What you sound like to a Sysadmin


We all know that what we say is only a part of what we actually communicate.

Like a good doctor, a trained Sysadmin starts an assessment and diagnosis of your problem before you even reach their desk (and then, in some cases, come round the desk, lean over, read everything on the monitor and then touch it for no reason – you know who you are).

Whatever you say, the chances are they’ve heard it before, believed it, been burned, and vowed never to believe it again.

So whatever you think you said, think again: they’re onto you!

Today, in the spirit of better understanding the common language that divides us, we’re celebrating Sysadmin Day with a simple guide to understanding what Sysadmins actually hear when we speak.

“You don’t look very busy”

I’m going to make whatever you’re concentrating on much harder by talking to you while you do it.

“This will only take you a minute.”

I secretly think your job is really easy.

“I’m sure this won’t take long.”

Clear your schedule.

“I tried to fix it myself.”

I have made it much, much worse.

“I already tried that ten times.”

I actually recognised one of the words you said when you started speaking and after that I stopped listening.

“The computer deleted my file.”

I deleted my file.

“This wouldn’t have happened if we used Macs.”

Macs. Because shiny!

“You’re pretty good with computers, right?”

The next thing I say will be can you fix my personal laptop / tablet / phone / lawnmower / cat, in your own time, for free?

“Is it possible to delete an email after you’ve sent it?”

Get some popcorn, this is going to be good…

“I think the firewall is blocking me.”

I don’t know what a firewall does but I like the word so I just threw it in there as a sort of garnish. You can probably rule out the firewall.

“Is there something wrong with Exchange?”

I have done something stupid to my email.

“Why does this always happen?”

This is the second time this has happened to me! I forgot to tell you the other time. If this is my fault, I’ll forget this one too.

“Ever since you…”

I’m pretty sure you broke my computer’s 风水 or something when you reset my password.

“It worked yesterday.”

It worked right up to the point I changed it.

“It would be easier if you just made me an admin.”

I’ve got big plans for this laptop. You’ll have to burn it to the ground when I’m done with it.

There is one word that always cuts through the hardened carapace of experience, though – Thanks! – and it’s the only one we need today, because today is Sysadmin Day!

It’s a great day for putting ourselves in other peoples’ shoes, and then taking those shoes for a walk to the IT department, handing out pizza and saying, “Thanks, you earned it, you guys are rock stars.”