By Randi Hirte —

The screen flickers, your unsaved document flashes in front of your eyes just before the whole laptop darkens. Your cry echoes throughout the dorm. You press the power button, but there is no sign of life. The clock ticks in the background, five hours until your midterm is due. What are you going to do? Who are you gonna call? Well, the Ghostbusters probably wouldn’t be able to help. Your bloodshot eyes search your dorm for ideas. If only there was somewhere on campus that could help. Ah-ha! There is. You grab your lifeless laptop and head to Ask5000.

The Ask5000 helpdesk is a valuable resource available to Stout students but is often taken for granted. The employees are put in the direct line of fire from angry, upset and, to be honest, ridiculous students. They are yelled at, handed filthy, puke-covered laptops, and lied to all while in the process of trying to fix laptops. Their experiences include, but are certainly not limited to, pleasant, disgusting, upsetting or downright silly. Can you believe they often receive emails inquiring why microwaves aren’t working?

Both Amanda Olson, helpdesk technician, and Dan Schmidt, quality assurance technician, have experienced way more than they probably imagined in their three semesters working at Ask5000. Their reasons for applying to the job were simple enough. Schmidt had interest in IT and it was the best campus job related to his major.

“I was poor and wanted money to pay for food,” Olson joked.

The job definitely has its benefits: laid-back atmosphere, good co-workers and work experience, but Olson and Schmidt both agree that the worst part is the cranky and difficult customers.

“In the beginning of the year I had a girl come in because her computer wouldn’t turn on,” said Schmidt. “After looking at it I asked what she spilled on it and when. She said, ‘What spill? I didn’t spill anything.’ I then picked the laptop up, turned it slightly and watched the coffee spill out. It is hard to do my job when customers lie.”

Schmidt normally works in the back, primarily to avoid the customers.

“The amount of girls I have seen bawl over lost data and not backing up is too high.  I feel so helpless when it happens but there’s nothing I can do, “ he explained. “Same goes for guys, but they just get all angry and yell instead. As soon as the new batch of employees were trained in I started working in the back more.”

“Many people will come in with their whole college career of documents on their laptop, but it has never been backed up,” Olson shared. “Their hard drive will crash and they lose everything. This happens quite a bit with Apple users. Backup your files frequently people!”

They have had laptops turned in covered in puke. Sometimes they don’t even know until it starts to smell. The laptops are then put it in a bag and HP is contacted, since it is considered a biohazard.  It typically takes awhile for the company to get back to Ask5000, so it just sits in the back fermenting. Normally, it ends up being destroyed.

Schmidt often cleans the laptops and describes a lot of them as greasy balls of ick.

“Cleaning them yields brown, black and orange rags… Dorito dust is easy to identify after it is wiped off of laptops for it maintains its orange hue and covers every exposed inch of the laptop.”

The filth on computers is not only found on it physically, but in it as well, and by that I mean… porn.

“We have found many porn CDs in people’s computers, or people leave porn website tabs open in their Chrome,” Schmidt commented. “I once minimized everything on a girl’s laptop to discover a fully nude guy as her wallpaper.”

Olson added, “A client came in and his computer was running really slow and his hard drive had failed. I asked him if he streamed anything to cause his laptop to run so slowly and he said, ‘I’m going to be honest, I watch a lot of porn.’”

Regardless of the harsh words favorited and shared on Twitter under #ask5000, the work that is done by these technicians is above and beyond the call of duty.

It’s alive!

It’s alive!

You’ve emerged from the Ask5000 helpdesk, and despite your possible disappointment in yourself, the technicians there did the best that they could to remedy the problem. Your laptop, or the computers on loan they provided, is glowing with life, and you can continue to complete your midterm. So tip your hat to the doctors and walk out into the day that now brims with potential.

Ask5000 hours

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Monday: 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Tuesday: 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Wednesday: 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Thursday: 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Saturday: Closed

Ask5000 contact information:

Phone: 715-232-5000

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