Stranger Danger

/ #teams #workplace #people  /4 min read

Arriving at work in the morning and seeing someone sitting at the desk next to the one at which I usually sit, trepidation begins to creep over me. Will I need to be on best behaviour, ‘tone down’ the code cursing, maybe not so much un-pc banter, am I going to have to be a ‘serious developer’ today.

This past couple of years, it’s kinda been that way, especially since some recent new recruits have left with less than stellar reputations.

I’m a personality girl. I’m big on conversation and laughter. A quiet room or team is not one that would choose for a regular working environment. There needs to be atmosphere, discussions, collaboration and even at times discomfort, as I believe these are the things that make us learn and grow.

Variety is paramount, dissent, assent these things build us out both professionally and personally. It’s the reason why work is so important, it allows us to move in circles different from our socialised groups. Understand a variety of cultures, begin to develop proper adult relationship skills.

Knowing this, our team manager put the new recruit next to me, there may have been a reason for this, but introducing myself to the new person, the limp handshake and barely muttered reply did not instil me with confidence. Especially since not half an hour later, he was asking who I was to another member of our team while sitting next to me.

It was my first day in the office for the week and JD, one of our more exuberant, singing (and sometimes dancing) senior developers, is having a ranty day.

He is usually one you can rely on to tell it like it is, and at times, his objections can get pretty staunch. He’s the type of guy that makes a statement, then he steps back and inclines his head as if to say ‘…go on then challenge me.’

Today we played our usual games. “Song Prompts and political rants”, though no “Bible Jeopardy”; that one seems to have died quite quickly, along with “Hymns from Questions”.

Still, ‘ranty’ JD was in today, so the games were interspersed with rants. A little mini rant here, a significant nelly rant there. The gentleman next to me was in a series of meetings today, so I feel as though he didn’t really have to manage the noise level at its height.

Now, we work in the type of office where developers are able to leave their laptops on their desks without fear of them going missing, and there’s no Kingston lock insight.

This young man, however, opted to pack his laptop in his backpack and cleared his desk at some minutes to two. I thought he was done for the day, so I asked that very question. He grinned shyly and stated he was off to lunch. I figured ok, wished him a good one and returned to my screen.

Two hours later, still no sign of him. Turns out, he was upstairs on the 1st floor, he didn’t come back for the rest of the afternoon.

Now, it’s a commonly held belief that computer programmers are a strange bunch. Most people understand them to be somewhat alien beings, speaking in a language that few understand. Awkward jokes, weird stares into blankness, things like that.

One particular misconception is that computer programmers have no social skills, and are unable to communicate with ‘normal’ people. While not strictly speaking correct, the description above does resonate as descriptive of many such personalities that work in the computing/technology Industries.

The youth in question, I know not of his age, but he looks young enough to be an intern., may or may not turn out to be one such person. His behaviour today is a little bit worrying, as is his one-word answers to every question.

He seems guarded, sitting with headphones in, reaction to people speaking to him could be described as ‘less than enthused’. However, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

For myself, I’m kind of a first impressions count. I long in the tooth within this profession, and I’m far past the point where I ignore them.

Stranger danger Y’all, stranger danger.

Main Image © Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash