Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/05/16/letters/
Brentford: home of the suicidal IT professional
And badger torturers, says Google trends
Letters IT: the world's most stressful profession ? Yes, according to the stressed IT operatives among you:
It seems easy, doesn't it, to explain to someone how to do things with a computer? "Please drag the files from the zip file to the folder you created on the desktop." "Ah... how do I drag files?" In a few minutes' time, you're going to be talking this fun lover through deleting keys from the registry. A riot a minute.
The stress in IT comes through the fact that you're talking to people who in all other aspects of what they do [that you can observe] display excellent skills and talent. Only, when they start working with computers, and more so when the sticky brown stuff hits the fan, they acquire the density of neutrino matter. There's no way to make them do the most simple of tasks. Operations that cost mere seconds to complete now take 30 minutes to an hour. And you have all that other stuff that your boss wants you to take care of. He simply won't believe it took you 45 minutes to help Mrs. Lafferty navigate the website to find a piece of information. They admit they don't know anything about computers and yet they know their computer better than you do, they don't believe you when you tell them something is going to happen or they won't accept direction from a lowly tech [a double bladed axe should be mandatory for IT support for managers]. And they lie to you.
An American bomb disposal specialist knows that when he screws up he won't live long enough to feel the pain. The IT worker knows that the pain will not go away. The bomb disposal specialist knows that the bomb wants to kill him. The IT worker knows that the user wants to drive her/him insane. Bomb disposal specialists have it easy.
The survey should have asked two more questions. 1) How crap is your manager (read as prepared to listen and resolve issues)? 2) How well does the business understand what you do?
I've been in situations where the IT helpdesk was effectively used as a verbal punching bag for frustrated users who's machines had crashed. The manager felt it was 'part of the job' rather than putting in a phone monitoring system to help support the very stressed out and abused helpdesk. He would also come down on the side of any user should a complaint be made as it was 'career' wise the right thing to do.
I've seen this at numerous companies.
It doesn't help that IT is usually a cost and not a revenue stream. This can result in there being no IT director. A lot of IT solutions require good leadership/ financial support at the top level. Without this, you end up with companies running 1000s of Windows NT boxes because the upgrade to XP is considered a cost and not a benefit.
IT usually ends up having to change the culture within the business to put in valid solutions.
Right back to work before the manager notices me reading your site :)
[Name and email address supplied to correspondent's management in keeping with El Reg's "Google China" policy]
I so agree with this article! Stupid customers have been christened 'numpties' in our office, as we can't say 'fuckwit' in case it's overheard by visting customers :o) They are the bane of my working life - I've been known to bang my head on the desk, whilst mouthing expletives during a particularly difficult support phone call.
World's worst/most stressful job is always good pub conversation but haven't found much that beats Police Diver - wading around in sewage infested pools, prodding your hand into holes that may contain the rotting remains of a dismembered child. Not sure if it's that stressful though, as the folks that do it seem to like what they do..
Your article: IT: The worlds most stressful profession hit the nail on the head - This is why I am retraining to become a Paramedic.
Working outside, dealing with the seriously ill is less stressful and a lot more rewarding.
Counting down the days to February 2008 - when I can leave my IT cereer behind for good...
----- Wayne Badcock
Your article on The Reg brought back some fine memories of me earlier this week trying to explain the crappy day I had in work to my GP wife. She slapped me across the face and told me to grow up. Everything is relative, eh?
Quote: "And here's an alternative top ten as compiled by the Vulture Central Statistical Analysis Soviet: 1. Iraqi police recruit 2. US Army bomb disposal expert 3. Baghdad A&E doctor" Unquote
Maybe it's just me... but I think you mixed up "dangerous" with "stressfull".
Ah yes, nothing like queueing up outside a Baghdad police station to induce a state of chilled-out wellbeing. Of course, you might get blown up, but that's merely dangerous.
Being Ballmer's furniture supplier isn't stressful! You have an awfully wealthy customer who has to regularly renew furniture, and who will break it himself so you won't even have to back your lifetime warranty claims!
A fair point - unless you happen to be delivering furniture when someone's in the office talking to Steve about Google. Prosecution rests.
Well, all of you stressed-out helpline oppos should at least be grateful that you have some company - even if it's shouting at you from the other end of a phone line. People in Brentford, on the other hand, plough a lonely furrow - according to Google Trends .
I take it you haven't been to Brentford lately. The Thatcher years combined with the Thames-side location so the temp secretaries and car mechanics sobbing quietly into their solitary Pot Noodles while contemplating another evening alone on front of the telly have been replaced by investment bank and information technology workers sobbing quietly into their solitary M+S microwave meals while contemplating another evening alone in front of the 42" plasma.
Not to mention the odd IT journo - take a bow Bryan Betts.
And isn't it North Kew now anyway?
I suspect that Google trends shows some very odd results - or no-one actually knows how to interpret them
Try checking for "the Register" - and you'll find that Eugene, United States seems to be the place that searches for The Register more than anywhere else. Searching on trends for Brentford seems to indicate that more people in Teddington search for Brentford than residents of Brentford itself (that comes in at 4th in the list).
Also for some reason people in Trowbridge seem to have an odd fascination for GCHQ with people in Cheltenham apparently not interested in it at all
If you lived in Brentford, it'd be the last thing you'd want more information on while sitting in your bedsit eating a Pot Noodle. As for posh Teddington, we reckon the toffs are searching for Brentford to show their kids exactly where they'll end up living if they don't pass that Oxbridge scholarship exam.
More fascinating Brentford trivia:
Brentford is also a locus of torture, only one place behind Washington DC: http://www.google.com/trends?q=torture&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all
Brentford's also eighth in the world for searches for 'badger'... Coincidence? Or have some Brentfordonians discovered a suitable cure for their loneliness?
The Brentford 'lonely' rating might also explain this:
'confused' gives good results, though I think Milton Keynes at No. 2 just behind Sheffield is probably a statistical anomaly - surely should be No 1. good game.
Thanks for the loneliness index Lester!
You might want to check out the 'top myself' index http://www.google.com/trends?q=top+myself&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all
Hope you're not from London!
try typing 'sexy' into that Google gizmo and the top 5 cities are all in India, with Brussles in the top ten!
Worthless? not a bit of it!
Your story on loneliest places probably referred largely to Lonely as in Lonely Planet, you dunce. Apart from Brentford.
Finally, to put some distance between ourselves and Brentford, the final word on that <abbr> tag palaver:
You say in your letters page  that "We experimented with the <abbr> tag on a "NSFW" tagline, but the damned dotted line underneath looked absolutely 'orrible on the Reg front page."
Well I'm here to tell you about this amazing new technology known as CSS which could make your dotted underlining woe a thing of the past! Infact, for a small fee - say I'd be more than happy to sort it out.
No need - it's sorted. Henceforth, all potentially-confusing acronyms on the Reg front page will come with accompanying explanation - and no dotted line. The same in body copy will continue to bear the dotted line of enlightenment, as God intended. ®