“Look, here’s bragging rights” Todd poked his nose into my cubicle, his eyes twinkling behind his glasses, just a little more than usual.
“Oh, sounds exciting, show me” I swiveled around and paid him my full attention.
“Look at this, I designed it.” Todd proudly proffered a print-out of a plane.
“See, there” he pointed at a part of the tail “I designed that”. He practically beamed.
Todd, you see, is a very smart man. Before he started writing software, he was an aeronautics engineer. He’s forgotten more about mathematics than I will ever know. When I first started working here in Texas I recognized him immediately. I didn’t know what he did, but I could tell he was very, very smart. I can always gauge when someone’s smarter than me. Todd, I sensed, was quite a bit smarter than me with half his brain tied behind his back.
So, when Todd, of all people, comes into my office to ask my opinion about software development, it’s a really good feeling. It’s respect. The highest honour one software developer can give to another is to ask his/her advice. Many is the time he will come and sit down in my cubicle, his glasses flashing in consternation, and he’ll propose a problem to me, something he’s been mulling over, something that’s perfect… almost perfect, but he’s missing a piece: something he hopes I will be able to provide. To my great pleasure, I am often able to help.
In software development companies, there’s the official power structure: the boss, the project manager, the team leader and then there’s the unofficial geeky power structure. The official power structure has to do with ranking and power. The unofficial power structure is all about respect. I have been fortunate enough that, wherever I go, I am afforded a large helping of respect.
This is one of the many reasons why I love my job.