Tuesday, May 27, 2008

But it's still my fault

It's hard to find something nice to say about our InterWeb stations. I'd call them computers, but they really aren't. They are "Thin Clients," which are just little boxes that can take input from the user, send it to a central server (in our case across the county), get it processed and send it back. From the average InterWeb user's standpoint it walks and quacks like a computer, though. Thin Clients can be nice since they are harder to tamper with and easier to upgrade software, since one upgrade on the server side upgrades all the clients. But since it looks and quacks like a computer, people have rather exaggerated notions of what they can really do and what we poor deskslaves can do with them. Case in point: When you sit down at one of these sweet babies and log in, you get one hour. That's it. Sixty minutes and not a second more. It tells you that on a sign before you sit down and tells you that when you log in and 6 or so minutes before it boots you off it will remind you of this fact and THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT. It doesn't matter to the server on the other side of the county how important it is, the horrid little box is kicking you off after sixty minutes exactly. I am regularly petitioned by frantic users who need more time. But time is not mine to give. Even if I desperately wanted to, I could no more extend your time than I could extend your life.

When people come up to the desk frantic and upset, I try to be compassionate (and you can probably guess just how hard that is for me), but some people are just too angry to get much sympathy. I had one such person today. The peabrain pseudocomputer had already restarted itself and she needed somebody at whom to blow off steam. Or something equally hot but more toxic than steam. I was the lucky recipient. Even though she was not nice about it at all, I was still being being sympathetic until she told me that it wasn't "just writing, it was creative writing." I had to hear that several times. It was creative writing. It was creative writing. It was CREATIVE writing. This seemed to imply that a) the writing of others was of the non-creative variety; b) creative writing has special properties denied to lesser kinds of writing sparing it from the oblivion suffered by such lesser writing (scribbling, really); and c) the creativity of this writing would empower the deskslave to perform a task beyond his previously and exhaustively elaborated (lack of) capabilities. But the precious writing, creative though it was, went into the bit bucket, and now the world is less. And I am less because I had to stand here and take it while the crappiness of our equipment was drilled into me.

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