Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dog days of August

One turns a palindrome every 11 years, yet the distance between now and 33 feels closer than the one from 22 to 33. 33 was at is own cusp - a few weeks before the towers fell, a few months from my bank imploding in the dot com bust, and a few days after swimming from alcatraz for the first time. But I live now only 50 feet from my 30’s apartment. I traded working cramped around a trading desk in the Bank of America building to working cramped around a start up table trying to build a mobile app.

The difference is that my workspace now has dogs not phones. As part of the Hamms Building’s quest to become a tech incubator they allow dogs for their tenants. Ours is a small yapping ball that nibbles on visitors. She is taking obedience classes to try to teach to her that she is a dog even if she is the most spoken to thing in the office. Similarly my boss has a group of venture capitalist to teach him how to play fetch. Everybody has a master even if nobody has a land line.

The issue arrives when there are multiple dogs in the same elevator; I have learned to push myself towards the back while the growling escalates. Everyone believes that theirs are perfectly well behaved, but being in cramped quarters changes things. In the event of a fire the people with dogs are supposed to wait until the ones without have exited, but I have no doubt that when the flames are blaring that anyone is going to be polite.

The mobile world feels like there are too many dogs trapped in the same elevator. There is only so much territory for peoples attention and with thousands of apps on millions of phones only a few on going to survive. The earnings reports are starting to smell.

Still it is necessary to pretend that one’s own will work. At 22 I believed more than I do now, but I also thought then that no one programmed over 30. Or if they were programmers they didn’t do anything cool.

I do know that at 55 I will think I was as naive at 44 as a was at 22, but what I realize now is that there aren’t that many cool parts to programming. A good portion of it is learning how to dig out of a hole or preferably to have the communication skills so you don’t put yourself into one. But (and I do feel lucky) there are those handful of moments when an idea works, when I do feel brilliant, and that is why I take the smelly elevator everyday.

55 will be different than 44. Perhaps I will write a piece about the speed limit, only to be questioned what a car is. Perhaps I will have moved another 50 feet. I do hope for the impossible dream of getting just a bit more desk space at work, but I am glad now that the major difference between 33 and 44 is that I have someone to share the hours after work in a less smelly place we call home.