You work with computers? Say! I've been having this problem with my machine . . .

Sure! My son is a system administrator, he knows all about computers and he will be more than happy to come look at your . . .

Hey! How are you doing? I just stopped by to visit. Did I mention that my computer doesn't work? I have it in the car if you could take a look . . .


Technical Support is what your family and friends think you are when you "work with computers." Often, you can get volunteered for work that you would normally bill ninety dollars an hour for, and social visits become support calls. If it's my father doing it, I'll usually go along because he got me started in the industry, but sometimes I feel like I'm working on my day off.

Even my wife (who works in a HelpDesk) gets hit up to troubleshoot systems when she visits her family to the point that they sometimes won't give her time to visit. They have called late at night when we have to get up early. Grr.

I don't mind trading services with family. My brother-in-law mows my lawn, and I hop when they have a problem. However, I wonder what the others would do if I asked them to perform their job on the weekend.

This can become awkward, and/or irritating unless you know creative ways to say "no" without being rude.


I may complain, but as long as that isn't the only reason they visit or talk to me, I'll keep helping.

See also sucker.

The department or team within a company or institution whose job it is to prevent you talking to anybody who knows anything about technology.

Technical support departments are usually organised according to a strict hierarchy:

1st Line: The first people the end ‘user’ will have to talk to. Primary responsibility is to prevent anybody from having to speak to 2nd Line technical support people. 1st Line technical support people are usually unqualified, and capable only of making suggestions like “Did you plug it in”, or “Re-start it and call again if the problem comes back”.

2nd Line: These people provide support for questions or issues that the 1st line cannot cope with (i.e. everything). Their qualification will be having possibly having once owned a computer. Their primary responsibility is to prevent issues from being referred up to the 3rd line of technical support.

3rd Line: The elite forces of the IT department should in theory combine years of experience with problem solving skills and management acumen. 3rd line IT support staff will almost certainly own a computer (e.g. an Xbox). Many companies promote, the 3rd operatives from the 1st and 2nd lines who were most able to wear a suit. Their primary responsibility is to prevent issues from being referred up to the departmental managers. Strategies to accomplish this include:

  • Erasing the job-requests from the whiteboard (it’s as if they never happened).
  • Referring the issue on to an external supplier or technician who only comes in once a fortnight.

Management: Overseeing the mighty IT department are a handful of senior managers, chosen usually for their complete antipathy towards information or technology. Qualifications will usually include owning a wardrobe of suits, and having once attended a conference on Exchange Server. Their primary responsibility is to prevent issues from being referred up to the Operations Director who recruited them last month whilst playing golf.

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