Back in the 1980s, in my first real job in IT, my boss frantically called me into her office, to help her with a problem with her modem. When she turned on the modem, the lights did not come on — or so she thought. It turns out that the modem was facing away from her, so she could not see the lights. I bundled the wires in the back, turned the modem to face her, and patiently explained the layout of the modem, so she would know what to do if the modem accidentally got turned around again. She believed a wire had come loose, and there was no reason to tell her otherwise, nor to make her feel stupid.
Fast forward a few years, to when I was responsible for training and technical support for people using an enterprise mainframe-based administrative computer system. A man called, upset that he was unable to log in to do his work. When I arrived at his office a few minutes later, we discovered that his always-on computer terminal was unplugged. After plugging in the terminal, we discussed its layout, including the power cord, keyboard, and power switch. Since the terminal had been located underneath a live hanging plan, we moved it to a safer location, a few feet away.
A few years later, on my first day in a new position, a young lady approached me, stating that her computer was dead. When I asked if she was using a computer terminal or a PC, after I showed her one of each, she didn’t know. As it turned out, this person typified the level of sophistication in the department. Quite frankly, it was really just an opportunity to mentor, and to turn techno-angst into fun. At my insistence, we started a geek-of-the-month award, with a pocket protector given to the non-technical staff member who did something out of the ordinary with technology. Awards were given to people for doing things like editing files on the mainframe or for uploading a file — tasks usually done by technical staff. People learned new things using technology, and had fun in the process! Believe it or not, some people lobbied hard to get the award. YES!!!
So, what do all these people have in common? Although some would claim that they suffer from ID 10 T syndrome, that could not be further from the truth. All are intelligent, successful, and highly-educated — many with advanced degrees, including PhD degrees. Of course, they all suffered from some degree of technology frustration, and benefited from mentoring.
I would like to personally thank each and every person who gave me the opportunity to develop expertise in Technology Frustration Remediation®. Everybody is good at something, but for many, that does not necessarily include technology.