I swung by Borders tonight to pick up a book on SharePoint Server 2007, seeing as how I'll be teaching on it pretty soon. I walk up to the counter and the guy asks me, "What is SharePoint?"
I give him a quick explanation on what it is (it's a portal/collaboration server), rather quickly and coldly, because I know what's about to come. I'm bracing myself. I'm hoping it doesn't.
"Do you know anything about web development?", he asks.
"A little..." I'm a little more aggressive on the "I really don't want to talk" attitude, but still being polite - and being polite is pretty much always my mistake.
"Can I ask you what a good tool is for editing web sites?..."
CRAP! There it is. I knew it was coming from the very beginning, but I was really hoping I could dodge the bullet. I guess not. CRAP!
This vent that is forthcoming is not directed towards friends or family. If are related to me or my friend, and I am happy to help.
Why is it that if you work in computers, complete strangers will suddenly decide that you are now their personal computer consultant? Do people mention that they're a doctor and have the person respond, "Really? I have this cyst..." Now don't get me wrong - I love what I do. I get to play with technology, I get to impart knowledge on others, I get to help others. But that doesn't mean I'm interested in talking technology 24 hours a day, at any random moment, with any random person.
It's gotten to the point that when people ask me what I do for a living, I don't want to say anything. Half the time the answer leads me into a 20 minute conversation about this wireless router that isn't working correctly, or some other such problem. My favorite people are the ones that get upset with me when I can't troubleshoot their computer through conversation.
I finally posted a message in the MCT newsgroups about how to answer this question. The best answer was to say that I'm an astronaut, or some other impossible job. When asked what I really do, say I'm really a computer trainer, but I don't like to say that because I then get asked about the person's computer issues. Makes sense, and it's been successful.
Except in a situation like this. I have no choice. I'm trapped. I can either help him, or be completely rude. But then I'm suddenly the jackass.
Do the world a favor. If you meet someone who does <fill in job where you might have personal questions here>, don't just start asking them questions. Let them make the offer first. It's the polite thing to do.
Done venting. You may now go on with the rest of your day.