So now I’ve delivered my RavenCon After Action Report in faux-epic style (or should that be faux-epique? It’s certainly twee enough to get the Frenchification), I guess it’s back to the normal round of harassing my friends for topics, ranting about various things that have caught my attention, and generally being me.
And then… it happens. Someone wants to ask my advice (this is actually pretty common and I have no idea why). I’m not saying what they wanted to ask about, or who they are (I’ve had a few of them in the last week, all from different people). It’s just a message out of nothing asking if I can talk and the next thing I know I’m trying to tell someone that I’m really no good at (insert topic of choice because I’m not tactful, I’m not gentle, and my preferred form of office/group politicking is to cut through it all with the bald facts and the possible consequences.
Okay, it’s true I break things (including programmers’ hopes and dreams) for a living. It’s part of being a tester. Kate see software. Kate break software. Kate happy. Programmer not happy. Rinse and repeat until Kate can’t find anything to break and is driving herself up the walls wondering what the hell she’s missed.
I think I do this (the breaking software thing) well because I’m something of a puzzle nut and I have a bit of a talent for seeing the shape of the whole from only a few bits and pieces (Yes, I do jigsaw puzzles. Or I did. Kittehs what see those itty bitty funny shaped bits as awesome kitteh toys kind of limits me to online jigsaws which just don’t have the fun factor of watching 1, 2, and 3 thousand piece puzzles come together – I never did finish the 4000 piece. Nowhere large enough to lay it out that wasn’t open to the kittehs).
So when I get these out-of-nowhere requests for advice, that’s more or less what I do. I read/listen to the problem, and offer suggestions based on what I see of the whole. I don’t actually mind whether the person actually does what I suggest: I’m not in their shoes, I’m not living their lives. They have knowledge I don’t have, and if something I say makes the right associations for them to come up with an answer they can use, great.
Come to think of it, that’s also what I do when someone asks me about a plotting problem (yes, quite a few folks use me for that – hi, Sarah!). I throw suggestions at them until something clicks and they have what they need to move on.
Is it really such a rare thing for people to do? Seriously, I don’t get why I seem to attract this. It’s a bit like the folk who claim I’m scary, or the ones who think it’s utterly remarkable that I’m prepared to say yeah, I suck when it comes to talking to people and I’m much better with written/typed communication (yes, yes, I know. I had my annual performance evaluation today, okay? Too much business-ese in one day does things to me. The bit that matters, yes I got a raise, and an appraisal I’ll have to hide because the damn thing glows too much (what else am I supposed to think when my boss’s boss says “only God gets that ranking” and then turns around and gives me that ranking? Um. Yeah. I ain’t arguing, but I sure as heck don’t see that what I do is that special. It’s just something I can do easily and I like. Big deal.) The job title and responsibilities don’t change).
Do other people get these “WTF is with this? Why are they asking me these questions?” moments? Because I’d really like to know if someone stuck one of those invisible-to-the-wearer signs that says “Ask me anything!” in big neon-bright letters. It would explain so much.