I asked Elmer to navigate to the shared area on one of our network servers, where the client install application was located. He double-clicked on the setup.exe file as we talked. I told him the install would be painless, and I explained that he would get the training he needed during a brown-bag presentation. I kept swimming along, blissfully unaware I was in someone else's lane.
Elmer's machine seemed slow as he opened up the install share and double-clicked on the setup app. When the install program asked for directory and user name, it was as slow as a 2,400-baud modem. The install app took forever to respond, even on small tasks like clicking on an OK button. When Elmer typed his user name, each letter took seconds to appear on the screen. I knew some process on his machine was running amok and had pegged out his processor. Were we in over our heads?
Unfortunately, like many of our wonderful ACME employees, Elmer fancies himself a bit of a computer expert. He immediately blamed the problem on the recent addition of our new corporate antispam app. I mentioned to Elmer that we had not encountered any problems with the antispam app on anyone else's computer. Elmer was not convinced--he felt certain his diagnosis was accurate. Sadly, I don't know him well enough to say, "Hey, Elmer, just shut the heck up and let me figure out the problem." However, I did manage to get him to stand up so I could sit at the computer. Somewhere, I heard the ghosts of a thousand helpdesk specialists laughing at me.
I ran Task Manager to check his computer's CPU and memory stats, and I knew it was time for a reboot. I asked Elmer to sit down again, but convincing him he needed the reboot wasn't easy. For all his ranting and raving about the antispam app, I knew that wasn't the source of the difficulty--I had done this same client install a few times, and it had never caused a problem. I tried to explain it nicely, but Elmer wouldn't listen. I really wanted to smack him on the back of the head with my heavy college ring, but I managed to resist, though I pictured the whack in my mind with glee. This was a good reminder of the grief my helpdesk crew suffers through every day.