Their work area looks as if a goat exploded inside their cubicle, they collect graphics and obscure references to zombies and tack them up on their walls, they’re obsessed with fantasy football, science fiction, and South Park, and they have the collective sense of humor of a classroom full of eighth grade boys. Don’t leave an open bottle of water near your desk, because, more than likely, you’ll find something floating on the bottom of it, like a swollen gummy bear that’s been God only knows where before succumbing to its watery grave.
Brent* and Joe* (not their real names) are two boys with whom I work in the QA department of a worldwide software conglomerate that may not be a household name to most readers, but leads the industry in designing manufacturing software. Not only does this most profitable enterprise work the proverbial room that is the global marketplace with its state-of-the-art product and successfully markets it, it seeks to recruit only the most talented individuals who, behind the scenes, make the magic happen.
Which takes me back to Brent* and Joe* (not their real names). Both survived matriculation at Kent State (surprisingly without any intervention from the Ohio National Guard) and now work with me at the software conglomerate; or rather, I work with them. Or, rather, they put up with me and my inane and asinine questioning without any visible eye rolling or finger pointing (you know the finger), while I blithely return to my neat-as-a-pin work area and attempt to decipher their complicated solutions to my simple problems. You have no idea how often Wikipedia has saved me from the abject anxiety that only the technologically-limited have experienced.
Here’s what we—Brent* and Joe* (not their real names) and I–do at the software conglomerate: Brent* and Joe* (not their real names) test the software enhancements that are made by the über talented software developers at the global software conglomerate, then, once vetted, they pass along the enhancements to me to update or document in the software applications’ users manuals. Sounds simple, right?
Simple for them maybe; not so simple for me. I have many talents; following directions is not one of them. But I’m getting better.
I won’t elaborate on the sad and sorry months when I wasn’t dead sure how to download and install a program onto my PC, how I had to look up the word ‘algorithm’, how I had to pretend that I knew how to take a screenshot, or how I had no idea of what a virtual PC was even though I worked on one every day. Those were the darkest of my early days at the software conglomerate, the days when I’m sure Brent* and Joe* (not their real names) wondered just how I ever managed to part my hair in the morning.
But like I said, I’m getting better, and so, hopefully, the relationship between Brent* and Joe* (not their real names) and me is also evolving.
Now that I work in the private sector for a worldwide software conglomerate, people ask me all the time if I miss teaching and the answer is “Hell, no!” except for one thing:
I miss sitting among my students and clandestinely listening in on their conversations. I miss hearing the two boys in the back of the room trading Anchorman and Office Space lines and trying hard not to crack up or pee in my pants. I miss the little jokes, the “joning”, and the playfulness that exists among folks who actually, deep down, like, respect, and cherish one another.
Brent* and Joe* (not their real names) are like those two boys trading Anchorman and Office Space lines, and they could very well have been my students when they—Brent* and Joe* (not their real names)– were eighth graders. While they like to cut up and have a good time, these two men are also very committed to their work. They take very seriously the task of testing—testing up, down, diagonally, sideways, around curves, and under any and all possible scenarios.
The takeaway? It is possible to develop good working relationships with your colleagues even if, seemingly, you have little if anything in common with them. And it is most definitely possible to find good help these days—Brent* and Joe* (not their real names) are proof of that. There’s a certain level of respect that exists among the three of us—Brent* and Joe* (not their real names) respect me because they have to since I’m old enough to be their mom; in turn, I respect the two of them for their intelligence, their work ethic, and, lastly, their combined sense of humor. And so this is my homage to them—to my wing men, who, without their patient instruction and tolerance of my dumber-than-a-box-of-rocks-ish-ness, I would still be trying to figure out how to access the VPN.
Kids these days…