Do I.T. Guys Like Chocolate?

I had a phone meeting with a coworker today. He’s in IT.

Generally speaking, the people of our IT department march to the beat of a slightly different drum. I’m no longer surprised at their odd habits. One of them sits cross-legged in his chair during business meetings. He also walks around in his socks at times. Another wears cargo shorts during the warmer months. He either wears the same pair of cargo shorts every day, or he’s got five pairs in the same color. One of them seems to collect his empty pop cans on his desk for days and weeks on end before finally cleaning house. The IT people speak a language that the rest of us don’t always understand.

And IT people enjoy privileges that many of the rest of us do not. They get to work from home a lot. Hence the reason I was having a phone meeting with my IT coworker today as opposed to an in-person meeting.

I set up this meeting yesterday. I have some reports that need to be built. I documented the specifications and created some mock-ups and I provided these to my IT coworker yesterday.  I asked him to look over my documents and be prepared to discuss with me whether what I was asking for was possible and if he could build the logic for these reports within a specific and rather short time frame.

My IT coworker called me this morning, as agreed, but I missed his call. We played a bit of phone tag before finally connecting. As I began to talk with him about my reports, he seemed confused and a bit distracted.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m just so tired today. What are you asking me about?”

I was slightly taken aback. What was I asking him about? Didn’t he remember the only reason I had asked him to call me? Odd.

I explained that I was referring to one of the two report examples I had sent him yesterday. He said that I mentioned the examples in my email but had not actually attached them. I was pretty sure that I had, and I quickly looked through the Sent Items in my email account, finding the original email and attachments just as he said, “Oh here they are. You did send them. I’m sorry.”

Again he apologized for being so tired and “spacey.”

I’m not easily annoyed by my coworkers and I particularly like this particular coworker. He’s smart. He does his job well. And for an IT guy, he communicates pretty well with those of us non-IT kind of people. It’s unusual for him to seem so distracted, tired and “spacey.” But I found myself wondering about his exhaustion. Was he up late with a sick kid? Was he up late with his wife? (OOPS! None of my business. Shouldn’t be wondering such things.) Was he up late hanging out with friends?  A part of me wondered how long the work-from-home gig can last if those who enjoy such privileges can’t wake up enough to function during normal business hours.

My IT coworker did seem to come to life a bit as we talked though, and was able to give me his perspective and some promising feedback on what I was asking. He told me he was going to look into some stuff and discuss a few things with someone else and would follow up with me tomorrow or early next week. I figured that was best. I figured he shouldn’t be making any promises when he was having such a hard time focusing and staying awake anyway.

We hung up with me envisioning him lounging in his home office in his pajama pants, hanging up the phone and leaning his head back on his chair. I pictured his eyelids drooping sleepily, a pile of beer bottles in his recycling bin from the poker game with his buddies last night.

Later in the day, I heard another coworker mention feeling sorry for the IT guy I had met with. Something about him starting his work day really early. I suddenly remembered that along with the perks enjoyed by the IT people, such as shoelessness, there are a lot of drawbacks, such as working long past normal business hours, working weekends, and having to make deployments at midnight.

It turns out that my coworker hadn’t been up late with his kid or his wife or his poker buddies. He had started his work day at 3:00 a.m. in order to make sure a very important report was run so that many others could do their jobs when they arrived at 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. today.

I was too quick to judge. I hadn’t said anything to my IT coworker about the impression he’d made on me. I didn’t talk about it with anyone else. Still… I thought it. And I should have known better. Now I’m the one feeling sorry … and really grateful to be surrounded by people who are so dedicated to doing a good job, especially when expectations are always high and expressions of gratitude are often forgotten.

I’m thinking maybe I should make amends for assuming the worst about my IT coworker. A little token of appreciation, without explanation, of course because that would just be uncomfortable. But something. Any ideas?

21 thoughts on “Do I.T. Guys Like Chocolate?

  1. Knowing the IT guys I work with, they seem to have their favorite non-coffee drink to stay awake – like a certain flavor of Monster or a certain flavor of Mountain Dew. I imagine one appearing on his desk with or without a bow on it would be a great boost without needing a lot of explanation.
    And you must be a great coworker – you didn’t mention your impression with any other coworker and when you found out the situation, changed your opinion. I wish more of my coworkers were like that :)


      • Oh I know what you mean! I call my IT guy Batman because he has to be hated by everyone in order to protect us from the forces of network evil. Every new rule or whatever sent by corporate and it’s somehow his fault. I’m glad I know next to nothing about computers, networks, servers, etc.


  2. My IT guy collects NHL bobble heads. He used to collect pro rasslin’ bobble heads, too … but, he also likes chocolate and almost any other sort of fun food. He’s flakey, but I sure would hate for him not to be around!!


  3. I agree with Matt. I’m an IT gal and love little cute things like that. That’s very sweet of you to recognize him. We do tend to work weird hours to make things happen behind the scenes which accounts for some of the spaciness :) It’s nice to be recognized for that.


  4. The answer to your question is, “Yes, we like chocolate.” :) …Or anything edible, for that matter. People used to bribe me with food all the time, and it usually worked.

    I was one of those “work from home” IT guys for a while. It was nice being able to work from the comfort of my bed, in my PJs, but of course, like you said, it always came with a catch. Working from home essentially means you are ALWAYS at work, so people call you during weird hours when things break. I’ve had a few mornings like the guy you spoke to myself.


  5. It’s not necessarily what you do but the thought behind. Praise that is not expected, a reward that is not expected is very powerful. I like the idea of “homemade” because it really is from “you”.


  6. Yeah, I was thinking a 6-pack of energy drink of choice. It’s nice of you to think of it.

    I like IT guys. They are different and march to a different and interesting drummer. It looks like IT is Chaco’s calling. He’s certainly got the slob part down.


  7. I’ve never met our IT guys in person. We talk only when things go wrong with our hotel system. Which frustratingly enough, happens quite often. So I FEEL like I know them very well. Our IT guys might be geeky, but they would do absolutely everything in their power to make things right for us. How can you not love that? When you find out what it is that IT guys DO like, let me know. I may do the same for our guys… just because.
    And good for you for editing your inner voice. So many people would be quick to gossip about another employee, without knowing all the details. And you’ve just offered proof on why we shouldn’t do that. I have a lady at work who could learn a thing or two about editing HER inner voice.


  8. Married to an IT guy. I was glad to see you did learn the reason he was a bit tired and spacey. You would be surprised the times my husband has had to step out in the lobby during a movie or outside at when we eat dinner out, because something broke (and some of the time it is non-IT people don’t notice the tripped over a wire and it got jarred loss.)
    A few IT guy’s like energy drinks but don’t assume all of them do. My personal IT guy(hubby) would simply love a thanks! of Great Job! A lot of times they are the first blamed when things go wrong and when everything is running smooth people often forget the IT guy behind the scenes.

    So my suggestion just drop him an e-mail and thank him for taking the time to work via phone with you on whatever the issue was. Thank you something many IT guys rarely hear… but often deserve.


  9. Skittles. I’ve known a number of IT geeks in my years and they are a weird breed. Many time’s I’ve been frustrated with the system or something I did and I have reached out to my IT support team to bail my ass out of hot water. While might not show it at the time, I really appreciate their help. Especially in the dark of the night or on a weekend. I think your IT guy did a great job. It looks really sexy to have a job where you come in at 10am, but it ain’t all cookies and cream. Send him some lunches or skittles. Or perhaps you could bake him some old fashioned IT cookies.


  10. I would question the IT guy too in my head…I know from being married to Mike that they do sometimes have late nights or early mornings, or both, but I always know from him that some coworkers ARE spacey and don’t give their job the greatest attention sometimes. I would have thought the same thing you did. Glad to hear he wasn’t slacking though :)


  11. no, most don’t like chocolate unless it’s in candy bar form with other sweet stuff mixed in. Yes, we get up and keep crazy hours so mortals can sleep in and do things like “meetings” and “write emails”. Which when we look at normal workers lives we have no clue why it takes you so long to do things.

    Overall, our perks keep us sane.


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