Just two weeks into my new gig at HotWax Media I received an invitation to an Apache OFBiz Bug Crush Event. More than two dozen of the world’s top Apache OFBiz programmers and developers would simultaneously “crush bugs” on three continents. I was delighted to be invited to hang out with the cool kids, but not entirely clear about what it involved. (Okay, not remotely clear).
What to do? Play the “new girl” card? Openly admit a knowledge gap? Quickly text a techie friend for an explanation and a few key tech terms to casually drop during future conversations?
Clearly the other invitees were burly bug crush experts. But me? Just puzzled. Here’s what happens when a non-tech brain tries to decode insider tech jargon: Bug (ewwww) + Crush (yikes) + Event (yay!) = intrigued-yet-conflicted. The logical solution would have been to ask the boss, Mike Bates, for the lowdown. But painful memories of The Cursor Incident still haunted me.
Ah, the infamous Cursor Incident. It all began when I met Mike Bates (once long ago in a galaxy far, far away). He hired me despite incredulous glances from the other young hipsters. Day one on the job he instructed me to keyboard some information into a document. And because he was looking over my shoulder, and because one member of the leadership team was openly smirking in my general direction, I was intensely nervous. I froze, hands hovering above the keyboard. (Insert awkward and seemingly endless pause).
“The cursor,” Bates said, “is that little blinking thing at the bottom of the screen.” To his credit, he said this patiently and without even a hint of smug superiority.
Now, it’s true that I have clear memories of 8-track tapes, rotary dial phones, and the inner circle of Hell otherwise known as finding a misspelled word in your hand-typed-ink-on-paper English composition the morning it was due. But was it not evident that I was intelligent, young-at-heart, and at least moderately hip? After all, I had earned a Master’s degree. And I was sporting Doc Martens. And my Wednesday evenings were devoted to learning fusion-style belly dancing.
And I did know what a cursor was, thank you very much. Crush that! (Oops–did I say that out loud?)
The possibility of starring in another Technology Incident made me shudder. But which might be most painful: openly admitting bug crush cluelessness to the person who had once assumed I couldn’t identify a cursor, or; bluffing my way through the bug crush despite the risk of two dozen teammates seeing through the facade and thinking me a poser? Either way, would discovery of my bug crush cluelessness mark me forever as an outsider? Or worse, as just plain…old? Sigh.
One thing I did know for certain was that I could trust Mike Bates. And that he was a natural teacher. And that while he would undoubtedly tease me about this (repeatedly and until the end of life) he would always stop short of drawing emotional blood. So I swallowed my pride and asked the question.
As anticipated, he kindly provided a condescension-free explanation. And it’s a good thing I dared to inquire. Because embarrassment about not being up to speed right away at a new job may be bad. But spending precious time and money hunting-and-gathering the right outfit to wear and the right bottle of wine to bring (to a cyber event!) would have been so much worse.
I now understand that the invitation was a mostly a professional courtesy. And I’m impressed not only by my teammates’ generous and inclusive attitudes, but also by the nature of the bug crush undertaking itself.
Tomorrow, more than two dozen members of the HotWax Media team (in five different time zones) will sacrifice their Saturdays to the cause of working together to improve Apache OFBiz. Simply because they are committed to progress and to the common good. When the bug crush is over, hundreds of hours of valuable time will have been donated. Dozens of bugs will have been terminated. And the Apache OFBiz world will be a better place.
Way to go, team HotWax! To those of you about to Crush, I salute you.
One small request: while the brave new girl is assimilating into this brave new world, could event invitations be clearly labelled “human” or “cyborg”? That way, if an RSVP is required, I’ll know exactly what to do with that little blinking thing at the bottom of my screen.
Teresa Zundel is Director of Communications at HotWax Systems.For more than two decades, Teresa has devised and implemented innovative communications solutions for both corporate and nonprofit clients.She lives in Salt Lake City, where she enjoys geocaching with her son and attending live music shows at the State Room.