I’m a software developer and I refuse to fix your computer

Two months ago I was leaving an awful temporary job. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I was comming back home and immediatelly falling asleep on the couch. Every day.

Fortunately, I was leaving after working in this hellish place for 1.5 months.

I was leaving for a software-related job with a chance to move to UX later. That was perfect.

I told my managers and I started sharing the news with my work colleagues. Most of them were very curious as to where I’m going. They shared the same awful circumstances and understood all too well how good this will be for me.

My answer was: ‘I’m going to work as a kinda programmer.’ And then the onslaught of requests begun.

I was asked to fix computers, Windows drivers (will you ever do it well, Microsoft?) fridges, printers and smart TVs. They also asked me to give tips on which graphics card to buy.

All because, supposedly, I’m working in the software industry so I must like computers and other electronic appliances.

For me, computers are a tool. I don’t like them. I don’t find them that interesting. And I want to deal with them as little as possible.

That’s why I buy a 13" MacBook Air every couple of years. It works well, is light and comes with a Terminal app where I can run my editor of choice, vim. It also has Apache and PHP preinstalled, so I can work easily (I work in web dev). I’ve got some other apps on it: Bear, Spotify, spreadsheets, Keynote, and Adobe XD. I’ve also got one game — Caves of Qud — installed. And I don’t need much else.

Heck, I haven’t really used Windows in a decade, so I just don’t remember where things are and I’m sure they’ve changed everything anyway!

It’s funny, because I enjoy debugging. It’s the favourite part of my job.

As I walked home, my back hurting as always after 8 hours in the Satan’s Funfair, I was asking myself questions. I’ve been in this situation so many times before — why people react this way every single time?

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Photo by Julian Zett on Unsplash

There’s a pattern to that, I can see it. Every time I make a mistake of telling someone I write code for a living it’s always one of the following responses:

  • can I hack into social media account? (nope)
  • it’s a boring job (kinda true, maybe)
  • can I fix something? (nope)
  • do I have Asperger’s? (nope)
  • can I recommend hardware? (nope)
  • rarely: they’ve heard about [name of my framework of choice] — and people apparently say it’s shitty, slow and has lots of security holes (go away)

I’m sure you’ve been in this situation too. What’s your response? I tend to kindly decline and I move on.

Written by

Future dad, 9to5: tech support agent. I write about the User Experience of learning programming.

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