The Chronicles of George

Frequently Asked Questions About George

"This can't be for real!" and "Is he a native English speaker?" are the two most popular questions I get sent via e-mail. With those as a starting point, I will address some of the most popular questions I get, so that I don't have to keep typing the same thing over and over and over again.

You're joking! These can't be real! No one is that bad!

If you think that, you've never worked in a call center before. If you think that and you have worked in a call center, then you didn't work in a very diverse one, or a very large one. Yes, there are bobs out there who are just as bad as the caller in the worst tech support story you've ever heard. I happened to work with one of them for more than a year.

Does this guy still work at your place of business? Do YOU still work there?!

I was employed at this particular company from January 2000 to September 2001. George was employed there from approximately March 2000 to May 2001.

So, come on, man! Spill it! Was he fired, or what? Were YOU fired?

George was caught in a massive layoff that the company experienced in May 2001. 50% of the staff was let go, along with George. It is important to note that even though he was let go, it wasn't because of his stupidity or incompetence, but rather because he drew the proverbial short straw. I was neither laid off nor fired; in late August, I received a job offer from a giant multinational aerospace megacorp and decided to take it, as they were offering about 20% more money and the office was within walking distance of my apartment (the 50 mile round-trip through Houston rush hour traffic each way was really starting to get to me). My last day was September 7, 2001.

For what it's worth, I worked there for almost nine years; first as a desktop support guy, then as a Windows & Linux sysadmin, then a SAN administrator, and finally as an enterprise storage architect responsible for the care and feeding of more than ten petabytes of storage. I've since left that company and now work for one of the storage vendors with which I developed a great relationship over the years.

It's obvious George doesn't natively speak English. Shame on you for making fun of someone just because he can't speak the language!

I assure you, George is a native English speaker. He is 100% American. He was born and has for his entire life lived in Houston, TX.

OK, then, if he's a native English speaker, then he must be developmentally challenged or handicapped or something!

Not to my knowledge. He appeared a normally functioning individual, albeit one with a habit of attending raves every weekend. Draw your own conclusions.

George has dyslexia, and you're a cruel bastard for making fun of him. I'm going to kick your ass!

This is an accusation I receive at least once a week (and it's usually a badly spelled accusation). I've corresponded with a number of dyslexic people and the consensus is that even if George IS dyslexic—which I admit is a possibility—there's no excuse for the stuff he writes. ANYONE could copy and paste a block of text (like a work log) into Word, let Word spell and grammar check that block of text, and then copy it back into Remedy. A six year old child could do it, provided he or she was told exactly how to do it.

We explained to George how to do this and we gave him exact instructions. More than once. I'd like to think that he had the competence of at least a six year old child, so I can only attribute his mangled tickets to laziness. Dyslexia is forgivable—it affects a huge number of people through no fault of their own. Forgetfulness is forgivable—I forget stuff all the time, and so does everyone else. But fourteen months worth of mangled, fucked up tickets? Besides "outright stupidity," find me an excuse that works. Go ahead. Find one.

When you come right down to it, it's not about his inability to write coherent tickets—it's about him working at a job for which he was profoundly unsuited, and fucking it up for the rest of us. It's difficult to take pride in your work when your department is a joke to the rest of the company, and it's difficult to not feel resentment when it all stems from a single person's gross incompetence.

Remedy ARS has a spellchecker. If you weren't such a cruel asshole who obviously likes making fun of dyslexic people, you would have enabled it!

Here's the poop on Remedy and spellchecking, straight from the mouth of a dev:

"As a Remedy Developer, I can tell you that Remedy does NOT have a spellchecker! Any Remedy installation that has a spellchecker is using the spellchecker feature from another application. A developer has to create a button and OLE commands to the application with a spellchecker. Using Word is the only easy way to implement a spellchecker, and that's because it is the example in their Programmer's Guide for OLE Automation."

So, that's why we didn't use the spellchecker. I wasn't in charge of our Remedy implementation and didn't have any kind of rights on the server, and my manager didn't want to put in the effort to make the change. (Thanks, H!)

You're part of the problem, Mr. Smarty-Pants Webmaster! You should have tried to help him out instead of making fun of him, you moron!

I heartily agree with the spirit of this question. The problem is, it just ain't so.

George was a non-technical person. My boss knew this when she hired him, but at the time, our company was in fairly early start-up mode and we were hiring bodies very quickly. The need was for someone to answer the phone, do some basic troubleshooting out of a binder full of ready-made solutions, and pass the work on to desktop support if it became complicated.

No biggie. Even a non-technical person can read solutions out of a binder, and so George was hired. His interviews were mere formalities—he was guaranteed the job, because my boss and George knew each other from years of school (high school, and back before that as well).

Time passed. It became apparent that George wasn't really interested in putting any effort into improving himself, in spite of the fact that he was being faced with an amazing opportunity. Imagine: someone with no computer skills being hired to do a job where he would be guaranteed to be given the necessary tools and knowledge to accomplish his tasks. Paid training—every day answering questions means being exposed to new things. In the rapidly atrophying world of the early 2000s Internet economy, any person who gave a damn would have been all over it.

George? Nope.

He simply didn't improve. Help desk had those binders full of information about common problems—how to unlock accounts, how to change passwords, how to dial into the network via RAS, how to connect with VPN, how to change screen resolution, check for low disk space, remove programs—tons of things that they might face in the field.

George wouldn't look in the binder unless he was told to do so, repeatedly. He would just sit there and leech. Imagine George sitting with three other guys in the help desk fishbowl, all on the phone, with George badgering EVERYONE with a question he has the tools to solve himself ("She says her computer is slow. What do I do?"). For the first few months, everyone held his hand. We would answer his questions with absolute patience, and guide him to the correct answers. We held training sessions for George and the other help desk guys who had little or no experience. Helpdeskers were attached to the hip of a desktops support guy to go with him to fix problems, to get hands-on experience.

The problem is that George didn't learn. He just didn't care. When he was attached to my hip and walking with me on calls, he would stare off into space or not pay attention while I was explaining the problem and the fix to him. He would call in sick on training days, or doodle instead of taking notes. He simply REFUSED to do ANYTHING to improve.

After a half-year or so, the rest of support began resenting George. He turned out absolute crap (I don't need to expound further on the sorry state of his tickets). He refused to learn, because he'd seen that if he left a problem alone long enough, someone else would do it. My boss's discipline toward George amounted to hand-slapping, at worst. He got raises at review time, though some others in the department did not.

So, yes, perhaps I am being a bit unfair by hitting him where he cannot respond. But I worked my ASS off, every day, and I tried my hardest to respond to my customers because I have been in their shoes and I know what it feels like to have a problem you can't fix without help. To have had to work with someone like George was the worst insult that can be hurled at me, both professionally and personally, because it shows that really, I could have sat and fucked around all day long and still gotten paid, and the fact that I tried my best doesn't amount to anything.

Don't say we didn't help George out. I tried my damnedest to make that boy learn, if for no other reason than the fact that making him smarter would mean less grief and annoyance for me. The fault might lie with George, my boss, or my boss's boss for knowing and letting it all happen, but I'm far past caring. I worked too long in that situation to care about whose FAULT anything was. All I want now is this group therapy, this sharing with the world of my frustrations. It's cathartic. It makes me feel good. And if saying these things means that there wasn't a very healthy worker-employer relationship at that company, then so be it, because that's probably true.

You are welcome to your opinions, but you weren't there. You think George wasn't helped? You think I just put up this hurtful and insulting site without trying something constructive first? There was intervention. There was training. There was mentoring.

All our efforts at making George smarter were like throwing snowballs at the sun.

And that is all I have to say about that.

Okay, okay, fine. Whatever. If what you're saying is true, how could someone like that have kept a job?

Nepotism. It's sad, and it's detrimental to the health of the company, but it happens. The situation was so bad that users would call the help desk with a problem, and if George answered, they'd hang up and call immediately back so that the phone cycled to a different help desk technician. He shouldn't have been doing helpdesk work, but he remained where he was because of who he knew.

Has anyone from that company ever found out about this site?

I fretted for a long time about what would happen if they did, but the company had bigger things to worry about than little old me. This site became quite popular—I was on local radio and featured on User Friendly and Yahoo! and TechTV—and the other shoe did eventually drop; several years ago I got a flood of emails from ex-coworkers who'd found me out. Fortunately, nothing big ever came of it. The company itself is still around and is doing quite well, though it's a very, very different place from how it was in 2001.

I'm smarter than George. Will you tell me where you used to work? Can I apply there?

I don't doubt that you are, but no and no. See above—it's not about being smart. It's about who you know.

Damn, I have a George where I work, too! If I send you his/er tickets, will you make a page for them?

As fun as this would be, I do not have the time to sort through hundreds of reader-submitted tickets. If you have war stories and tickets you'd like to share, post them in the forums for everyone to see.

It's obvious what George is talking about in $TICKET. You could have fixed this problem by blah blah blah...

Chances are, I did fix the problem by doing that—every ticket listed on this site has been resolved. It's not terribly difficult to understand what George is talking about (most of the time, anyway). What makes it worth sharing is the fucked up way in which he communicates. It's funny. You are havening to laughening.

Why are there only four tickets on page twenty-two?

Shut up.

I don't particularly care for the amount of sarcasm and general nastiness displayed on this site!

Shut up and fuck right off. Talk to me at work, where I'm paid to be courteous and agreeable. No one is paying me to be nice on my web site. If you don't like it, go somewhere else.

You misspelled something! You have the grammatical skills of a retarded child! Your links are broken! You're a hypocritical ass!

If you happen upon a misspelling or a grammatical error on any of my web pages, please e-mail me and report it to me so that I can fix it. If, however, you'd like to write me an overlong missive about the irony of a typo on a website that pokes fun at a guy who makes typos, or if you want to preach to me a sermon about hubris or throwing stones in glass houses or whatever, please don't bother. I'm human, just like you are, and I make mistakes, just like George does. The difference between George and me, though, is that I am willing to correct my mistakes and learn from them.