Five Rules for Dealing with Computer Techs

Everyone has a friend, or a family member, who is a computer tech. The awkward teenage nephew who always has his nose in his phone during family events. Your significant other’s quirky friend who always wears t-shirts with obscure pictures and phrases when the group goes out to dinner. Your own friend who always has a can of Monster energy drink in their hand and rambles incessantly about Linux server distros. They are valuable people to have available when your computer breaks down or gets really slow. Instead of taking your busted computer to a brick-and-mortar business in town and pay their hourly rate, just like an auto repair shop, you may ask the tech friend to help fix it. After all, if they’re on their phone all the time, they must be bored and can use some activity in their life, right? Before you do that, here are some rules to follow when working with the computer techs in your life:

Rule #1 — If a computer tech is working on your equipment for free, food and drink is a mandatory payment. The longer a tech works on your computer, the higher-quality the food and drink must be. Thirty minutes to install some software updates and remove some annoying pop-ups? Pizza and a beer. Four hours to transfer your data off your dead hard drive and onto another computer? Gift card to a Steakhouse.

Rule#2 — Just because you see your tech around town doesn’t mean you can automatically ask them a question about your computer problems. Techs have lives also. They shop at grocery stores, have dinner in restaurants, go to church, and spend an hour in coffee shops just like you. There is a time and place for everything, and complaining to techs about how slow your computer is while they are eating their meal in a restaurant is not the right time.

Rule#3 — Don’t expect your old equipment to be able to run the latest and greatest software. Homes can last for a century. Properly-maintained cars can run for 30 years. Home appliances should run for decades with normal use. Computers bought in 2005 running Windows Vista Home Edition, with 1 GB of RAM will not successfully run Windows 8. You wouldn’t drive your riding lawnmower onto the interstate, would you? The hardware “under the hood” of your current old computer does not have the oomph needed to run what everyone is using nowadays. Techs understand that you paid over $1500 for your computer a number of years ago, but can’t be expected to hot-rod an old device to make it new, like a technological version of Cocoon, that movie about rejuvenation from the ‘80s.

Rule#4 — When a computer tech tells you a potential solution to your computer problem, do not say, “No I don’t think that’s it.” They are the technology experts, not you. Stop it.

Rule#5 — Do not antagonize, tease, or talk down to a computer tech. Techs have been called all the names you’re thinking of many times. Geek. Nerd. Poindexter. Bill Gates. Techs have heard all the generalizations people make about how they all have the pocket protectors, always wear glasses, always hunched over a computer screen playing World of Warcraft, and have no social skills. You may find these jokes to be funny, and a clever way of disguising your insecurity about not knowing how to fix your computer. Techs get that. But all they want is to be respected for the hours of time they have put into learning and acquiring their knowledge. And techs just want to be appreciated for the work they are doing for free. So be nice to them. Bring them a beer. Give them cookies. And show your appreciation for their help in a big way.

It’s a good thing to have a tech up your sleeve, like a good auto mechanic, or accountant, or a home repair contractor. The feeding and taking care of your tech will reap dividends in the future, because there will come a time when your computer or phone dies, and you’ll need them!

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