I work in a software house, that means I live every day surrounded by Nerds. Authentic Nerds, deeply Nerd, as only a developer can be.
Let me start by saying that the Nerd is a social being. Different from ordinary people, but still social: understanding how to handle Nerds is essential to having a serene and happy working life.
Let me also point out that I am not a Nerd and they felt it immediately. Because a Nerd recognizes a non-Nerd and becomes immediately distrustful.
I don’t dress like them, I don’t talk like them, I don’t laugh at what they laugh at, but I devised some tricks that allows me to survive.
If you are thinking about a career working among Nerds, you will find these tips useful and you will eventually find out that living among Nerds is pleasantly strange.
1) Pretend to talk like them
It’s easy to pretend to talk like them, because I’m quite sure they don’t even know what they say.
So you just need to decisively use some keywords. Use them with self-confidence, overuse them, even at random, but always seem confident.
Here are some key words:
- Deploy and Commit (I understand from the context in which they use them, that they both mean “save” but they never use the word “save” because it does not give them satisfaction, so use these two keywords too)
- Eclipse (This is a noun not a verb, be careful with these subtleties otherwise you will be discovered; I do not know exactly what it is, but it’s a nice word. Wikipedia explains that it is “an integrated multi-language and multiplatform development environment” and it confuses me further… but they like this word, so find a way to use it)
- Italian Nerds always use Italianized English words, they like it.
- Use TODOs continuously because it gives them a sense of immediate happiness.
- Use Padulo instead of problem, they understand it better and feel more satisfaction in solving it.
2) Never say “Google isn’t working”, ever!
If you say this sentence they will blame you. Trust me, I’ve experienced it. It also generates lengthy and tedious discussions about Google’s reliability.
So even if Google doesn’t work, use other life-threatening phrases like “the network is down”, which means exactly that “Google doesn’t work” but it is accepted as plausible by Nerds and, above all, pushes them to help you.
3) Never ask for a new PC
Be satisfied with what you have, because the ask the question “What specifications should it have?”, “Metallized silver” according to the nerd is not a valid answer. Trust me… you will never be able to give a valid answer to that question. So keep what you have and resign yourself.
4) Prepare Alternative Topics
Nerds always talk about their own topics, very boring topics, that you will not understand, expressed in an incomprehensible language.
They talk about classes, instances, nulls, ifs, trunks… and they laugh a lot and you will feel so alone and isolated watching them laugh.
So if you do not want to pass all your coffee breaks alone and isolated, prepare alternative topics to change the subject.
How? Very easy:
- Watch a lot of TV series, especially watch Game of Thrones in the original language. It’s essential to preview it in the original language, otherwise you’ll always be a week late and this will be a further reason of exclusion
- Watch TEDs, in the sense of TEDs at random, it’s all right, it just has to be TEDs
- Denigrate Internet Explorer and laugh loudly as you do it, they will follow you and you will be the idol of the crowds.
5) Order lots of things on Amazon
Receiving a ton of Amazon parcels is fundamental. Fundamental!
You must receive at least 3 per week and everyone will have to see it or you will never be one of them.
So immediately sign up to Amazon Prime for two important reasons:
- On Prime Day they will all be stressed and excited, you can not stay out of it
- You will save a lot in shipping cost with all those parcels
6) Wear Star Wars T-Shirts
Not every day, but occasionally wear one. They will look at you with admiration, nodding delighted.
As an alternative to Star Wars, also go for a Big Bang Theory T-shirt: look for “Bazinga” on Amazon Prime and it’s a done deal.
7) Gaming evenings
Nerds find it fun to organize gaming evenings in the office. They are isolated, do not talk to each other, but they play the same game. They love it. You do not know how to do it and, let me say it, you do not really want to do it!
Always join the gaming evenings with enthusiasm. When they ask you if you’ve already downloaded the game, you will always say “yes” and then change the topic (use Game of Thrones).
The gaming day, confirm you will participate and then don’t show up. They will never notice: they will be too happy and blessed to notice that you are not there.
8) React well to the criticisms about your clothing
The Nerd is dressed badly, I’m not saying anything new, but you’ll be amazed to know that even if they wear embarrassing knee-high shorts, white socks and shiny T-shirts, the Nerd will always be over-critical on YOUR clothing. And you know how to dress!
You will experience a tremendous sense of paradox… but you have to repress it because the Nerd is a sensitive being and you never have to make him feel inadequate.
Shoes are the classic target of his criticism and you can only react in two ways that the Nerd is willing to consider acceptable:
- Argue: Explain your choice ONLY with rational arguments (comfortable, waterproof, versatile…); rationality grips the Nerd and persuades him. Do not ever say “Because they are nice” or “because it’s in fashion”: these are concepts that drive them to madness.
- Accept criticisms nodding and not commenting: keep in mind that the Nerd dresses in 5 minutes and in the dark, he has only one pair of shoes and ignores the basics; if they do not like it, it means that it is beautiful, you have to feel honored, rejoice inside and start talking about the Game of Thrones.
9) Positive reinforcement
The Nerd is a reserved being, but you will need him because you will often do not understand things that he understands.
They don’t like helping a non-nerd, they know it will be difficult to get it done, but if you put a candy basket on your desk, they will come to your office gladly.
Important: If they solve your problem, hand out the basket and invite them to take another candy. Never underestimate the power of positive reinforcement.
10) Interact with other humans in their place
The Nerd knows everything about computers and technology in general, but struggles to communicate with non-nerds.
You will understand it immediately, because for the first 4 or 5 months you will not understand anything they say.
The problem is that often your customers will be non-nerd and you will have to learn how to translate for them.
At first it will be difficult, but then they will be grateful for your hard work translating and will repay you by being helpful whenever Google doesn’t work.