I used to love computer technology. Ended up with a dream job working with computers for a living.
One year at Thanksgiving, my boss called her staff into her office (it was a small gang), and we had a Thanksgiving meeting. She asked each of us to talk about what we were thankful for. Two of the girls rolled their eyes.
I said “I’m thankful for my job”. One of the girls barely stifled a snicker as they grinned at each other.
“I’m serious. You don’t know the kind of hellish job I came from. For the first time in my working life it’s a treat to get up in the morning. I actually look forward to coming to work.”
The point was lost. These girls had it great, and didn’t appear to know it.
It wasn’t the computers so much, I now realize. It was the fact that I’d found something interesting that made me curious. This job was all of that. I got to be the lone computer guy for the office (among other things). I managed a consultant and soaked in all of the knowledge that I could.
I think maybe it was the shiny buttons and lights that attracted me. Press a button and something happens. Press another combination and something else happens. I loved exploring that world.
Eventually I moved out of that job and into another one, again involving computers – only more so. Once again I had an excellent boss, who believed in letting his people stretch the limits of their understanding. He encouraged us to work with servers. At first, we spent time learning about them. Then they became our responsibility. We spent many long nights in the server room trying to figure out why one or the other server wasn’t working. Long nights talking long distance with the server manufacturers, jointly troubleshooting problems. While we had lots of frustration, it was coupled with bouts of joking and laughter.
There was the time that four of us were stuck in a tiny room, working on a server. There was a guy about my age, and a vendor rep around the same age, a younger woman, and then of course me.
The vendor guy said “I don’t know. This isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. Do you know anyone who specializes in this server type?
My older colleague said “Oh I know. I’ll give Dave a call. He works with these all the time. He’ll know just what to do.” He got his cell out.
“Can I speak with Dave?”
While waiting, the vendor blurted “Dave’s not here”.
Three of us burst out laughing. The poor younger girl looked confused. Never had I seen such a clear barrier between one generation and the next. Someone should make it a rule that as part of their education everyone gets exposed to the material of “The Beatles”, “Cheech and Chong” and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”. Make it mandatory. I guarantee you very few would complain – those are all classics.
For the past number of years, the number of new and innovative applied computer technologies has diminished, as have the opportunities for late night struggles with workmates. This all mirrors my level of engagement and interest. If there’s nothing new, there’s little to be curious about. No new shiny lights and buttons.
Getting up in the morning has become more of a chore than a joy. In fact, over the past couple of years, there’s been a new interest to take its place during my off-work hours, a new shiny bauble.
Writing – something I used to do as a hobby – has become something a little more. I now write freelance critiques of a couple of TV shows. The challenge is to make them interesting and readable. To have an opinion and to articulate it in such a way as to invite comment and conversation. Luckily, the shows themselves are so well-written that they provoke emotions in our readers. This helps.
Seems a little ironic that the one subject that bores me is being used to indulge another passion. The computer, far from being a fascinating innovation, is now serving as a tool to enable the expressing of my ideas in writing.
There are a ton of questions I’ve yet to answer, and a bunch I’ve yet to ask or figure out. Like, what’s next? Where can I take this writing thing? I mean, beyond the obvious (e.g. a novel). If I’m to escape the “golden shackles” of computer-related employment, how do I leverage this love of writing?
(That’s an open question, by the way. Any of your ideas would be gratefully received.)
The bottom line is that Dave is most certainly here. Keep knocking. He’ll get there eventually.