I’m Going to Disneyland!

I had the most awkward conversation the other day and it was so awesome that I just had to share. I wish I could give you some kind of funny back-story which ultimately leads to this conversation, but there isn't one. Ladies and gentlemen, this conversation just happened randomly and without warning. I can't make this stuff up.

Person - So, did you go to school to learn about computers?
Me - Actually I went to school for Computer Science.
Person - So you learned how to, like build computers and stuff?
Me - No, I learned how to write software. This whole building computers thing is just kind of a bonus my employer gets from me. I kind of just picked it up along the way.
Person - (Light bulb dimly lights up over her head) Oh! So you could work for Microsoft!
Me - Yeah, I guess I could.
Person - So, I bet that Bill Gates is your hero, isn't he?!
Me - No, not really.
Person - So, then you must be a Mac guy then, right?
Me - No, I kind of use both. I'm not particularly tied to Macs or PCs.
Person - oh! Oh! OH! You could work for Disney!
Me - I suppose I could. I mean, I could work just about anywhere considering that businesses these days run off computers and all kinds of companies need software developers.
Person - (Blank stare)
(Awkward Silence)
Person - Oh, I guess you're right.
Me - (Swift Exit)

Image courtesy of Bruce Tuten

The funny thing for me if just realizing how little people understand about computing.  Since I have a "degree in computers", I'm qualified to write software, repair broken hardware, fix your recipe spreadsheet, and design microprocessors.  There is no difference really.  After all, it's just a computer, right?  In the same spirit, I fully expect a marketing person to be able to maintain the books of a fortune 500 company.  After all, it's just business.

Similarly, I received a phone call at work because an electrical outlet wasn't working.  Since computers run off electricity, then naturally I must be an electrician also. How nice. I'll be sure to email my past professors and let them know how much my degree helped with flipping a breaker. 😉

Don’t Worry Ma’am, I’m a Computer Scientist!

[Queue superhero theme song.] When there are bits and bytes to be wrangled into submission, I will be there.  If it uses electricity, it will yield to my hands.  There is no problem to strong to overcome my trusty tool belt armed with a compiler and debugger. I will solve the worlds greatest problems! [Graphic of computer blowing to pieces as I pound my fist through it.]

[Useless Office Employee] :Heard down the hall: Help! Help!  The copier won't work and I have 30 copies to make of my Tupperware party invitations for the office!  What will I ever do?

[Computer Scientist] *Ring*  Hello.

[Useless Office Employee] I have an emergency!  The copier won't work.  I need your help quick.

[Computer Scientist] Ummm.

[Useless Office Employee] If I don't get these important documents copied, the world is doomed!

[Computer Scientist] Well, I'm sure that the copier repair man could fix it, there is a number on the side of the copier for the service ...

[Useless Office Employee] ...I don't have time for that!  You went to school for this, just come down here and take a look.

[Computer Scientist] Actually, I didn't go to school for copiers, I'm a software devel...

[Useless Office Employee] ...A copier is just a big computer, come down here now.  It will only take you a minute to figure it out, I know it!

[Computer Scientist] Uh, alright.  I'll be down there in a second.

[Computer Scientist] *Pauses for a minute to calm down and ensure lunch doesn't make an encore appearance*  Ugh, I guess I should go see what the problem is.

[Useless Office Employee] :Heard down the hall: Argh!  What could be taking so long!

[Computer Scientist] *Grumble* What's seems to be the problem.

[Useless Office Employee] The copier won't work.

[Computer Scientist] Could you be more specific?  What's it doing?

[Useless Office Employee] I don't know! Just fix it!

[Computer Scientist] Well, it says here on the screen that it is out of paper.  Did you look at the screen?  **Really thinking: "You can read, right?"

[Useless Office Employee] Oh, that's not what it was doing a minute ago.  It was flashing lights and making funny noises!

[Computer Scientist] Sure, whatever.  Here, I'll put some paper in here for you.  That should fix it.  What is so important for you to need copied immediately anyway?

[Useless Office Employee] My Tupperware party invitations! Look at this flier I made online, isn't it sooooo cute?

[Computer Scientist] :Walks Away:

This has been another exciting tale of the computer scientist.  Tune in next time to see computer scientist take on such daring foes as the phone system, fluorescent lights, or his arch-nemesis the fax machine!