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Was this donkpunch's most self-indulgent entry?
Yes 100%
No 0%
I'm still bitter about his "terrorism" entry 0%

Votes: 1

 It's all about the Benjamins.

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Nov 15, 2001
The diary entry wherein our fearless protagonist reassesses his priorities and discovers he is not a "geek" and has not been a "geek" for quite some time.

More diaries by donkpunch
I am not tolerant
Libertarian geeks - patting their own pale backs
Credit Card Companies
My Stupid Shoulder (a multi-part saga)
My Stupid Shoulder (Part Two)
My Stupid Shoulder (Part Three)
Is this sexual harrassment?
Terrorism and root causes
Terrorism and root causes - clarification
Evolution of a Software Engineer in One Day
What Sucks About Marriage
Random Taliban Musings
The moment of truth came in 1994.

I was following my first choice of career -- the work I actually cared about, the work that made me proud.

I was going nowhere.

Enter a certain attractive lady with expensive tastes. She liked me well enough, but to keep her interested, I needed some more bling-bling (that's "gangsta" talk, kids). I was already fed up and frustrated, so she was the perfect catalyst for a major life change.

With a lot of hard work, late night studying, and a small amount of bluffing, I was in a new line of work. I was a "geek" at a time when "geeks" were well-compensated. The lady was gone in short order, but my future was definitely looking brighter.

Fast forward to now. I'm bored out of my skull. I'm tired of hearing debates about Linux vs. Solaris vs. NT. I'm tired of the latest vendor-supplied solutions to problems that were supposedly solved two years ago. I'm tired of new buzzwords and acronyms for old ideas. I used to take pleasure in creating something from nothing using only my brain, an editor, and a compiler. Now it seems pointless.

In short, I'm sick of spending my adult life with my hands on a keyboard and my retinas absorbing radiation at a 72Khz scan rate.

Do I want my old job back? Hell, no. Not for what they pay. At the same time, if I have to write another "for" loop, track down another memory leak, or learn yet another productivity-enhancing industry standard IDE, I'm liable to hang myself with the closest length of Cat 5.

Enter my manager. Seems they want me for a company architectural team. Been there, done that. I didn't do anything except make UML diagrams and long-winded documents for executives who never looked at them and wouldn't understand if they had. It may have been a career advancment, but I didn't like it. Give me a problem to solve and code to write, please.

But wait....

That was then. I'm sick of writing code now.

I got into this for the cash, not the code. Let's face it, if I was following my passion (said with appropriate melodramatic breathiness), I damn sure wouldn't be doing this.

Crap. I brainwashed myself. I actually started thinking I was a "techie guy". How did that happen?

The irony is I forgot the best piece of advice I got way back in 1994. I was chatting with a veteran Deputy Sheriff and saying I didn't think I could leave my job because it was what I was "good at".

Quoth the Deputy: "That doesn't mean anything. If you threw garbage eight hours a day, you'd get good at that, too."

...or if you wrote code eight hours a day.

Screw this. I don't have a use for TV drama, 30-Something, mid-life-crisis Oprahfied self-analysis. I don't have time to waste asking, "What do I really want to do in life?" I already know -- I want to live in a nice house, sleep with a pretty wife, send my kid to a good school, and buy some cool toys. Whatever gets me there fastest is what I need to do.

Time to hang my editor in the closest -- right next to my old black uniform. See you in the boardroom.


Way to go. (5.00 / 1) (#1)
by dmg on Thu Nov 15th, 2001 at 04:08:06 PM PST
The faster you can sell out in the tech industry, the faster you can gain an attractive lifestyle.

Think about it, who are the truly smart people in the computing industry ? The ones working 16-hour shifts to make sure the mission critical pearl script is bug free ? Or the ones talking to suits about how Microsoft .NET will leverage their core competancies and leaving the office at 5:30 ?

The Linux vs Windoze 'debate' is for morons. Yes Linux is better, NO big business will not put it on the desktop. Yes you are a 31337 h4x0r for knowing this, NO we do not care and are advertizing for 'Visual' C++ developers.

The reason so many people in the tech industry get frustrated is that they think tech decisions are based on technology, when in fact it is about politics, inertia and bribery

time to give a Newtonian demonstration - of a bullet, its mass and its acceleration.
-- MC Hawking

Damn straight. (none / 0) (#3)
by TheReverand on Thu Nov 15th, 2001 at 06:06:39 PM PST
And a note to donkpunch. Want the money, but not the tech? CONSULTING my boy. You make your own hours. It is the way to go. Get into a management position in a consulting firm.

Oh yes.

As much as it pains me to do so... (none / 0) (#6)
by hauntedattics on Fri Nov 16th, 2001 at 06:03:34 AM PST
I have to agree with the Reverend. The best management consulting gig is one where you either work for yourself or with a small group of cool people. This way, you can successfully avoid the big firms, which will basically have you writing code in basements, or interfacing with those writing code in basements, for 16 hours a day. Not much different from what you're doing now. If you work for yourself, you can set your own hours, choose your own clients, and keep (most of) your own ridiculously high hourly fees. But of course, then you have to market yourself as well, which for some of us is about as fun as scraping your ass with a cheese grater.

It's reverand with an A. (5.00 / 1) (#7)
by TheReverand on Fri Nov 16th, 2001 at 10:47:07 AM PST
Haven't we been over this already?

Oops... (none / 0) (#8)
by hauntedattics on Fri Nov 16th, 2001 at 10:51:18 AM PST
(Muppet voice): Sorr-ee...

Won't happen again.

The only way to make up for it. (none / 0) (#9)
by TheReverand on Fri Nov 16th, 2001 at 11:22:20 AM PST
Is to go listen to my band, and tell all your chick friends about us.

OK (none / 0) (#10)
by hauntedattics on Fri Nov 16th, 2001 at 12:20:12 PM PST
I'll do that, but only if you add some Radiohead to your playlist.

OT (none / 0) (#11)
by nathan on Fri Nov 16th, 2001 at 12:48:21 PM PST
Radiohead as power-chord rock?

Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

I dunno about you... (none / 0) (#12)
by CaptainZornchugger on Fri Nov 16th, 2001 at 01:18:38 PM PST
But I would really like to hear 'street spirit (fade out)' done in straight-up Pantera style.

I'm not really sure why.

Me too... (none / 0) (#13)
by hauntedattics on Mon Nov 19th, 2001 at 11:59:16 AM PST
And maybe Tool could cover Fake Plastic Trees on their next tour.

Sounds like (none / 0) (#2)
by Mendax Veritas on Thu Nov 15th, 2001 at 04:17:10 PM PST
a standard case of someone who got into a career path for the wrong reasons.

Anything that you do eight hours (or more) a day, five days (or more) a week, will get old after a few years if you don't really have an intrinsic passion for it, no matter how much money you make out of it. So choosing a career strictly because it promises a good income is not really a good idea for the long term unless you can get rich in the short term.

You have only two real hopes here:

(1) Do something, as I said above, that has a good chance of making you rich before you get sick of it, so you can retire and do whatever you like without having to worry about a paycheck. The problem with this is that it can be hard to find careers fitting this criterion that don't require a lot of specialized and expensive education, followed by several years of grunt work (e.g. being a doctor or lawyer) or more good luck than a sensible person would gamble on.

(2) Find something you really do care about that can earn you a decent income. The problem here is that it sounds like you don't really care about anything other than being a successful upper-middle-class drone.

If there are no good fits for either of those choices, then you have a real problem on your hands. I can certainly understand not wanting to do something you can't stand anymore, but you have to pay the bills somehow.

Now, there is a third option, though it's a bit trickier than the others, as it involves periodic upheavals rather than a steady progression. That third choice is to accept that you're going to make drastic career changes every few years due to sheer boredom. One consequence of this is that your income may make sudden jumps up or down when you change careers; another is that you'll never really have much seniority, because you'll never have more than a few years of experience in any one field, which also tends to limit your potential income.

A final option, of course, is to forget it all and go sleep in an alley, but that's not consistent with your rather materialistic goals for yourself.

As for "see you in the boardroom", you don't get there unless you're already rich, or sufficiently prominent in your industry that companies want you around for their image. I suppose what you really mean is that you're heading for a management career, hoping to get on the executive track. Well, good luck, though I must say I've never met a good manager who got into managing because he was sick of doing technical work. I have met some very bad managers of that type, however.

Uhm. (none / 0) (#4)
by tkatchev on Thu Nov 15th, 2001 at 10:25:57 PM PST
The problem with that is that the vast majority of people don't care for any job except sitting on the couch and being entertained.

IMO, there is no such thing as "the job I love", because any job is grueling, tiresome, and difficult. If it was pleasant and relaxing, they wouldn't be paying you so much money for doing it[1].

[1] Interesting tidbit: during the Middle Ages, a contractial worker for hire was one of the lowest groups on the social ladder, considered just one notch above a slave. Indeed, some medieval people tended to confuse the concepts of "slave" and "contractual worker", because for them the two were nearly identical.

Peace and much love...

The majority, and lovable jobs (none / 0) (#5)
by Mendax Veritas on Thu Nov 15th, 2001 at 11:52:30 PM PST
The problem with that is that the vast majority of people don't care for any job except sitting on the couch and being entertained.
True, but I didn't want to risk insulting donkpunch by assuming that his aim in life was to be a waste of oxygen, even if that was one possible interpretation of his stated goals.
IMO, there is no such thing as "the job I love", because any job is grueling, tiresome, and difficult.
That's not really true. Work isn't generally relaxing, but it can be satisfying, if your job affords you a sense of worthwhile accomplishment.
If it was pleasant and relaxing, they wouldn't be paying you so much money for doing it.
A good salary doesn't necessarily involve difficult or unpleasant work; instead, it reflects the ratio between the supply of and demand for people who can do what you're doing as well as you. They'll pay you as little as they think they can get away with, but if they know you could easily find a better-paying job, and they want you to stick around, they'll pay you accordingly. (This primarily applies to non-union jobs; I have no experience with organized labor.)

Don't know about anyone else (none / 0) (#14)
by Winter on Mon Nov 19th, 2001 at 08:32:42 PM PST
But i certainly wouldn't think one a "geek" or anything else for sitting around in a job they found blatantly boring. Maybe it's a zen thing, you're more of a "geek" now having realized you weren't :)


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