Punch Cards and Gray Hair
A gazillion years ago, I went to college. For a couple years, I was a computer science major. What I really loved was photography, but I thought maybe I should take a more practical path (wait, that was my parents who thought that). So I signed up for some programming classes, and found that I actually liked it!
I loathed the thought of ever working in an office though, ever since my mom and dad used to bring me to their insurance business when I was a little kid. I was positively claustrophobic, amongst the filing cabinets and typewriters and paperwork <shudders>.
But this computer thing was different — it was creative — and challenging in a way that I liked. So for a couple years I played around with BASIC and COBOL and RPG and FORTRAN — most of those now ancient languages.
I still longed to do photography though. And the computer thing was getting hard. Truth be told, I was kind of a fuck-up in college — so I took the easier route. Photography it is. In the long run, it actually worked out pretty well, since I had a bit of a leg up when everything photographic went digital. I mean, I get computers. So there’s that.
But now — a mere 35 years after I graduated from college — I’m starting to think about this computer programming thing again — or as the kids call it, coding. Suddenly, I have this bee in my bonnet (ok, I have never used that expression before) that I must sign up for something where I can learn quickly.
I’m picturing myself coding remotely on some beach in St. Tropez, or some coffee shop in Rio within six months. It’s totally doable. Plus, learning new things is good for building new synapses — I’ll live forever! Well, my brain will, at least.
After a quick google search I find a conveniently-located Coding Boot Camp. They even offer a part-time online program. Sweet. I mean, I still have to work while I’m learning this new thing. And there’s an intro session the following evening — with pizza! I promptly sign up. Boom.
So I know I’m going to be the oldest person there — that’s a no-brainer. I mean, I have gray hair. And hearing aids. But you can’t see those unless you look real close.
I find the place, and make my way up to the sixth floor, right behind the pizza delivery guy. After signing in, I grab a couple slices, maneuver past the ping pong table, and have a seat in the front row.
It starts right on time, led by a bubbly twentysomething chick, who admittedly knows nothing about coding, but alongside her is one of the instructors…a young dude wearing a wacky t-shirt and shorts. It’s all very casual, man, as one might expect. Giant bean bag chairs are strewn about.
First thing, we have to introduce ourselves by saying:
- Our name
- Our occupation
- And a FUN FACT about ourselves.
Oh, seriously, shoot me now.
There’s one other guy in the front row, and he goes first, while I try to think of my fun fucking fact.
I’m Linda. I’m a photographer. Back in the Stone Age, when I went to college, I was a computer science major, and we had to punch each line of code onto a card, then wait a few hours after handing over our big stack of cards to the guy who would run it through the mainframe computer.
Ok, I thought it was kinda funny, but maybe they were just being respectful — you know, not laughing at the old lady. I mean, how crazy is that though, punch cards.
After an awkward silence, the leader girl patronizingly says:
Just so you know, the languages are different now, and the technology has changed quite a bit.
OMG REALLY! NO SHIT! YOU MEAN YOU DON’T TEACH COBOL ANY MORE?
But I just said:
“I get that.”
They proceeded with the program, which wasn’t the one I was interested in anyway, but rather an intensive 70–90 hours a week Bootcamp for 14 weeks. Um, no thanks.
When it was time for questions, I inquired about the part-time, online course they offered. She said that I should look online for information about that one. Alrighty, then.
She showed us around. There were whiteboards all over the place, scrawled with a lot of scary, unrecognizable shit. Oh no, this is not your grandmother’s coding.
So after our quick tour of the joint, I hauled my gray-haired, punch-carding ass outta there.
Maybe in my next life I’ll be a coder (‘tho it might be called something completely different by then), but for now…
Photography it is.