This post has absolutely nothing to do with either The Gospel of Thomas or Early Christianity so if you are in an academic frame of mind, you might like to skip it.
I have been associated with the University of New England for around 15 years (and I have been a PhD candidate there for more than half that time) and up to now I have only ever had positive interactions with their IT HelpDesk staff. Some of their staff have gone well above and beyond their basic job descriptions to be helpful, in fact. A couple of days ago, however, their student email system started telling the world that my email domain name was @myune.onmicrosoft.com rather than @myune.edu.au so I have been having problems posting to email lists. I contacted them using their on-line form and got a prompt response that suggested I should ring them if the problem wasn’t fixed. It wasn’t, so I rang and for the first time I got someone who didn’t tell me their name, wasn’t interested in listening to me and insisted that I try a fix that I was fairly sure wouldn’t actually work. It didn’t, so I added a comment to my incident report and the same person who’d replied to my first report replied again, asking me to try something else and then ring if that didn’t work. Again, I tried it and it didn’t work.
Now I find myself very unwilling to ring again. I am quite sure that the person who has been sending me emails wants to talk to me because it will be so much easier to diagnose the problem if I am on the end of the phone and can try things and report back. I am also quite sure that if he happens to be the person who answers the phone, he will be helpful. But I might get the unhelpful person. Since there are quite a few staff who answer the HelpDesk phone, I could easily get one of them, too, and they are also likely to be helpful. But I might get the unhelpful person … so I don’t want to ring.
It is amazing how just one encounter with an unhelpful person can have such an effect, and possibly if this last few weeks hadn’t been rather challenging in other ways it wouldn’t have been so bad. It reminds me, though, that I don’t know what life has been like for the people I encounter and I need to be careful in my interactions with them, lest I put them off unintentionally.