How not to talk to me when I’m there to help

“Are you the computer dude?” the lady asked, challenge in her voice.

I stopped talking to the customer I had been helping and turned around to face the woman who had spoken. I thought about how Ken and I had been literally stopped at the door as we were leaving for the day two days ago and not allowed to leave until we’d agreed to show up and unplug this work unit’s computers while their cubicles were being rebuilt.

I thought about all the other projects that were not getting accomplished because two trained computer techs were being used as movers; the deployments that weren’t getting done, the people who were still struggling with failing hardware that would not have a working PC until these PCs were back up and running.

I thought about having to solve problems on this move the night before long after my work shift had ended, problems like how to plug n a computer in a cubicle that had been rebuilt without power outlets anywhere within 25 feet. A computer setup that included the PC, two monitors, and a printer.

I thought about the frustration of all the work that has been piling up, more work than my 3 person team could possibly do, and how it all seemed to be “top priority” to my boss and the customers.

And I snapped a little.

“I am a computer dude, and my name is Brian.”

“Well, are we going to get our computers today?” she asked.

Again, I reminded myself that I was just one person, that I had just spent a frustrating morning coming in early, ransacking the storage areas of two different buildings looking for the cords and cables I needed to make sure everyone here was up and running before the office opened at 8 AM, and how I was currently in the middle of squeezing one lady’s PC, two monitors, inkjet printer, label printer, and flatbed scanner into a cube that was about 20% smaller than the old, crowded cubicle she had two days ago. I smiled back at the lady challenging me, perhaps a bit too feral-y. “Yes, ma’am. That is what I am here to do.”

She went away.

Later, when I was in the process of setting up her computer, she walked up to me and said, “Thank you for this. I am sorry. I am sorry I was a bitch.”

“Thank you. And I am sorry for snapping at you. I know how hard it is to move. It’s been a long week for me.” And I proceeded to ask her for her preferences in how she wanted her computer set up.

Work is hell lately. Lots of folk are feeling the strain.