Being a geek is a tough job. Just keeping up with the constant changes means you have to really want to spend the time doing it. It also helps that your significant other is fairly independent, since being a geek isn’t something you can share (unless your wife / husband is a geek too).
Clients don’t make your job any easier. Any profession where the client can’t comprehend what it takes to accomplish the job, is a career frought with distrust. How many clients always say things to geeks like:
“It always worked before”
“You want how much money?”
“I don’t know, the whole thing is broken”
The last statement is probably one of the more common things I hear, when I help people with their computer issues. It’s also one of the things that makes being a network adminstrator / computer consultant the hardest. Imagine how difficult it is to fix a problem when the information you have to work with is “the computer keeps crashing”. If the only thing you told your doctor was, “I don’t feel good”, do you think he could help you?
What’s especially difficult is having proof of a client’s own fault, but needing the cash they’re going to pay to fix an issue. I’ve worked on networks where the boss was responsible for bringing the whole thing down, due to inappropriate internet viewing. The boss want’s to know who is costing them all of this money, and it’s actually their own fault. Try to explain that one, and still expect to get paid what you deserve.
Hackers (read: black hat) don’t make life any easier. Life is already filled with enough work, then a kid using someone elses program finds a way to attack your site / network. That vacation you had planned with the family? Forget it. Now, try to explain that to your wife / husband. Much like a doctor, work is not 9 – 5, and when an issue arises, you’d better be ready to deal with it, immediately.
I’ve performed network upgrades that took 200 hours of work in 2 weeks to accomplish. The client pays for a network upgrade, and doesn’t like to hear about “change orders” to the agreement. If you missed an “obvious” detail of their network, then that’s your fault.
Another amazingly irritating thing clients do: think you can run their software for them. I have an engineering degree. I write software. I fix networks. I have no idea how to do your business. So when you want the computer guy to tell you how to use your accounting / billing / CRM software, don’t expect much. Most geeks know how to use the software, but it’s up to you to learn it and use it for yourself.
Finally, and perhaps the most frustrating thing about being a geek, is the lack of respect we get for the job we do. It’s irritating to see people with no skillset in life but the ability to talk, treat you as fodder for their enterprise. The jobs we geeks do are not expendable. The next time you dismiss the guy who writes your website, or fixes your e-mail problem, think about what you’d do without him / her.