I don’t have lots of memories of my childhood, but the memories at my grandparents house are particularly vivid. They lived deep in the country in southern Ohio. The kind of place where you’d have to drive an hour to get to after exiting the highway, and even once you arrived, you had to climb the long gravel driveway up into the woods.
At the top of the driveway was a quaint country home that my grandfather had built himself after he married my grandmother. They had a small grove of banana trees out back by the porch swing. Off to the right, past the well he “dug” with dynamite when my mom was a young child, was the red barn that housed his workshop.
His workshop was home to his small family business. The barn was a metalworking shop. It was full of workbenches, drill presses, angle grinders, sandblasters, and the like. It was impeccably clean for this kind of shop. I wouldn’t hesitate to eat a donut that was dropped under the milling machine, but then again, I’m not known for my ability to resist donuts under any circumstances.
Even as a young child, I had a clear understanding for what my grandfather’s career was. He made machines that made plastic strips for all kinds of different uses. Sometimes he sold the strips, sometimes he sold the machines. But, you could tell what he does just by looking at him.
30 years ago, you could tell what someone’s profession was by the kind of clothes that they wore. My grandfather wore flannel, a work apron, had a hands-free magifying glasses strapped to his temples and was covered in metal shavings.
But, if you asked my grandfather what I do for a living, he’d be perplexed. On any given day at our office, you’d see 9 people in blue jeans and t-shirts wearing headphones and staring at computers.
If you gauged what our profession was based on our appearences, you’d think we were monitoring the Matrix or hacking into CIA mainframes. (We’re not... though that seems like an awesome job.)
When you think about it this way, its perfectly obvious why my grandfather thinks I “work with computers.” After all, I spend all day working on computers and we have way more computers than we have people.