Tuesday, April 14, 2015

So He's "In Computers", Eh?

There was a point in my early 20's when I realized that I would be marrying a geek. Or a nerd. Or a dork. Or all three. It doesn't matter what terminology you use, I was going to be marrying someone with an engineering-type mind that focused on technology. The better part of my close friends were male, they were into some sort of information technology be it customer-facing or programming, they played video games. I was going to end up marrying someone like this, and I was totally OK with that.

13 years ago this fall, I started hanging out with Steve regularly and the rest is history. As it turns out, he does indeed have a career in Information Technology and enjoys playing the occasional video game. Go figure.

Our wedding day - June 2007
What I have noticed over the years is that it seems like being in Information Technology is what he gets defined as, and I've noticed this is the case for other people who are in the IT field as well. I can't speak for everyone who has the pleasure of working in this often thankless field, but Steve is so. much. more. than. that.

Yes, I just used periods in between the words of that sentence. I did it to emphasize the point. Did it work? I hope so.

As a nerdwife who often finds herself inwardly rolling her eyes at the pigeon hole that her husband has found himself in, I thought I would share with you the...

Top 5 Things People Say/Assume to Steve/to Me About Steve That Drive Me Crazy
(But I would never draw attention to in the conversation because it's just too much to explain without making me sound like a crazy person or offending the one saying/assuming it.)

- Saying that he's "in computers". I cannot tell you how many times when people ask Steve what he does for a living, their response is "Oh, so you're in computers!". While I suppose that this is very true, the world of technology is much bigger than the laptops you get at Best Buy, the Geek Squad, or even the IT help desk department at your place of business. There's a lot to the world of Information Technology that a lot of us don't ever see. My husband is the Director of Platforms and Systems Engineering at a local university. He oversees all sorts of cool projects and things from virtual desktops to email systems to mobile device support to so much more that I am blissfully unaware of. If you ask him what he does, he probably won't give you a fully technological answer. He views what he does as a customer service - providing a service to the students, staff, and faculty at the school he works at. Saying that Steve (or any other IT professional really) is "in computers" is like telling Thomas Keller he's "in food"; it doesn't paint a real picture of the work that he does. (And I'll give you that was a bit of an extreme analogy, but seriously, it's so much bigger than being "in computers".)

Not in computers here. Here he's in an airplane. 

- Assuming he loves (or knows about) ALL technology. Let me tell you: if I had a dollar for every time Steve has uttered the words "I hate computers", "I hate technology", "Why can't this work when it's supposed to just work", or any other technology-bashing phrase over the time that we've been together - our kids' college tuition would be paid for. At an ivy league school. With room and board. Including grad school. Don't get me wrong - there are lots and lots of things that Steve thinks are really cool and that he gets excited about. You should have seen the demonstration I got of the sweet, kick-ass new laptop he was testing out for work. But to assume that just because he gets excited about some technology that he's infatuated with all of it is just silly. Same goes for assuming that he knows all about it; believe it or not, our bathroom reading is not a stack full of "Wired" magazines and he doesn't spend his time following up on all the latest techie blogs. Which brings me to...

- Assuming that tinkering with computers is a "hobby". Steve hasn't bought a computer (desktop/laptop) for this house in about 4 years. While he is usually aware of what the latest & greatest things are in regards to computers, he's not spending his spare hours in a computer workshop in our basement upgrading his own box to the latest gadgetry. Every so often, a new piece of technological equipment will appear that he is excited about - the latest was a home server that he'd been meaning to get since we got married almost 8 years ago. There are about a thousand things that Steve would rather be doing when he gets home from work other than delving into more technology after spending 8-10 hours of his day up to his eyebrows in it.

I will take this caption opportunity to brag that my husband is a 3 (or 4?) time vExpert.
Because he's super awesone.

- Assuming he can - or wants - to fix your computer. What I have learned is that once people know that you're in any sort of computer related field, they seem to think that you also know everything in the world needed to know to fix their computer or set up a network in their house or anything like that. While this is often the case, it doesn't mean that the geek in question wants to do it in their spare time. Reformatting a computer (which is often, as I've learned, the best way to "fix" a lot of the "problems" that people have with their computers) can be incredibly time consuming, and time is a valuable commodity. I know that when Steve's not at work, he'd much rather be spending time with the kids, with me, with our friends, catching up on reading, developing a professional skill or working on some project around the house that he has been meaning to get to.

As an addendum to this - I've also learned that often when a Computer Geek dishes out their advice on what you should do to improve your computer/network situation or avoid having problems again - people ignore the advice and do whatever they want anyways. Before Steve I dated another "computer geek" and many of my closest friends were in that "computer geek" category as well and it was always the same thing with all of them when they gave advice. What was interesting to me was that this advice isn't typically disregarded because of a differing opinion from another "expert" on the matter, but because the individual asking the question seems to think that they have a better answer. My daughter was born a week early because the very competent doctor with a medical background in obstetrics and expertise on the matter of birthing babies said that she had to come out. Going home would have put both me and her at risk of complications. I took his advice because he's got knowledge I don't have. The same goes for your friendly neighborhood computer geek - if you ask their advice, don't think you're smarter on the topic than he/she is. You're smarter than them on something else that they might want your help with someday too, and you'll want that expertise to be respected.

Also he's a Patriots fan... we need an updated one of these with all 4 trophies.
- Assuming he wants our kids to love/be immersed in technology. When I talk about my kids pounding on dead laptops pretending to be Daddy or playing on the iPad or something related to kids & technology, people will often make the comment that "Steve must be thrilled" or "Steve must be so proud" or "Wow! Headed for IT, just like Daddy!". These statements make me roll my eyes internally and think to myself "oh, if they only knew". Evie's "screentime" is a few random minutes here and there using a doodle program on the iPad. Will only gets 30-45 minutes per day of screen time inclusive of any iPad/computer and TV time. When we're home, our phones are usually in the kitchen, on the counter, away from the kids. We play with toys, we run around, we wrestle, we let them help cook, we do crafty things and color and play with play-dough. Steve actively rails against our kids getting immersed in technology and we both lean on the litany of studies that have been done that discuss how too much technology can harm a child's development. Let's not even get into the deterioration of our communities and closeness to each other as people as a result of the dependence we have as a culture on social media.

Here's my bottom line - Steve (and all other "Computer Geeks") is SO MUCH more than a technology-centered being.

He's an absolutely amazing father to our two kids. Their faces light up and they run to him when he gets home at the end of the day. He snuggles them, wrestles with them, prays with them, shows them new things, sneaks them treats, and tries his best to be present in their lives. Steve imagines and plays with them in ways I'm just not wired to do, and it's amazing to watch.

That time he brought Will to his first hockey game...

Steve is passionate about learning everything he can about everything he can. If something sparks his interest, he's researching it within minutes. He wonders about how things work or why people do things or how things came to be the way they are, and seeks to expand his knowledge every day. It's inspirational, and I love it about him.

He has a calling on his heart to help others get their finances in order and is a coordinator for Financial Peace University at our church. Steve recognizes that God has given us each resources to do good work for our families, communities, and the world with and wants to help others reach their highest potential with the resources they have been entrusted with. It's a wonderful thing that he is wired to do for our family and to help others as well.

To that end, he's an "armchair economist". If there is a hobby that he has, watching the economy and learning about how it works is probably it. He finds everything about how economies work incredibly fascinating, and I love listening to him talk about it.

He's extremely competitive and gets creative within the rules of a game so that he can win. It's annoying at times, truthfully, but at the root of it is really a drive to achieve and a level of constant creativity that leads him to be an incredible problem solver.

Let's not discuss what he once did to a Nerf gun...
He's got an extremely analytical, engineering-focused mind. There are few things in this house that he's set out to fix or improve on that he hasn't done. When he tells me he's going to cut a hole in the wall, I don't even flinch because he repairs it so seamlessly you'd never know there was anything missing. He's a perfectionist and a precisionist, and it shows in everything he does.

Steve is an amazing guy, and if you take the time to get to know your local neighborhood computer geek a little bit deeper you'll probably find out that they're pretty awesome too.