Nov 24, 2023

Meet the Man Behind This Column’s Help Desk

…then ignore him

By Ed Goldman

You may not have realized it but this column has a Help Desk staffer on its consultant payroll.

Shadduh Pareddi says he lives in Pakistan but actually lives on North Punjab Avenue in Clovis, California—his real name is Harold Jenson but he says people don’t trust Help Desk people without exotic accents who seem to be based far, far away.

Edgy Cartoon

Jerk table

The Goldman State is but one of his many Help desk customers.

For Comcast, he advises users, “Turn off the TV and turn it on again in 30 seconds.” He tells Safari customers, “Turn off your computer and turn it on again in 30 seconds.” He suggests to clients of AT&T to “Turn off your phone and come buy an upgraded one in 30 minutes.”

He even has contracts with a few hospital call centers’ Ask An Ex-Nurse program. 

“I always want to say, ‘Turn off your oxygen tank and have your next-of-kin switch it on again shortly before the ambulance arrives,’” he quips. “Then I switch to decaf and give real advice.”

“Such as?”

“‘Your symptoms sound alarming. Perhaps you should see your doctor.’ That usually gets them swearing and I politely hang up. I will not be a victim of elderly abuse.”

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“But you’re not elderly,” I point out.

 “Are you saying I won’t be someday?” he says. “This may qualify as pre-elderly abuse. I suggest you pre-lawyer up.”

When in response I suggested he “Shaddup already,” he claimed I was now making fun of his name. I decided to change the subject. 

“What are some of the most common questions you receive at this column’s Help Desk?” I ask.

“I get several a week asking how to remove oneself from a mailing list,” he says.


“Oh, they’re much too polite to ask that. Either that or they think we’re monitoring their calls—which, like other Help Desks, we say we may do but we don’t.”

“I didn’t know that,” I said. “I always want them to monitor my calls, especially when I’m angry because they made a mistake on my bill.”

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“But how many times do you tell them that and you turn out to be in the wrong?” he asked, sounding a bit wiser than I remembered him.

“Ohhh,” I began pretending to mull that over, “maybe, um, always.”

I couldn’t see Shadduh/Harold but I envisioned him nodding sagely. I told him so, adding that I couldn’t shake the image of him acting smug.

“Turn off your brain for 30 seconds, then restart it,” he advised.

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).