I Am Not A Super Programmer

I am not a super programmer.  You may not have heard the term, so let me explain.  Super programmers live to program.  They wake up in the morning excited to spend the next 12 – 16 hours hard at work on whatever their current task is.  They don’t care about your approval; they’re in it for the puzzle, for the accomplishment, and (most of all) for the feeling of being better than their coworkers.

Managers love them and tend to get confused when some of their employees complain about 12 – 16 hour days.  “But I thought you liked programming!”  

“Well, yeah, boss.  I thought you liked belittling employees, but even you have other hobbies.”

I’ve met a few super-programmers.  Even worked with a couple.  They come with an attitude and a certain level of “screw you for having other interests.”  Oh no, they’re not all bad guys.  Some are quite nice, but I tend to find them boring conversationalists.  What if I want to talk about something that isn’t work?

If someone was “super” in another job, we’d probably wonder about their mental health.  For instance, if someone was a super-fry-cook — a Spongebob Squarepants — who woke up every morning and lived for 12 – 16 hours of dropping fries and flipping burgers, we’d have them institutionalized.  Well, if we could get to them.  I imagine McDonald’s would do nearly anything to elevate that to the norm.

All this is to say, I’m not a super programmer and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.  Sure I enjoy programming sometimes.  I even program in my free time.  Last night I brushed up on vector transformations for game development.  But that’s my own work and it is a far cry from the work I do for my job.

I don’t do my job for the “thrill” of programming.  Sometimes I do get some small thrill from a task completed or an application doing something better than it’s been done before, but if I counted on that for motivation I’d be out of luck 96% of the time.  I do it because it pays and because I can take pride in a good-looking, well-liked product.

If I can’t get that sense of pride, if all the feedback I get is critical of my work, if I don’t have the authority to get things done and I’m expected to take the fall for things that happened years ago, well then I’m not very motivated to even put in my requisite 8 hour days. 

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