If it Ain’t Broke…

To fully appreciate my disappointment you must understand how desperately I wanted to be impressive on my first computer support call. I was brand new employee for the only computer company willing to give me my first hands-on experience helping non-relatives with computer problems. My boss took a big gamble by hiring me. He ended my final interview with "I believe you might be a diamond-in-the-rough so come in next Monday and let's see what happens." I felt pressure.

My first official service call sent me to fix a simple printer problem for a client named Joan. I arrived at Joan's office during lunchtime so I had her troubled computer all to myself. I was psyched, hyped, amped and eager to prove the insightfulness of my boss. While taking a seat at her desk I made a silent vow to go "above and beyond the call of duty."

The printer fix was easy—a loose cable. Then one look at Joan's desk and computer and I was filled with inspiration. I suddenly knew how I was going to impress. "Just wait until Joan sees what I can do for her." I mouthed. Then, rolling up my sleeves, I dove in.

Her mouse pad was crooked and far too close to the monitor. I repositioned it to a place more comfortable for a "normal" person's reach (the same position as mine at home). I also scrubbed it with a moist towel which, to my surprise, changed the color from dark green to light green. Wow. Who knew it was that light? Score!

On the actual computer screen her desktop was so packed with icons that some were on top of each other. I moved the recycle bin to the lower right corner of the screen (like mine at home). Some of the icons I knew she wasn't using because they were practically hidden and the dates on them were over a year old. I just deleted them. Right-clicking and selecting "Arrange All" performed an instant miracle, reorganizing the rest of her icons -alphabetically! How could she not love that?

Her desktop background was a horrid pink color that was brighter than any neon sign I'd seen. I changed it to a soothing blue (a bit like mine at home) and adjusted the contrast to make it easier on Joan's eyes.

Her keyboard sat totally flat. I flipped it over and extended the two small feet at the top that tilt the keyboard at an angle. Ahhh, it was much better! I found typing so much easier for me this way.

Finally, I noticed her printer was robbing her of valuable desk space. I moved it to a perfect spot on the floor under her desk where her feet wouldn't kick it. I couldn't wait to show her. I played out the scenario in my mind over and over: She'd ask where her printer was and I'd reveal its new hideaway with the same excitement as the opening of a "Price Is Right" curtain.

Joan came back from lunch. I'd stuck around to share in her glee.

Things didn't go down exactly as planned. OK, nothing as planned. By the time I finished explaining the dramatic improvements to Joan's desk and computer she was nibbling her bottom lip really fast and looking at me as though I had just wrecked her car. In the next excruciating moments, I learned that the keyboard felt weird to her, she hated the screen color, didn't want to bend down to reach the printer, wondered where I had put her old mouse pad and wanted to know where the %@&# all her icons went. Indeed, I was accused of wrecking her professional environment. I felt tingly all over -the bad kind of tingly.

Well, I stuck around much longer to restore each of Joan's preferences between my sincere apologies to her.

Fortunately, I've grown up now (professionally). It was a painful lesson. I've learned that few people ever want anything changed on or around their computer -no matter how "different" or messy it may look. Joan cured me of my need to be a computer aesthetics technician.

Now when I walk away from a computer I've fixed, I try to leave it with absolutely nothing changed except the problem. Anything more crosses the line --like taking the liberty to change the programmed radio stations in your friend's car. Leave it alone, man. They just freak out.

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