Thursday, June 09, 2011

I'm the guy who

When I used to run religiously, which if you read my blog you know I used to do, anytime I met a new person in my neighborhood, they'd recognize me and say 'you're the guy who's always running'. I could have been insulted by being reduced from the complex human being with thoughts and feelings and stuff to a guy running the 1.8 mile loop around our neighborhood non-stop like a character in an arcade console's 'attract mode' sequence, but I was OK with it. I kind of liked it. At the time I was always worried I wasn't running enough, but here were people who thought I didn't do anything but run. It really encouraged self-delusions of adequacy.

Most of us, if we're lucky to make enough of an impression on a person that they remember us, are remembered for one or two things we do. Sometimes this is great; often it isn't. Most people chafe at being 'pigeonholed', but it's really just something that happens, and you can't blame people for trying to deal with their own struggles with information overload by remembering you as 'the girl with the grating laugh' or 'the guy at work I discuss 'Mad Men' with'.

I've been hit with a couple different categorizations recently, some I'm happy about, others not so much. One I like is being perceived as 'The Arduino Guy' or 'The Hackerspace Guy' or 'The Robotics Guy'. I like being sent links on Twitter to projects like a t-shirt that tells you if you've got new email in your inbox, or getting questions about what's a good way to teach kids programming. Sure, I do/am other stuff, but if that's the main thing people remember me for, that's cool.

To other people, I'm 'the guy who makes the dumb jokes on Twitter'. I'm OK with that, too.

At work it's a bit of a mixed bag. For years I was 'testing guy', then 'programming guy', then more specifically 'web development guy', but a couple of years back things took an ugly turn and I became 'the Business Objects guy'. That was a dreary nightmare I've only recently woken up from. It was a position supporting entirely too many people, using my years of education to repetitively answer questions about very basic Internet Explorer usage. So on the one hand, it was degrading. On the other hand, since these trivialities ate into time and focus on developing, the end result was rather predictably not up to the kind of quality I'd want to be 'the guy who' was associated with. Horror, despair, and soul corrosion filled days and sleepless nights. I started telling people I was a highway construction flagman. I hated being associated in any way with any of it. I felt like a guy in a movie who was an immigrant from the Ukraine (where he was a mechanical engineer) who was now a Subway Sandwich Artist (which is a perfectly fine job for people without advanced degrees in engineering).

Recently things have taken a turn for the better with a transition into SQL guy a.k.a. data guy. Not everything I do with SQL server is some kind of rocket-science mental challenge, but it's extremely refreshing not to spend the better part of the day trying to help a spoiled white guy with a sense of entitlement figure out where his MSN 'butterfly' went off to. Writing SQL and digging into the internals of what SQL Server's about is interesting and even enjoyable (I even did this on my own time back when I was in the Role Of Which I Will Speak No More). I do care about and take data quality and integrity seriously and have no problem telling people who want to pull up the sewage truck and pump crap data into my database to hold up a minute. People in 'the SQL community' are pretty interesting and even kind of endearingly odd, in contrast to the bloodless consultant/sales types I'd encountered in Business Objects days, who'd cast dreaded spells of Eye-Glazing and Will-to-Live-Sapping on unsuspecting victims.

I am a husband and a father, and these are the two most important roles in my life. In these cases though, things are different, because my daughter doesn't just see me as 'the guy who reads to me at night' or just 'the guy who drops me off at school'. I'm a more complete, full individual in her eyes, as needless to say she is in my eyes. Similarly with my wife, I don't think I am merely the guy who takes out the trash or the guy who keeps forgetting things. I'm fortunate to not be 2-D in everybody's eyes, but I can honestly say that for the most part I'm OK with being known for a small part of what I am or what I do. Past experience has warned me though to be careful as sometimes it's better not to be known or remembered at all than to be known as 'the guy who' does something I want no part of.


Miracoli said...

take it less serious

Drew McKinney said...

Warm fuzzies :)

Kathy said...

i guess this is the difference between real relationships (your daughter, wife) and pure acquaintances... people will always see you as one thing or the other, not the real you. it's kinda nice that only the select few that you choose get to see the whole picture. nice post.

velvet said...

You are so versatile. Unpredictable too.

flats in pune said...

I appreciate the concern which is been rose. The things need to be sorted out because it is about the individual but it can be with everyone.

Unknown said...

Good stuff... would be cool if you posted more than bi-annually!!! Keep it up!

Andrew Sharp
Borrowed Faith

Stacey said...

Stumbbled upon your blog.... interesting I may be hooked!

Baylee R. Mann said...

i admire your take on sucha simple subject. elaboration is your strong point. i agree with your last line by the way. very true. i am known at school as the art girl, or the girl who is such a flowy hippie, or the girl with the awsome curly hair. all of these i love. the one that does bother me is "oh yeah, Blair's sister". i love my sister but i am nothing like her. took me a while to come out of that phrase.

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