorox bleach?”
  • “Did you just see a mouse run by?”
  • “Did you see any rain dripping through the ceiling?”
  • “Is there any food in your office?”

Things heard over my cubicle wall over the years

  • Whispers (like the others on LOST)
  • “Jackass!”
  • “I’ve got all things that are good.”
  • “I’m old Greeeeggg.”
  • “I Wanna know where the Gold at”
  • “Bacon!”

It’s never boring, that’s for sure.


Tired, Old, Angry, and Worn

I spent the better part of the day today dealing with unhappy people.   The morning started with an unhappy student who didn’t understand why because she couldn’t effectively use web publishing software, we couldn’t just do the job her department hired her as a GA to do for free.

She then preceded to write me a lengthy email describing to me all the things that were wrong with the way I did my job.   This is after I had personally, or someone in my group had, spent a not small number of hours trying to help her impress the people she was trying to impress, and make her a success at the project she was trying to pull off.

Flash forward to just before lunch, and I exchanged emails with an unpleasant coworker who has a nasty habit of focusing on trivial things like background colors on web pages during finals week when we’re trying to both close down Spring, and get the Summer sessions in startup.

After lunch, I got to read through another in an endless string of increasingly restrictive and unnecessary travel policies designed to make sure that if you’re ever dumb enough to travel on the State once, you’ll never do it again.

After digesting that gem (a favorite of mine given that I have a long and sordid history with travel reimbursements) I fought with a system issue that I didn’t completely understand – made somehow worse when it suddenly started working and I didn’t understand why.

Just before leaving, my phone rang and it was a very sweet, but clearly frustrated person on the other end of the line who was trying to accomplish what should have been a simple task – but do to an uncooperative system just wasn’t able.   She and I, both at the end of our patience for the day, decided to call it a day and try it again in the morning.

I left work for an appointment, and after an hour of being offline, opened my email to 16 unread items related to performance issues that are sure to spawn necessary but painfully derailing discussions tomorrow.

Finally, I came home to an IRS audit notice.   It was at that point that I sat down to rant out my frustration and say what I’d be longing to say all day but couldn’t find the appropriate time.

Fuck today.  Fuck today hard.  I hope it dies.


Haters gonna hate

Yesterday, the singer/guitarist and primary songwriter of the band Fall Out Boy, Patrick Stump, wrote a lengthy post on his blog  about the frustrations he’s been dealing with personally and emotionally since the band fell out of favor a few years ago.   I’ve shared it with a few people, because though the average persons situation differs from Stumps in a lot of ways, some of the basic frustrations he talks about resonate with me.

Some of the things Stump says in his post that jumped out at me:   When talking about going out on tour in support of his solo album and encountering fans who were less than appreciative of his performances – “What I wasn’t prepared for was the fervor of the hate from people who were ostensibly my own supporters (or at least supporters of something I had been part of). The barrage of “We liked you better fat,” the threatening letters to my home, the kids that paid for tickets to my solo shows to tell me how much I sucked without Fall Out Boy, that wasn’t something I suppose I was or ever will be ready for.  That’s dedication. That’s real palpable anger.”      On talking about trying to please past fans with new work – “there will still be 10-20 percent of the audience there to tell me how shitty whatever it is I’m doing is and how much better the thing I used to do was.”

I can sympathize with his frustrations.   I realize I run the risk of sounding like an increasingly old, angry, codger (which I suppose to some extent I’m becoming), but it seems like the loudest voices of dissent and dissatisfaction these days come from people who have personally accomplished the least.

They can’t show any demonstrated success in things they’ve created, contributed to, or thought of – but they’re the first to jump up to shout down someone else’s attempts to try something new.    It’s frustrating, it’s disheartening, it makes everything less fun, and it makes you want to just turn your back on them and walk away sometimes.

I expressed it to a friend of mine in this way:  “You can tell them ‘I created this according to your specifications, am delivering to you at the date and time you requested, and I’m going to blow you while you take receipt of it” and they’d still tell you ‘You suck’.

Bottom line – if you’re not willing to do it better yourself, don’t criticize someone else.