Long-form blog posts and editorials. Topics cover both personal and the world at large. 

What I learned from four years as AV support at SFSU

So I have been working on campus at Academic Technology for the past four years and in less than two weeks it will come to an end seeing as they don’t really allow you to work on a school campus unless you go to the school (well, job for students anyways). Anyways what the team and I do essentially is help the faculty of SFSU with their technology needs. Things such as laptops, projectors, video cameras, etc. We also troubleshoot all the machines that are installed in classrooms that teachers and students use to either present, show a video, or get cable broadcast (which originates from us too). 

Four years doing customer service strengthens you up and teaches you a lot about the finer things in dealing with people. So as I prepare to leave the place of establishment and move on to bigger things and a less secure paycheck, I figure it is time for me to share some of the knowledge in worker’s manual style sort of list:

  • There is no reason to be rude to a stranger no matter how terrible your day was. Unfortunately that does not go both ways as certain faculty members treat us like slaves.
  • Some faculty members just are not meant to use technology. How the heck are you going to forget what I just told you how to do only YESTERDAY?!
  • It is NEVER personal, it is just business.
  • Teachers that feel that their way is the best even when it is completely wrong, sometimes you just have to go along with it and let them see their own failure (especially sweet if it is in front of a packed class)
  • Not everybody is as smart as you. When giving directions over the phone, give directions as if you are talking to a five year old. 
  • Most of the time people completely ignores the virtue of putting things back as they were when they first receive them (tangled to hell cables anyone?). This is plain selfish - even if it is my job to put things back as they are once faculty returns equipment. 
  • Anticipate and you will have less problems. Takes five minutes to look over the schedule of inflows and outflows and have a game plan. This goes for any job really. 
  • Wash you hands regularly. Loaned out equipment of any kind is absolutely filthy. 
  • When teachers are mad and fired up about things going bad, you should always stay calm. The more mad they get, the more calm you become. Not to brag but I have this thing down to a T (also explains why I get sent out to all the mean ones).
  • General courtesy is very much lost these days. Who the heck enters a room of work and not say a hint of salutations? Are we suppose to just notice you’ve entered? A simple hello will get you everywhere my friend.
  • Faculty and students alike NEVER prepare for year end presentations with regards to the technological equipment that they are going to use. So inevitably when things go wrong or they don’t have the thing they need (mac adapter anyone?), we are the ones to bend over backwards just to help them out. Makes you wonder how these students will get on in their real jobs…
  • The best teachers will still execute their lesson plan even when the equipment they need is malfunctioning (projector in classroom out, no powerpoint for the day). Unfortunately there are only a handful at SFSU.
  • Generally speaking, people don’t plan. You know what they say, failing to plan is planning to fail. Just be glad we are so accommodating with your last minute request. 
  • People generally don’t have much patience either. NO WE ARE NOT THE LIBRARY - you can’t just return things by merely dropping it off. WAIT for us to check and make sure shit is there.
  • NOBODY reads directions. Even when they are attached to the machine they are using. Hey guess what? When you call us, we are looking at the SAME directions. 
  • Sometimes teachers will call just to vent like we are some hotline for the depressed and angry.
  • If the computer you are using takes more than 3 minutes to completely load into the operating system - it is time for a new computer.
  • I tend to walk slower to your classroom to troubleshoot your problems if you were rude to me on the phone (sorry, bum knee).
  • Speaking of walking, if you have two functioning legs, we are not too far from you. Suck it up and come to our office to pick up equipment. It can be your exercise for the year.  
  • There is no common sense sometimes with some of the requests. NO we cannot bring the sound back if you failed to capture ANY during the video recording (physics anybody?)
  • Teachers assume it is the same person on the phone they whole day (we are open 7:45am - 10:30pm). Hence they don’t identify themselves. I can’t really do anything for you if your first words when I pick up is “Hi, I am ready to see my video” (WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU!?!?!?).
  • Always delete your browsing history if you are on a borrowed or a public computer. We’ve had much laughs looking through people’s browsing history. As a matter of fact, you are on a public computer - you should know better. Just saying.
  • Telling you on phone “would you please hold” is a rhetorical question. If you are going to keep talking I am just going to put you on hold anyways.
  • Teacher’s that knows what they are doing gets insulted when you start your troubleshoot with them at the most basic level. Sorry, but that is just standard operating procedure. 
  • People don’t read room directions either. Even when they are plastered all over the walls (what I do is walk outside and point at the piece of paper). And no we are not a directory - I don’t know where the closest computer lab is.
  • Don’t get mad if I don’t know how to work you computer. After all, it is YOUR computer. My responsibility is equipment that belongs to department.
  • Be kind rewind. If we can charge a fee we would be rich.
  • Email warnings about overdue items are surprisingly effective. It is not like we charge a fee for late items either. Go figure.
  • Teachers assume we are psychic and automatically knows what building they are in when we ask them what room they are in. Sorry they haven’t installed caller location tag on our phones yet.
  • Teachers generally don’t have any interest in learning how you fixed the problem, just as long as the problem is fixed. Don’t be surprised if they call the next day with the same problem.
  • Customer is always right, even when they are not. In that case you just have to spin it so that it makes them feel like they are right. 

So that is pretty much it. It have been a fun four years of working at Academic Technology, along with some interesting characters to boot (which makes it double the fun). A big shout out to Dave LaCosta for giving me the opportunity to gain some valuable work experience, and a steady stream of disposable income every month. Going to miss this place.