Story of a lost journalist

July 10, 2008

The life and ways of a Software Engineer

Filed under: life,Theory — Cris @ 21:19
Tags: ,

Relax everyone I am back! So is my net connection. Yippee!
For today, I will write something a friend of mine was telling me about today. Funny and yet sad!

She is a would-be Software Engineer so she finds it distasteful and unbelievable how the life of a Software Engineer could be such a drag! When this about-to-be-told incident happened, she was stalled in a road block inside her bus. So she was watching 4 lazy lousy just-woken-up SEs in action. This is how she said it.

“Chechi (elder sis), there was this house. And this typical Software Engineer with all Software Engineer qualities evident in his demeanor, appears yawning and he practically drags himself to this shop nearby, at the speed of 10 cm/10 seconds (that’s for effect, it translates to super slow motion). He reaches there, buys a banana and takes the 1cm/s journey back to the house.

Now guy 2 appears in front of the same house. And the same routine is followed, including the super-turtle steps to the shop, the banana buying and the return to the house. Guy 3 follows this and then guy 4 does too. Would anyone believe this if I told them Chechi! But seriously, this is exactly how it happened (the author added the speed measurement, so no exaggeration from the narrator).

And that’s not it Chechi. Now guy 1 appears again and he walks in this same pattern to a nearby tree, which apparently served the dustbin to the whole neighborhood. He drops the banana peel, returns, again to be followed in the same way one by one, by Guys 2, 3, 4”


I was laughing the hell out at the end of this. Thing is, as weird as it sounds, I knew the whole thing was just as easily possible. Having lived an SE’s life for over 2 years, I knew the pattern. Yup, it’s us all the way. This friend of mine was asking “Really Chechi, do people not talk to each other or anything when they are in a professional world? How come the first guy didn’t buy for all 4 or they didn’t all go together?”
I gave her a long pep-talk. She had to know the world she was entering. Leave all preconceived notions of die-for-you friendships behind. “This, dear girl was the professional world. Not your school, not your college.”

It’s not that everyone in the software world is averted to friendship or devoid of any human feelings. Cause of course they maybe software engineers, but there might just be a possibility there is a human in them somewhere, if you observe closely; though they show all signs of being otherwise. Not scientifically proven; but not unproven either. But don’t let yourself be carried away. It would be wise to study the actions of a typical machine, any machine, before you deal with one of them. The resemblance is astounding. Switch them on and they work, switch them off and they are zombies!

Note: Any personal attack against the author for this post will be regarded highly offensive. Freedom of speech and expression was injected into the Constitution to serve a purpose! Do remember that before you take any further action!



  1. he he! I liked the Note: at the end! 😀

    Comment by sajith — July 10, 2008 @ 21:28 | Reply

  2. what’s wrong with a little morning walk?:)

    Comment by nithin — July 10, 2008 @ 22:07 | Reply

  3. cool drawing!

    Comment by nithin — July 10, 2008 @ 22:27 | Reply

  4. @sajith, hehe that was unavoidable! I like to live!

    @nithin, aha your secret is out! You follow the same lousy lazy banana routine dont you? Its not just the walk, I meant the non-comunicating, mechanical-like lives. And wow, an artist saying my drawing is cool! Then it really must be cool 😀

    Comment by Cris — July 10, 2008 @ 22:52 | Reply

  5. They know the importance of walking!! 😀

    Comment by Srijith — July 10, 2008 @ 22:56 | Reply

  6. Adapting my own from Harvey Dent, “Work with the machines; and you either die human, or you live long enough to see yourself become a machine”

    Glad I don’t work with the machines 😉

    Comment by Reia Organa — July 10, 2008 @ 23:13 | Reply

  7. @Cris – Where is the artist? I don’t see one here :))

    Comment by Anoop John — July 10, 2008 @ 23:42 | Reply

  8. My experience was kinda different. We used to enjoy a lot in groups. The work and working atmosphere was pathetic. I can’t deny that! I give all credits to my friends that can I say it loud….“I am still alive” 🙂
    Nice drawing! u did that in mspaint? Girl u got a steady hand I must say! If I attempt to draw a face like this .. :O ! yeah u can still call it modern art! 😀

    Comment by rose — July 10, 2008 @ 23:52 | Reply

  9. Wonderful Article Cris… just loved it! Every bit of it is true. Code Monkeys! As i would call myself! Pity we dont learn a lot 😦

    anyways, how are you doing?

    Comment by Robbie — July 11, 2008 @ 10:45 | Reply

  10. @Cris, @Robbie: I repectfully disagree to the concept of generalizing software professionals to such zombies or code monkeys! I myself have been one for seven years, and I’m the total opposite of a zombie! I have not seen even one in my career who have become a zombie due to the work they do; lest they were so from quite early in their lives.

    Cris, and probably the four guys she saw were on a hangover after a ‘colorful’ night with a rainbow mix of ethanol varients! The description of their walking kinda attributes to that 🙂

    @Reia: I hope that was a joke… else, that’s so not true!!! Computers don’t make you like machines – they help you work smarter! 🙂

    Comment by Tedy Kanjirathinkal — July 11, 2008 @ 19:11 | Reply

  11. ooh… someone’s all worked up here 😉 @ted, chill!!! I was jus’ kiddin’ 😛

    Comment by Reia Organa — July 11, 2008 @ 20:17 | Reply

  12. oops.. did I just miss some action here…? 🙂

    @Cris, cool drawing… Inkscape..? My favourite too… 🙂 and guess Nithin’s too!

    Comment by Arián Kenobi — July 11, 2008 @ 20:21 | Reply

  13. i agree with Tedy here. Just because u had that kind of a software enginneer’s life doesnt mean that all are like that. :P:P And freedom of speech and expression doesnt mean that you can generalize :P. We might find people like that in office. Basically it depends on one’s colleagues, immediate atmosphere around you and how one carries oneself in office. 🙂

    Comment by Prem — July 11, 2008 @ 21:01 | Reply

  14. @Srijith, hehe probably

    @Reia, good one!

    @Anoop John, I meant Nithin 🙂

    @rose, good for you dear! This is not MS Paint. Its inkscape. Real good. That does half the work for you hehe! You just need to move the mouse!

    @Robbie, haha! Code Monkeys! I think there used to be a funny song about Code monkeys, used to come as a forward. I am doing alright Bro :-). No updates on your blog?

    @Tedy, appreciate your non-zombieness after years in Software. There could be exceptions I guess. And about the 4 guys, yeah that seems a quite likely explanation. Hehe.

    @Arian, yes it was Nithin who told me about Inkscape after my pathetic MS Paint outputs!

    @Prem, good for you 🙂

    Comment by Cris — July 11, 2008 @ 21:16 | Reply

  15. Crappy point Crissie 🙂

    Comment by Gov — July 11, 2008 @ 21:43 | Reply

  16. @Gov, sorry to disappoint you!

    Comment by Cris — July 12, 2008 @ 00:52 | Reply

  17. Lovely post ROFL!!!! I wish I cld watch them too…..Chechi….too good 🙂

    Comment by meghnak — July 12, 2008 @ 21:13 | Reply

  18. -‘Switch them on and they work, switch them off and they are zombies!’
    in retrospect, how sad!
    true to a very great extent.

    Comment by usha — July 13, 2008 @ 22:42 | Reply

  19. @usha: its true with us humans too, infact, worse – switch us on (ie, when we are alive) and we work, switch us off (ie, when we are dead), we are not even zombies – we are dead for ever!

    Comment by Reia Organa — July 13, 2008 @ 22:55 | Reply

  20. @Reia, “its true with us humans too” 🙂
    Software engineers are humans too 😛

    @cris and others too :), the article and the comments make it look like its the biggest grief in the world to be an SE. But most people enroll for engineering courses just to be in software industry coz this industry pays much better comparatively. So all good things come with a price. Here the price is whatever disadvantages that we have to face. But then I know a lot of people in other professions who wd be more than happy to trade places with the SEs. Personally, i am close to being satisfied with what I do but then i consider myself lucky too 🙂

    Comment by Prem — July 13, 2008 @ 23:17 | Reply

  21. @Prem: Usha was quoting Cris’s remark on machines. My point was that humans too are not much different on what happens between the switched on and off moments of zombiness! Its not sad or pathetic being an IT professional – infact most of my merriest friends are from the IT industry! Infact, I have friends from a wide range of professions – I’ve never seen an attribute which really relates a profession to a person’s demeanor; infact, its more the other way!

    Comment by Reia Organa — July 14, 2008 @ 00:42 | Reply

  22. I have a reasonably negative opinion about Indian Software Engineers myself. Before you say anything, read this
    NASSCOMs opinion about Indian SEs
    I believe that Indian IT industry is catering primarily to the corporates of the developed world as low cost labor service providers. There is nothing wrong with this but this black-hole is sucking all the top talent in the country into labor selling factories where they rot without being able to utilize their true capabilities in innovations and inventions. And the lure of the money and the false sense of security binds them to this black-hole for life. I am sure there are exceptions like Tedy and his group of friends. But they are exceptions and not the norm.

    Comment by Minking Than — July 14, 2008 @ 02:50 | Reply

  23. @meghnak, hehe thanks little sis!

    @usha, yeah, my exact feelings

    @Reia, good point, that!

    @Prem, true, good things come with a price. And here, for the price (salary), you are giving up a lot of good things. Well not you, I meant the unlucky ones. Its this price which I assume your other-profession friends want to exchange their jobs for.

    @Minking Than, good article. Most interchangeably used words, coders and programmers. Here is another blog about it. Think its not updated though.

    Comment by Cris — July 14, 2008 @ 03:24 | Reply

  24. @Minking Than, Noone is told that they are going to revolutionize the world with creativity and innovation as soon as they enter an Indian IT company (other than the company taglines, ofcourse 🙂 ). The ‘Black Hole’ concept is like saying that in the 80s, because of the teaching jobs and govt jobs, all talent ended up in class rooms and office rooms sipping tea. But thats the not the case right 🙂 We talk about this ‘developed world’ with so much disdain when it comes to IT industry but then a big majority (not just these zombie IT guys) wants to do an MS or a higher degree only in Universities in these ‘developed nations’. Once the degree is in, most of them prefer to work in these developed countries itself never coming back. Earlier there was brain drain in the form of NRIs. Now they stay here and work for outside. Thats the only difference.

    Comment by Prem — July 14, 2008 @ 15:04 | Reply

  25. @Prem, I don’t have anything against the IT companies and they are doing a wonderful service to the country by generating tonnes of revenue. My ire is against the so called software ‘engineers’ who decide to rot in these companies. Again my ire is against the cream of the lot who could have otherwise done much more had they been outside these companies. And again, it is funny that people blame the system. System is ours to mold, the problem is with the people who allow the system to mold them.

    Comment by Minking Than — July 15, 2008 @ 00:04 | Reply

  26. Hahahaa so here goes the debate again…May be you people need to check my article when I quit TCS…and more importantly the comments that followed.

    Comment by Gov — July 15, 2008 @ 10:35 | Reply

  27. @Minking Than: I’m not really sure why you use the phrase ‘rot in these companies’. And, especially the creme. You think these companies would have been these vast, earning much revenue for the country, opening oppurtunities for millions of India’s technical products, without these ‘creme’ in there? One need not be an entrepreneur or a scientist or any such specials to “do anything more”. And, what do you mean by “do anything more”? Getting more revenue to your country? Creating a better world for your fellow humans? Ain’t these creme in these companies doing the same, indirectly? And, its just not the contributions on the professional front – with power, influence and money, these creme does much more for the world on personal front too.

    What is “rotting”? Decaying of capabilities? If a person has really got something in him, he doesn’t rot anywhere – he identifies avenues for himself, and works up the way to glory, (whether for him or for the general good is his choice) and ends up contributing the stuff I mentioned above. If he doesn’t, well, I guess he has make peace with the miserable life he has chosen to live with. We can’t prevent that in any profession, can we?

    You think everyone in the software industry writes programs? I programmed for around 4 years, and a better part of the latter period, because I chose to, as I liked programming. My time with programming had only helped me to learn more and make myself better. I’d say “go to hell” to the guy who mentioned the difference between coding/programming with all those fundas, in that Nasscom article. Now, after these 4 years, the past 3 years, I had been in management, and I’m telling you, its not a child’s play – whether it be managing your team, or managing your customer, or winning more business – It requires considerable amount of skill, and it surely is defenitly not “rotting”. I’d say, its just the opposite of it. I’m not sure I’m an odd one out; ask any thinking men in these indian IT companies, who have a passion in their heart (those without, are the same everywhere – they choose to rot where ever they are) – they don’t rot – they have avenues, they identify more avenues, and they grow up, they build their own little empires, they contribute to their country, they contribute to their society, and they do enjoy a wonderful life!

    Comment by Tedy Kanjirathinkal — July 15, 2008 @ 17:05 | Reply

  28. @Tedy, Thats what i call ‘making a point’. I wanted to make this point about ‘I did coding/programming for my first 3 years and then moved on to the management side’ but then deleted that content thinking it would be senseless putting it up here :). As far as I know, in these so called ‘IT giants where brains rot’, people do not spend 30-40 years writing codes. I guess for the outside world, NRN and Azeem Premji would be still ‘coders’ 🙂

    Comment by Prem — July 15, 2008 @ 19:37 | Reply

  29. I wonder where Minking Than is?

    Comment by Cris — July 18, 2008 @ 22:32 | Reply

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