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Why calling IT support is like losing a shoe

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Last updated Apr 21, 2022

Is the computer driving you crazy? Have you had enough? The button you clicked didn’t work, the screen you were on suddenly disappears, there’s another pop-up that comes from nowhere doing what-ever it wants to do.

You might not know who to call to help you and even if you do call them, you’re not sure how to explain the problem. Even if you find a person and successfully describe the problem, the stress of listening to their response and keeping up with IT lingo can be exhausting.

But what’s it like for the IT person. And what has any of this got to do with losing a shoe?

Here’s four ways why calling in the IT brigade is like losing your shoes

  1. Hints are needed
  2. Always the last place you looked
  3. The culprit may not be who you think it is
  4. Deadline always increases the stress levels

Hints are Needed

Remember what it was like trying to find a shoe for your four year old? You go through the process of looking in the car, under the bed and in the kindy bag only to find it in the dog kennel.

Imagine ringing up the magical shoe finder who’s never visited your home, doesn’t know the layout of rooms, or the usual habits of its occupants, and asking this shoe finder to find your shoe.

If such a person existed they’d start of by asking you questions like:

  • When did you last wear the shoe?
  • Where do you usually put your shoes?
  • Do you sometimes leave them in the car?
  • Is there a dog or two year old in the house?
  • Have you looked under the bed?

They’d ask you lots of questions in a quest to help you find the shoe – and strange as it seems – IT support will likely ask you a bunch of similar questions.

  • When did you last use the program?
  • What usually happens?
  • Do you sometimes find this happens at other times?
  • Is the internet working?
  • Have you turned it off and on again?

The IT person is trying to get to the bottom of the problem and needs to understand as best they can what’s happening.

Always the last place you looked

By definition you find the shoe in the last place you looked for it.

It’s often the same with IT problems. Often IT support doesn’t know what the solution is until they’ve solved it. They can guess at what it might be, but until they’ve done their investigations they don’t know.


So the four year old lost their shoe – but perhaps grandma put it away in the laundry last night when she was looking after the kids.  Maybe the cat moved it under the towel when he was skylarking.

Sometimes our first port of call when we have problems is to try and find someone to blame.  And IT people are often in the firing line.  And maybe three months ago they didn’t check a tick box for a setting that sometime later on is found to be an important one.  But maybe some piece of software was updated and it now finds itself incompatible with another piece of software where previously the two played nicely together.


If there was no deadline to finding the shoe you’d probably have a laugh about it and say it will turn up eventually. Change the situation to it being a work shoe and the train leaves in two minutes and your stress levels would be to a point neighbours are probably hearing about said lost shoe.

Same with calling in IT support. If there was no deadline you’d probably give them a relatively calm description of the issue at hand and allow them time to work through the process. If you’re working to a deadline and the computer breaks down at the eleventh hour there’s a good chance your IT person will be the butt of your exasperation.

The moral of the story is:

  1. Answer the questions
  2. It’s solved when it’s solved
  3. The blame game is no fun
  4. The eleventh hour is your responsibility

Answer the Questions

Help the magical shoe finder do their job. IT support are not walking encyclopedias having memorised every permutation for every technical hitch for every piece of software that exists. They also can’t mind read. At least not the IT people I’ve met.

It’s Solved when it’s Solved

Depending on the complexity of the problem, IT support may not know how long it will take to solve. Allow them time.  It might be a quick fix – but then again – it might not be.  Patience my dear friend.

The Blame Game is no Fun

Looking for culprits and immediately assuming it is the IT person is a little unfair and besides, its no fun.  Let’s make our workplaces as nice as we can.  Even if it is their fault – their human – we all make errors.

The eleventh hour is your responsibility

Difficult as it is to accept, working to the very edge of a looming deadline is a recipe for disaster. Whether it’s an unexpected IT problem, a sick child or a car breakdown that impacts on your work schedule – if there’s a tight deadline there’s a whole bunch of things that can make it turn sour.

Some deadlines can’t be avoided. But some can.

Shoes can’t talk – but people can

There’s a lot IT support people can do to improve their communication – talking with words that most of us understand would be a good start. But there’s a lot many of us can do to improve the communication as well.

Feel free to share it this resonates with you!

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