The oldest joke online is that geeks have never seen a girl.
Or that nice guys can't get a girl.
Variations of this story have been happening all my life, my fellow geeks tell similar stories and the internet is awash with rage comics saying the same thing. But this particular story happened last night, to me.
On my way home from class I went to a nearby coffee shop to read a book - it's a trick I use to get myself off the internets and reading proper books that are awesome.
Upon getting there, my regular spot, the only place with a good reading light, was occupied. Some girl was there, reading a book, minding her own business.
I plomped my arse down at a nearby table and tried to read. There wasn't enough light.
After a few moments of thought I got up and asked the girl, if I could sit at her table because the light was better. She looked up from her book, smiled, said she doesn't speak a word of Slovene, but that I should totally sit next to her since she's hogging the only good light.
Sat down, thinking "My, that girl was kinda cute. Foreign too, I bet she'd be super interesting to talk to! Wonder what she's doing here ..." And I started reading.
After about half an hour, the girl stopped reading and just sort of sat there, looking kind of lost for a couple of minutes. I could almost feel her eyes peering through me ... but the book was really interesting. I kept reading.
She stood up and wandered about the coffee shop, looking at different things on the wall and just generally looking like a person loitering around waiting for someone to afford an opportunity to be spoken to.
I was the only other person there.
Finally she decided to leave. But before she did she came up to me, gave me a super warm smile and a cute good bye. All I did was a Huh? Oh right, bye.
Here was a cute girl that would doubtlessly be really interesting to talk to, who actually wanted to talk to me. But I just didn't give her a chance because I was there to read a book, damn it.
I think this is something us geeks do a lot. We pride ourselves on our laser-focused minds, being able to construct glass castles in our heads when tackling big problems, but we often shut ourselves out of random opportunities - what people call serendipity.
There was a line in my old startup pitch: "Serendipity is looking for a needle in a haystack and finding the farmer's daughter."
Except for engineers the line would be: "Serendipity is looking for a needle in a haystack and finding the farmer's daughter, then being pissed off that you couldn't find the needle and going home without even saying Hello to the daughter."
And that's why the internet's oldest joke is that geeks have never seen a girl.
PS: this likely also has a lot to do with how different business-type founders are from engineer-type founders, that openness to random opportunities that pop up everywhere. Definitely something engineers should work on :)
- GeekOut on Jason and the Argonauts(berinkinsman.wordpress.com)
- First steampunk bedtime story(geekout.blogs.cnn.com)
- "Blessed are the geek, for they shall inherit the earth."(nerdgasmnoire.wordpress.com)
I write articles with real insight into the career and skills of a modern software engineer. "Raw and honest from the heart!" as one reader described them. Fueled by lessons learned over 20 years of building production code for side-projects, small businesses, and hyper growth startups. Both successful and not.
Subscribe below 👇
Join Swizec's Newsletter and get insightful emails 💌 on mindsets, tactics, and technical skills for your career. Real lessons from building production software. No bullshit.
"Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only newsletter I open and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"
Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.
Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.
Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.
Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉 ServerlessHandbook.dev
Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization
Did someone amazing share this letter with you? Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog
By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️