What Would Tom Do?
Explanation: I'll spare you the specifics, but yesterday I was trying to do something at work and I couldn't figure it out. There were two ways to perform my task - a short way, where a tool we use could have formatted some information for me, or a long way, where I would have to read through the information myself and interpret it based on how it was built. The short way would take mere seconds, provided I had the proper configuration to run it, while the long way would take ten to twenty minutes to work through. I, of course, tried the short way, but could not configure it properly. After five minutes of trying, I gave up.
At this point, I reached the age old question: Do I ask someone for help or just do it the long way? In this case I decided to just go for the long way, thinking it wouldn't be too terrible. Well, about five minutes in, I decided to give up and ask for help. I opened a Sametime window to ask Tom and started typing my question. Tom knows these things and he helps me out a lot, but I hate to bug him because he's usually all sorts of busy with bigger stuff.
As I typed, I imagined how Tom would reply. My imagination always starts his reply with "Jeremy, you're an idiot..." and then goes on to tell me why my question is stupid. Mind you, Tom doesn't ever actually say that, but one of these days he might if I ask him a stupid enough question. Anyway, in this case, my imagination said "Jeremy, you're an idiot because the key to your configuration is right there in the data you're loooking at." Sure enough, it was. Tom had answered my question without ever knowing that I had asked it.
By itself, this wouldn't be such a big deal, but this is not the first time Tom has answered a question of mine without me ever asking it. I would guess that four out of every five times I type him a question, I figure out the answer ("Jeremy, you're an idiot...") before ever hitting "Send".* So, I think it's clear what my options are here:
- Get "WWTD" bracelets made up for the entire department. I'm sure I'm not the only one who should be asking that question. I could make one for Tom that says "WWID" just so he doesn't feel left out.
- Tom claims he does it by a form of mental telepathy. I should have him studied.
- I could just stop trying to solve problems on my own and instead start trying to ask Tom immediately. Perhaps the answers will come more quickly that way.
- We don't need to see his identification. These aren't the droids we're looking for.
- I could just stop bugging Tom and send the questions directly to myself via Sametime. That way there's no possibility of me actually sending him a question by mistake.
*Interestingly, this is not unique to Sametime. When I worked out of the office, I would often walk halfway down the aisle to Tom's office before realizing the answer to my question and turning around.