Stories from a Tech Writer's Studio: An Intern and the Wrong One‏

The last few companies in China I worked with were bullish with interns. They sometimes hired interns that were either too young or too fickle (the latter being a bigger inconvenience to companies). When I was working as a consultant in Shanghai, I felt as old as Harrison Ford in Crystal Skull, but not nearly as good humoured, attractive no as spry.

In a recent workplace I was fortunate enough to visit, I interacted with stolid, skilled, unkempt engineers who wore shorts and Longine watches I could never ever afford. Some of them lived and died by the code they wrote and believed with all their heart and soul that a single incorrect line of Java would end the world. I have long praised developers and programmers here at Unsolicited But Offered, but the degree of self-importance they carry with them is off-putting to say the least. It's because of this reason that I am more interested in speaking with interns than cynical half-drugged programmers. Many of the interns are innocent and wide-eyed and therefore generally more friendly with a foreigner who can't speak Cantonese nor Mandarin.


 

You would be surprised how engineers, programmers and UI designers come in all shapes and sizes.


One such gent, a tall, sturdy man-child, befriended me after a brief bout with a software issue recorded in Bugzilla. He humbly admitted his English limitations on our first encounter, which I told him was not a problem (my lack of Chinese skills was). The youthful would-be programmer wasn't talkative but he grinned amiably when I walked past his workstation. I tried to give him a reassuring pat, remembering how no one treated me kindly when I got started a few decades ago.

I was working on documentation for an obtuse API when my new acquaintance sauntered over and gave me a nod. Relieved that I could temporarily turn away from my standing desk, Y (and that is a good anonymous reference) and I chatted for a bit in the most informal and work-unrelated manner.  Y talked about a relationship he was in and how he knew it wasn't right. Being a migrant worker in a largely alien city, he was lonely and had no choice but to continue relations with his female companion. Yes, she was lovely and wealthy and successful. No, she was a few years younger.

 

Wangjing Area, Beijing


I shifted uncomfortably as Y talked, knowing full well that my knowledge of relationships (and my own amazingly poor record) was as substantial as the voltage running through a capacitive touch screen.  I listened carefully to Y not only because he spoke in a halting manner, but because it had been several weeks someone had spoken to me about a topic unrelated to software or devices.

"She is amazing," Y admitted, scratching the back of his head. "But she is not for me. I do not know why she wants to be with me at all. She is too beautiful . . . goes out too much and is not a very nice person."

I looked up at the youth (and yes he was taller than me by a good 4 inches). I sighed and wondered why some people were blessed with everything. Most people looked at me and made the same facial expression they reserve when they see spoilt food in the refrigerator.

 

I don't know why anyone would talk to me about relationships. I do exactly the same activity shown in this photo from Hollywood Homicide (2003). Only I do it with a glass of Ovaltine.


Y took out his smartphone - a Xiaomi Mi4 device. He showed me a picture of his lady and saw a hint of pride in his eyes along with a sad smile on his face. His lady was doing that annoying pout that Millenials love to do with their selfies. She was very pretty, though she did emit a glowing sophistication that outshined the humbler and more sincere smile of Y.

 "She believes in different things than me. She values different things," Y looked at his huge hands. "I am a simple person without much money nor experience. I have always been content with what I had until I met her and realized that other people have and want more."

I swallowed hard and I would've advised him to break it off if he was actually a friend. Relationships with people you do not share beliefs with nor like don't have any value and a waste of time in the end. However, loneliness and being a loner is different for everybody and Y was a total stranger. I also knew that most men would kill to have a lovely, wealthy and successful lady as their girl.      

 As we went back to our respective workstations, I gave him the best encouraging MacGyver/Richard Dean Anderson nod I could muster. As I truncated a piece of code to ensure it was published correctly in the PDF output, I sighed and glanced at my Sony Xperia C3 Dual. I certainly didn't have a picture of a lovely girl to show off to a new friend, even if it was a young lady who caused me heartache.

 

My address book only fills up one page in the C3's screen. To be fair the C3 has a huge screen.

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