I’m a Florist, really…

This Post could also have been titled “I don’t do Windows!”.

Computer professionals (especially those on the technical side of the business) have something in common with doctors, central bankers, and a number of other professions. What they have in common is that many people who they meet from outside their vocation will have an uncontrollable desire to present their personal problems related to the other person’s vocation for solution, convinced that solving their problems for them is a privilege in any setting. Moreover, they feel that working on their behalf for free should be your privilege.

In the case of IT people this manifests in a senario such as: You are introduced to someone in a social setting, and they learn in the course of things that you are an IT technical person. They then seem compulsively driven to share with you the latest problem with their Windows Operating System. The problem is presented with the zeal of someone who believes that you have no other desire but to share you professional skill with them without limit, on the spot, and who thinks all IT people are experts in the Windows Desktop.

Further, once they know this about you, all subsequent meetings will be overtaken by further requests for assistance, or lengthy descriptions of one problem or another.

Lawrence Greenspan, the long past Governor of the US Central Bank (arguably the most powerful man in the US), once said that, after having been accosted at social gatherings endlessly with financial questions once people learned what he did for a living, he was subsequently going to tell people that he was a Florist, in hopes that they didn’t need a floral arrangement as much as they needed financial advice.

In the discussions that are being described there is no room for you, the person. There is really no discussion or fellowship at all. The only thing on the front burner is the other person’s problem or information. They will tenaciously resist any diversion in the interaction. You don’t really exist in the equation as a person. Why would anyone seek out this sort of interaction? Most of us would not.

We are usually too polite to state the truth – If we want to work we will go to the office!

If you counter that you don’t know much about that particular system, you are as often as not relegated to the incompetency pile for not providing free consulting advice. That you might have a life, and want to actually discuss something more meaningful than work, is beyond comprehension of the self-absorbed.

One fellow I knew at a church would accost me every Sunday after service, to ‘share’ with me his latest Windows exploits or problems. Talk about spoiling the moment. To say I took to avoiding him would be polite.

Now, all this is not to say that there are not areas of IT that I might be experimenting with and interested in chatting about, but that is a completely different scenario. It also does not mean that in some instances I do not happily provide IT support. Again, different.
In the final analysis it is sad, and it is a situation we should all bear in mind when chatting with those in other areas of endeavour. They might like to actually converse about life!

On the other hand, “I am a Florist” sounds like a good approach to me. Thank you Mr. Greenspan.


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