Among My People

shutterstock-programmingAt my current job, I’m surrounded by accountants and managers and business people.  I’m one of only two programmers in my division and he’s an Access programmer, which I refuse  label myself as.  I didn’t really know how much I missed being around a team of developers until today.

My supervisor, a Cobol programmer from a neighboring division, and I trekked over to another building to have a meeting with a programmer for a system we are having to interface with.  When I walked in, I saw all the signs of a coder cave.  We made our way to a dimly lit room with 10 workstations scattered around, many  had as much as four monitors, one guy had a stand up desk, and 5 young hipster geeks were rat-tat-tatting away on their keyboards.  I saw Ubuntu Linux operating systems,  Intelli-J integrated development environments, and command line terminals with lines of output scrolling up in stops and starts.  All the signs of programmers were present.  I was among my people.

I wanted to establish myself as one of them in some way.  “Hey, you running Ubuntu?”  “What do you think about Intelli-J?  How does it compare to Netbeans or Eclipse?”  But I didn’t.  That’s not what I was there for.  And does anybody really like that guy?  The guy who wants to demonstrate that he knows.  Oh, I know, but what would be the point?

Perhaps I might get moved over there if they knew I was legit.  They seem to be understaffed.  But that’s not in my plan.  That place is a mess.  Management won’t let them use any modern tools for managing their code.  That’s a disaster waiting to happen.  Everybody at the center hates these guys, and it’s not their fault.  They’re trying to stand up a massive system with poor management and too few developers.  I don’t need that.

I’m just now realizing that I’ve worked in the same proximity as 4 or more developers my whole career; people I can chat tech stuff with; people I can help or be helped by.  A development team, in other words.

I don’t plan to be in this position for long.  It’s hurting my career working with this technology and with so little work to do.  I need to get back into the flow of professional programming.  I’ve asked my company to move me, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.  I’ve told them that I cannot stay in the position, as grateful as I am to have it.

In my last gig, I was working in a company with around a hundred programmers.  I was on a team with 5 programmers, 2 business analysts, a tester, and a project manager.  It is a hard-core software company.  And cool.  Ping pong room, video game area, foosball, no cube farm, huge windows looking out at the OU campus  We wore jeans.  Every Friday was super hero t-shirt day on my team.  I made good friends..  There were managers, business reps, and support staff, but mostly it was people like me, coding until our fingers hurt.  It was a tough job.  The system was enormous and complex.  The coding standards were high.  And the hours were tough.  In the end, I decided that it wasn’t for me.  But I miss the atmosphere.

Coders are different people.  They’re not like business people.  They don’t dress the same, act the same, play the same, work the same, communicate the same, or think the same.   They are creative, quick-minded, collaborative, tech-forward, and geeky.  Geeky is not what it used to be. Yes, there are still those kinds of geeks that dress without consideration for appearance, don’t know how to communicate (especially to girls), and are generally awkward, but then there’s the kind that are heavy into technology, comics, video games, and farming bitcoins…and still dress hip and get the girls.  This is like a new kind of geek.

I am neither.  I’m not into any of those endeavors, neither am I social awkward or poorly dressed.  I don’t know what I am exactly.  I communicate like a business guy.  I organize like a project manager.  I’m not brilliant coder, but I know how to satisfy the customer.  I care more about music than about videos games and comics…and I’m not sure I get bitcoin.

In some ways, I’m never around my people.  I like being around coders.  I like being around musicians.  I like being around business people.  I like being around church people. But there’s always something holding me back from fully fitting in.  I’m an odd duck.  Maybe we all are in some way, but I am in a lot of ways.

That leaves me the question of who are my people?  That is simple.  My family are my people.  My wife, kids, parents, and brothers are my people.  There is nothing holding me back with them.  I guess I’m pretty damn lucky to have that.  Not everybody has that kind of a family or has a people at all.

I consider myself blessed.

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