As an English major, you never cared for taking things apart, or building anything, apart from your own arguments. Your relationship with computers is ambiguous at best: on a gloomy day they are, without a doubt, the end of civilization, Man’s ultimate weapon of mass distraction.

If this is you, a career in tech support might offer the kind of depersonalized experience your tender writer’s soul needs!

You may wonder what sane hiring manager would square an English Lit grad to tech support. Well, probably a desperate one. But take my word for it, your superior communication skills (make words not memes), your intuitive ability to judge your audience (barely literate) and your inability to find a paid job in your dying field (coz soz m8 w dnt nd ur lettrs), make you eminently hirable.

Most surprisingly though, you will find yourself in the unlikely company of some long lost literary friends:

Connotation

After a stint in tech support, you—English Lit snowflake trapped in a frozen pool of hard data—will notice words used differently from how're they're intended. Neurotic news readers who know that violence, crises, and conflicts “escalate” will find the idea hard to fathom that anything “escalated” in tech support could ever be of similar magnitude.

For the lucky uninitiated: “escalate” in tech support means sending a shitstorm (sometimes euphemistically referred to as a “problem”) one step higher up the food chain because a) the requester can’t be arsed, b) the requester has no clue or c) the requester has already emailed the CEO.

Omniscient & Unreliable Narrators

These are your clients. After picking up a tricky, completely self-inflicted issue, you—English Lit bore turned tech wizard and customer service wild child—have to give the client the benefit of the doubt and treat them as the omniscient narrator they never are. When their initial assertions crumble into dust after a wee bit of conscientious troubleshooting on your part, you know you’re dealing with a dangerously unreliable narrator. As a seasoned tech support pro, you take this as your cue to escalate and pass it up with that lovely tone reserved previously of war and impending disaster!

Interpretation

There are always at least two sides to a story. The client’s version, and the real version. The client will think of their version as the only true story. Don’t waste time convincing them of the truth. Instead, feel sorry for them and their one-dimensional lack of imagination, their inability to grasp what you could tell from their urgent tone alone: their manager is blaming them for something and that you are now to blame.

Hyperbole

Corporate Client asks, “The button doesn’t work.”

You: “We’ll fix it.”

To which they respond, “Why hasn’t it been fixed?”

“You just told us about it.”

“I’m going to escalate to your manager. This button is the most important thing right now!”

“Sure. What do you want me to do about famine, climate change, growing antibiotic resistance and the escalating insecticide?”

“Not my business.”

Catharsis

The thorniest issues are also opportunities for catharsis. Each cycle of email back and forth brings with it, at first, feelings of mild pity for your client’s general ineptitude and embarrassing technical inferiority, especially compared to you, the English Lit grad tech prodigy.

Initially, there may be empathy, given your self-awareness that you are in the same sinking boat. After a while though, as the email avalanche fattens and speeds up, first a vague then a very tangible threat of escalation quickly darkens your blue-sky thinking as it threatens you with professional annihilation. If afterward it turns out that it was all in your mind, that all those exclamation marks didn’t really mean anything, and the client finally proclaims that the issue is resolved…that, children, is called catharsis!

Anti-Climax

After you’ve worked your arse off for a client, figured out that they’ve been using the software wrong all along, and deciphered that they are unlikely to change, you settle for sending them a user guide they’ll never read, in return for leaving you alone. Until the next time their wayward mouse clicks cause data scripts to collide in the ether, sturdy buttons to flare up, implode, and vanish, pages to suddenly freeze over like lakes targeted by Russian weather bots.

Simulacrum

There may be periods where you quite fancy yourself to be the office’s English Lit tech trooper rebel and defier of clichés while you work hard at becoming passable at your job. Danger zone! You could be a simulacrum. While the DNA of your material self sits firmly rooted in a somewhat comfortable office chair, your spirit is free-floating, anchor-less, and no longer connected to anything you used to believe in or care about. Questions flare up in your mind with unnerving frequency. Questions like, “Do I want to be in tech support for the next 35 years?”, “Do I want to be in tech support next year?”, “Do I want to be in tech support tomorrow?”

Alliteration

Steadfast software support specialist struck senseless by sudden sequence of insanity quits soul-sucking job on the spot to seek spiritual serenity…

Let this article be the beginning of her journey.


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