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UProf and the University’s IT Department.

January 26, 2013

I couldn’t get into my email yesterday, so I called the IT department for help.

After a half hour of identifying myself, the woman on the other end said that she could help me.

“What’s your password?”

— What do you need my password for. Just tell me what the problem is. Can’t you tell from where you are?

“I’m sorry, but we cannot determine the problem unless we can see what’s showing in your mailbox”.

— That’s the problem. I can’t access my account. How will you see what’s in my mailbox when I can’t even see what’s in my mailbox?”

“I’m sorry, sir, but that’s how we fix this sort of problem.”

— Okay. ‘Splain it to me, Lucy. How will you gain access to my email with my password if I can’t gain access to it with my password?

“There could be something in your mailbox that’s preventing you from opening your mail.”

— Like what? A huge boulder? Why in hell do you need—

“Never mind. There’s another way for me to check your email. Please hold.”

Have you ever noticed that you can never find a nuclear weapon when you need one? It was bad enough that she asked for the password that the IT department begs us to change more frequently and make more difficult to crack, but it was even worse when she said that ‘there’s another way for her to check my email.’

She came back on the line to tell me that the problem was fixed. I tried to sound conciliatory.

— What was the problem?

“I’m not quite sure. Maybe something got stuck.”

I wasn’t going to pursue it. Sometimes you’re better off not knowing certain things. Ignorance is bliss (which explains the happy expressions on a lot of my students’ faces).

The IT department is rumored to be in a basement below the library (which would make sense if the IT department wanted easy access to all of the computers in the library). You need a special key to access the bottom floor via elevator. Maybe there’s a missile silo down there. God knows.

— Where are you folks located?

“Who?”

— You and the rest of the people in the IT department.

“I’m sorry, sir, but I can’t divulge that information.”

I get it now. The university has outsourced the IT department to India. I felt like blowing her cover by asking her who is playing in the Superbowl this year, but I thought better of it. I thanked her and hung up the phone to go get some coffee.

Outside, several lecturers and professors were standing in the hall.Their phones weren’t working. I had just gotten off the phone, but I thought I’d check to see if mine was affected.

Sure enough. My phone was dead. I suggested that someone call the phone company.

“No. This is something that the IT department handles.”

Send them an email.

“The email is screwed up too.”

I decided against that cup of coffee. This was a crisis, the solution to which was a nap.

As I said before: there are some things that you’re better off not knowing or thinking about.

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