King Rat (gkr) wrote,
King Rat

Adventures in retail-land: the clueless customer

No, unlike the whiners and complainers that work retail who dominate the blogging world, this is not a bitch about a clueless customer. Rather, I felt sorry for him.

Before I got off shift today, a customer asked me if it was okay to browse. I told him that it was just fine; we'd never sell any books if folks weren't allowed to poke through the books. I was pushing an H-cart back to receiving at the time. He then asked where our computer books were, so I told him I'd show him on my way back. He asked about MCSE/A+ certification books. I showed him the MCSE section, and then the A+ section. He didn't understand what they were for, and asked a lot of questions about them. I don't mean, about which book was better (well, he didn't ask that at first). Instead, he was asking which certification was better to get. Now, for those who don't know: A+ certification is essentially a help desk/computer technician certification. MCSE is a systems administration/engineer certification. Which one is better depends on what you want to do and what your skills are. But he had decided he was going to get one of these certifications and go to work in the field. This is kind of like deciding to work in psych because you want to help people and not having an idea of what the difference is between psychology and psychiatry. The point being, if you haven't picked up the difference just from perusing through basic materials, you probably aren't going to have the aptitude for it. After a while, he was asking me questions like should he go to school for his MCSE or just read some books. I told him that as a bookseller, I couldn't really offer him that kind of advice.

A few minutes later, I was shelving humor, which is right next to computers, and he asked me another question. He wanted to know if we had any books on hacking. He wanted a book that would show him how to take control of his buddy's computer. I have to have his I.P. address for that, right?

I just felt bad for him. He's going to waste a bunch of money on school to get an MCSE and he's going to be so bad at it.

On the other hand, I remember so well when I visited the University of Idaho and one of the professors asked me what my experience was with computers. Trying to puff myself up, I told him I'd been writing programs that ran on both Apple and IBM. Now, these days that isn't uncommon. But in 1987, emulation and cross compiling between them weren't so common. I'm sure I looked just as clueless.

Still, eleven years in software has given me a bit of a sixth sense toward these things. And this guy just won't be good at it. I sure hope he finds this out before he spends a few grand on a vocational school that will happily take his money despite his lack of aptitude.

Tags: work

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