The title says it all. But no, Beavis, I’m not talking about sex.
Last week has made me a little gun-shy as far as tweaking around on customers’ computers. Sure, that’s only a small ten percent of my job, anyway, but some days, I just feel like IT is a lost cause.
The reasons I feel that way are numerous. It isn’t just that people ask me for recommendations, pay good money for the consulting, get something entirely diferent and then ask me to support something I know nothing about — I’m great at that, and I enjoy learning at lightspeed. Or that when I spend a great deal of time waiting on people, while they expect me to have everything done in five minutes — I usually do, or at least get things started in the right direction quickly. Or that I have a couple of employees who quit and come back two days later with all the consistency of a well-strung yoyo — I still only pay them for the days they actually do something for me, anyway.
No, instead I’m looking at it from a more practical perspective.
On the average day, the only time I get to go outside is during the car ride to a client’s place and back. Some days, I don’t get to go outside at all.
Tuesday, for instance, after that totally fun Monday, I got to sit in the office and spend a grand total of ten hours on the phone. Ten hours of my day talking to people, sorting out billing problems, giving advice, helping fix problems, etc. etc. etc.
Wednesday, I went to fix an IP cam in the morning, and then returned to the place I was at Monday and screwed around a little with Merit-style machine built by a company in South Carolina. That machine was fun — it gets hot and dies, but it’s got a funky ATX power supply which actually has a speed-sensor on the fan. Never seen that on a power supply fan. At 5:30, one of the guys and I left to take a look at bunch of equipment someone wanted to sell them. The trip was a bust, but at least I got to drive through the mountains.
Today, I messed around in the office until 3PM, and then headed back to the mountains to help a friend move a bunch of woodworking tools from a carving seminar held the weekend before last. On the way back, I picked up a Washer and Dryer and loaded that up, too, before taking it all and dropping it where it needed to go.
Sweaty, hot, sticky work. And I was outside. And I got sunburned. Like a normal person.
It’s been an experimental couple of weeks for me. Doing “different” things has been wonderful. I feel like myself again.
But I’ve never been one of those people to say, “____ is what I do, and ____ is how I define myself.” I’ve had a life full of doing different and exciting things, running around the world at a moment’s notice, doing sound for a band here, unlocking keys from parked cars there, re-wiring a house somewhere else, working on racecars over there, running fibre optics for a telecom somewhere else, and engineering and implementing an 800 user corporate network over there, and then working on some bar’s electronic dart machine over here.
After getting married six years ago, all of that changed. I started down a stagnant path, while I was in that armpit of a foreign country, mostly because they won’t let you do but one thing — they like to pigeonhole your career, your race, your sex, your nationality, and if you don’t fit into the boxes, you will sink.
After returning to the US almost four years, I continued pigeonholing myself like that. It is simply not good for me, and there was no cause for me to do it.
It’s one of the cool things about growing up in the South: you learn a lot of different things from a lot of different people. Some are hobbies, some are work, but you’re exposed to it all: it’s being a Jack-of-All-Trades, and if you’re doing it right, you’ll still do a better job than half the “professionals” out there.
I mean, that’s what I do. That’s who I am. And it’s something that’s been missing from my life for the past seven years.
They used to say about Dream Jobs, “Find what you love to do, and do it.”
For me, there is no Dream Job. The variety of chasing all those hobbies is where it’s at.
I’ve had another thought recently, about my company, that even though I am more meticulous than the guys are, it doesn’t mean I do a better job — they’re all perfectly capable. And I know damn well that if I let them have the flexibility to do what they want to do, the company’s gonna grow exponentially. It’s a win-win.
And I should knock my involvement down to one day a week doing IT.
That gives me four other days a week to screw around chasing some potentially money-making hobbies, and two days on the weekend to go to the lake, fish and drink beer. I’m pretty sure nobody except my immediate family knows that I actually love doing that.
Variety … it’s where it’s at.