I know I’m lucky, but I also know that my experience is not uncommon. The fact that I love the work is a subject for another post. Another thing I love about working in tech is the culture. There’s a spirit of fun, a widespread belief that joy fuels creativity, and a dedication to creating arbitrary entertaining activities that make life sparkle just for a moment.
Today, I stopped at the grocery story on the way home to get chicken for soup, since I’ve got this terrible cold. And on top of everything else, I’m confronted with Easter… Long gone are my easter bunny days. I decide that I will get a chocolate bunny and some butterfinger eggs, hoping that perhaps my child who is now a young man might enjoy it or at least feel happy that mom remembered to get him something even though he’s not really into celebrating these kinds of things anymore. Then, I see the sidewalk chalk and I remember yesteryear…
Wistful for the days when I could bring home sidewalk chalk and expect to be met with excitement pic.twitter.com/RhNzZslSR4
— Sarah Allen (@ultrasaurus) April 3, 2015
I put the chalk in my basket and I wonder… who do I know with kids who might enjoy this?
Maybe I will send it away in a package to my friend who has a toddler.
I look for yogurt and chicken.
@ultrasaurus s/home/to work/
— sasha magee (@sashax) April 3, 2015
In geek speak,
s/home/to work/ means substitute “home” with “to work” and I start to imagine chalk drawings in front of the Federal Office Building at civic center in downtown San Francisco. Would Sasha join me in some scene from Mary Poppins drawing landscapes for the passersby and security guards to admire?
I’m quite confident that my art skills measure up to those of a toddler, but can I rise to the challenge of grown-up art?
@ultrasaurus sidewalk chalk + UN Plaza = hopscotch awesome
— Carina C. Zona (@cczona) April 3, 2015
This I can do.
I love these people. Nothing in this interaction requires us to all be software makers, but we are. I love that this kind of thing is not uncommon. It’s a thing. A thing my mom won’t ever really understand. I remember this guy at Macromedia who decided to work on our web team since they were cool with him taking off one day a week to go surfing. He turned down some big company job where he would have had to work 9-to-5 in button-up shirt. His dad thought he was crazy. I thought that was a perfectly sensible life decision.
Somehow this spirit of fun got confused by some Silicon Valley startup novices who think that somehow ping-pong skills are a pre-requisite for software engineering talent. They miss the point. The point is to figure out what is fun for the people you have and do that stuff. Or just to have fun, not insisting that your version of fun has to be everyone else’s version of fun.
I remember when we all used to learn how to juggle at WWDC and then we would practice juggling while waiting for a 45 minute compile — really, that was a thing. And when I say “we all” it was probably just three of us on a team of 20. We each had come from different companies, but we all wrote Mac software and juggling was one of the WWDC activities. We didn’t make people feel like they didn’t fit in if they didn’t know how to juggle. It was just a silly thing we did, to pass the time, to declare publicly that fun is part of the work.