Burn out Rate

Many of you know, I’ve long believed there’s a time limit for how long someone can work at a help desk before suffering burn out. (This is true for most people, maybe not all, but I’d put the percent of people that this is true of in the high 90’s!)

Today, when walking to my car I saw a very disheveled middle-aged man, who obviously hadn’t had a change of clothes or shower in a few days, and he was talking. At first I thought perhaps he was on a cell phone, maybe even using Bluetooth, since his hands were empty. As I got closer, however, I and the 3-4 other people waiting on the light to cross the street could clearly see that he did, in fact, not have any sort of Bluetooth device in his ear, he was simply talking to no one.

“Type back slash, then ssrn. Hit enter, then Left shift and enter two more times. Yes, three enters, then shift three times…” (I’m paraphrasing…)

Is this the next step past burn out? Do you just wander down the street giving out technical instructions to no one in particular? Or did he have some new-fangled Bluetooth device that I couldn’t even see hidden in the part of his pants that was rolled up revealing his calf? πŸ™‚

I wonder if anyone got video of him? Maybe I’ll search YouTube…

Technorati Tags: HelpDesk, Burnout

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  1. Eight.


    I did enterprise-level contract support (working with IT folks on the other end of the phone, as opposed to most ‘Helpdesk’ agents who are subjected to ‘Users’), and lasted 8 years. I finally, late in 1999, told my manager that it was time for me to get off the phones, as “I just don’t care about the customers any more.”

    I suspect it would have been much shorter if I was stuck helping ‘users’ figure out how to make their text bold or configure their email client.

  2. I did ISP call center support for about 18 months in the mid 90’s (dialup and some ISDN). I knew I had to get out when my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) told me that I started to talk in my sleep…with the kind of stuff you mention in your post and yelling at the users.

    It took me a couple of job changes to get completely off the phones but I stopped the sleep-talking when I got out of the callcenter.

  3. Steven, I think that comment “I just didn’t care about the customers any more” is exactly why I think 5 years is the absolute limit. I’ve seen way too may tech support people displaying that same attitude, and being allowed to! Some well before 5 years, but you get the idea.

    Scott, I think this guy was basically talking in his sleep while still awake, which I’m afraid may have been the next step for you! good thing you’ve moved on!

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