Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How to Out Geeks in Corporate America

In my career, I am slowly moving from corporate IT departments to corporate project management departments. I PMed a small project last year and am the vice-PM (or as I call it, the "official toady to the PM") on my current project.

I don't like writing about work - all those ideas are going to be in an often-talked-about-but-never-actually-built "Professional Blog." The whole idea of the Professional Blog is to establish a stronger "professional" web presence just in case prospective employers decide to Google me and find my penchant for calling challenging co-workers, "festering boogerheads."

But that is neither here nor there. I want to write about how I keep outing geeks on the job.

In IT, it doesn't matter if you are a geek or not. Like the state of Texas, everyone assumes if you are here by choice, you ain't quite right. Because we're all not quite right, we make this silent agreement - I will tolerate your foibles if you will tolerate mine. IT people tolerate such quirks as poor grooming habits, anger management issues, or claims of psychic abilities. Basically the mantra in IT is, "If you do your job and do it well, we don't care about anything else."

Management is a little different. Management cares about appearances, non-quirky personalities, and the thread count of your tie. So much about management focuses on the appearance of success, so quirky little eccentricities are considered suspicious signposts that you might be a failure.

I can't help but be my geeky self, and sometimes I accidentally out other management people as geeks. The most recent example happened during a meeting where we were discussing a drop in first quarter profits. After the announcement, I said in a deep resounding voice, "Elf shot the food."

Only the geeks laughed.

And I assume only the truly geeky will laugh at this blog post.


Maida said...

I laughed out loud.

Man, I am *such* a geek.

NoRegrets said...

I don't get it. I'm not a geek. Pout...

Susan said...

I laughed and actually repeated it out loud. Now people are staring..

M. Robert Turnage said...

NoR, it is a reference to the arcade game 'Gauntlet'. The premise of the game is that four players simultaneously work together to explore a dungeon while the game announces each player's screw ups in a loud, booming voice. "Warrior is about to die!" is another great line the game would say.

Elf shooting the food was a bad thing, but somehow Elf always managed to shoot the food. I hated playing Elf.

Maida said...

Not surprisingly, I *always* played the Valkyrie.

We have Gauntlet for our Xbox.

"Valkyrie needs food badly."


Courtney said...

I am sad and disappointed in myself that I failed the geek test, but I am glad to have the explanation.

Gyuss Baaltar said...

We have a game at my office where someone says something geeky just in normal conversation, then someone tries to carry the reference forward and be even more geeky. And so on and so on until someone is declared "King of the Geeks!" for the day.

I win way too often.

Cyber D said...

I have it on good authority that the Elf also shot the sheriff.

InvisibleMarketing said...

courtney: I didn't qualify either. But did giggle (and hit Wikipedia). Reckon that counts for something.

Gyuss: your office must be a funner place than most. Funner is a word.

Cyber D: so who shot JR?