Monday, May 17, 2021

Inspiring the Tired, the Worn Out … the IT Pro

I was in a large bookstore the other day and was amazed at the number of
titles in the ubiquitous ”Chicken Soup” series. What began in 1993 as a
single collection of treacly feel-good stories meant to lift readers’
spirits has turned into an entire library of treacly feel-good
stories meant to lift readers’ spirits, with more than 90 million copies

of Chicken Soup books sold in but a dozen years.

There’s Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul, for the Teacher’s Soul,

the Nurse’s Soul, the Teenager’s Soul, the Ocean Lover’s Soul, the

College Soul, the Prisoner’s Soul. They even have Chicken Soup for the

NASCAR Soul. On the Chicken Soup Web site, I counted more than 100

different titles already published, with many others simmering on the

stove (last cooking metaphor, I promise).

Nowhere, though, did I find a Chicken Soup book for the IT Professional.
This is a stunning oversight, a rare missed opportunity by the Chicken

Soup empire to wring yet more dollars from a gullible and emotionally

needy public… that is, to provide messages of inspiration and support

to an invaluable segment of our workforce.

So consider this my open proposal to the creators of Chicken Soup. Be
assured that the uplifting IT stories told below are 100 percent

unverifiable.

Recognize Your Gift

Bill worked on the IT Help Desk of a major computer manufacturer. His was

a challenging job, guiding confused and sometimes irate customers through
troubleshooting procedures he had long memorized from rote, but they, in
their infinite ignorance, were unable to grasp. Truth be told, Bill’s job
had made him a hard and bitter cynic, a misanthrope. He had developed a
thinly veiled contempt for the very people he was supposed to be helping,

and he came to resent what he considered to be their repetitive, inane

questions.

Until the day Mary called.

While biding time for a couple of hours during an XP reboot, Mary,

detecting a note of tension in Bill’s anguished moan, did
something no customer had ever done: She asked Bill how he was

doing. Overwhelmed by this pro forma expression of empathy, Bill broke

down and told Mary he felt like his life was going nowhere and that he

was working in a thankless, unfulfilling job.

”That’s just not true!” said Mary, who explained that she was a single

mom on a shoestring budget. Mary said she couldn’t possibly afford a new
computer, never mind a new dll or whatever. Worse, the computer she owned

— the very one she was asking Bill to fix — contained the big

presentation she was sure would earn her a promotion at work and finally

enable her to buy a home for her struggling family.

”So stop thinking that what you do has no meaning,” Mary said. ”The

fact is, Bill, you have the power to improve people’s lives. You’ve been

given a gift!”

For Bill, it was an epiphany. He realized his job is important —

that he literally can change lives, right there from the Help Desk

cubicle he shares with four other colleagues! Bill vowed from that moment

on to treat each caller as if she was the most important person in the

world. And to Bill, they would be.

The next day, Bill’s job was outsourced to Bangalore, but he never forgot
Mary’s words of inspiration.

One Nation, One Network

Back in the ’60s, when TCP/IP was but a gleam in the eyes of U.S.

military researchers eager to build a computer network that could survive

a nuclear attack, there worked in the Stanford University computer

department a young engineer named Kennedy who reported to a supervisor

named Lincoln. At the same time, some 3,000 miles away, a

programmer working in the MIT computer lab — a fellow by name of

Lincoln — toiled under the watchful gaze of his supervisor, a man

named Kennedy.

Think about it.

************************************

There once was a sysop from Nantucket — oops, sorry. That one’s

for an IT poetry anthology.

*************************************

Wait, Chicken Soup editors, I’ve got more! Here are some other chapter

ideas
for the book:

  • ‘Repeat’?! I Thought You Said ‘Delete’!
  • The Well-Tempered Rack Server
  • Google This!
  • Network-Crashing Malware Brought Our Team Together… One Last Time
  • There Is No ‘Un-Send’ Button
  • All of the stories above are guaranteed to provide many minutes of

    reading.

    I know the Chicken Soup formula calls for your fans to submit their own
    uplifting stories (i.e. do all the work) while you ”tend to the gritty
    details” (i.e. count the profits) of running a business. So on your

    behalf I offer to collect all stories of inspiration submitted by IT

    professionals. See you on the best-seller list!

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