“Have You Tried Turning It Off and On Again?”


When you’re the poor sucker who gets stuck with the general newsroom phone line at a news organization, you get a lot of weird and wacky calls. Sure, you can be the first one to get the breaking news tips, but you’re also in for a world of crazy requests, silly questions and “great” story ideas.

During my term at the helm when I was a reporter for a local newspaper I got story tips on everything from giant and or oddly-shaped vegetables, to an old tree that got knocked down in a storm (believe it or not, I had to cover that last story). Sometimes it was just acting as a general knowledge base for a population of people that don’t have access to or don’t know how to use Google.

We all lamented our turn with the general tip line, but what I had never considered was that those who work in the IT and technical support field get screwball questions and requests every day as long as they are in the field. I should have realized this – my computer programmer husband to this day still gets funny requests from my family on how to fix their computers.

But it wasn’t until I read over a press release of a survey of chief information officers around the United States about some of the ridiculous requests and questions that I realized reporters have nothing to complain about; never once have I been asked, “How do I clean cat hair out of my computer fan?” or “Can you come over and plug this cord in for me?”

Here are some other doozies:
“How do I remove a sesame seed from the keyboard?”
“I need help drilling holes in the wall.”
“Can I turn on the coffee pot with my computer?”
“I dropped my phone in the toilet, what should I do?”
“How do I pirate software?”

These get even better:
“I’d like to download the entire Internet so I can take it with me.”
“How do I start the Internet?”
“Will you show me how to use the mouse?”
“My computer won’t turn on or off.” (The computer was unplugged in that case.)
“How do I send an e-mail?”
“How do I click on different files?”

Yes – these are all legitimate questions that have been asked by people across the country. It seems like there is still quite a digital literacy gap in the population, which requires patience and understanding by the IT or help desk support staff.

What questions have you heard others ask – or you yourself asked – of your IT staff? Chime in and see if you can beat some of those previously mentioned.

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