Have you ever tried to tell a relative what we in IT do? After several attempts at explaining my job to my mother, I was ready to give up. Why not let her believe that I work at GMC? Before GMC she thought I worked at AMC, so I figured GMC was a good compromise. Still, each of us wants the people we care about to understand and value what we do for a living.
What’s the Opposite of “Technical”?
My mother is on the extreme end of the technology spectrum. She is on one side, and Larry Page is on the other.
Since it’s unlikely she’ll ever log on to read this post, I’ll share a story that highlights her lack of technology knowledge:
It was the summer of 2010, and I was studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. There wasn’t really a way to communicate with my mom for most of the trip because she doesn’t have Facebook, email, internet, a cell phone, or anything of the sort. Like I said, she is falling off the edge of the technology spectrum. After a few weeks, though, it was time to stop making excuses and find a way to call my mom. I needed to let her know I was alive and well. I decided to call her landline via Skype. Remember, in 2010 Skype let you call landlines for $0.10 a minute. She answered the phone and was beyond excited to hear my voice. I couldn’t even get a word in for several minutes before she stopped rambling and asked, “Wait…how did you call me?”
I responded, “I am calling you from Skype.”
There was a pause on the line that seemed like an eternity. I thought we got disconnected. She screamed, “HOLD ON!! YOU CAN SEE ME RIGHT NOW!? I’M IN PAJAMAS! WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME YOU CAN SEE ME?”
How can you explain EMC?
If a simple call over Skype baffles her, explaining what EMC does is nearly an impossible task. Although I had failed many a time to explain what I do at EMC, I was determined to find a way to explain to my mom what EMC does, so I came up with the following analogy that seemed to work. At the very least it got her to understand I don’t work on cars or at a movie theatre.
“Imagine you arrive at a restaurant. The first thing you do is go up to the host and ask for a table for 2. The host tells you to hold on a second as he/she checks the chart to see if there is available space, see where the waiters/waitresses are serving, and what reservations are coming in. Based on those factors the host gives you an acknowledgement based on the information you requested. You end up getting a table for 2, and it’s time to order food. They are short staffed today so the host is also the waiter. The host comes by and asks what you would like. You ask for a cheeseburger with lettuce, onion rings, fries, and a coke. The host understands what you want, but he/she knows the chef doesn’t use those terms, so he/she writes down the following for the chef, “CB, L, OR, F, CK.” The chef doesn’t have a cheeseburger, lettuce, onion rings, fries, and a coke all packaged together (this is not a converged infrastructure restaurant, after all) and ready to serve to the host immediately. Therefore, the chef finds all the different items of food to make your meal, prepares it, and packages it together. The chef then sends the order back to your host. Your host verifies this is what you asked for and acknowledges your request for a cheeseburger with lettuce, onion rings, fries, and a Coke by serving it to you. Now take everything I just said and imagine a bunch of wires, computers, and cool scenes from The Matrix, and that is what EMC does.”
There was once again a long pause similar to the one I experienced in Barcelona over Skype, but I took that as an acknowledgement.
– Brad Linch @brad_linch