Friday, August 17, 2001

When Doughboys Attack

Last night I went to the Richmond Arms and sat in the corner of an L-shaped bar. Not the most strategic place to be, since you can get cornered, but there was no place else and besides, what's the worst that could happen? The guy behind me nudges me by accident, apologizes, and starts a conversation. He says, "So, you work with computers?"

Now this guy was a chubby fellow with glasses like mine and a white shirt that made him resemble the Pillsbury doughboy. So he wasn't joking or trying to make a veiled insult. Computer people are, it seems, like tanners or fish cleaners -- you can tell us by our smell. Doughboy went on to explain how smart he was and how stupid everyone else was, bragged on how much money he makes, and started an annoying game wherein he tested my computer knowledge. He started with whether I could convert assembly language (nope, never needed to) and failing that, gave me a 10-minute lecture about why everyone in the business should know how. This was the doughboy's version of a bar fight; only he was too civil to do it with chairs and bottles. Instead, we play Trivial Pursuit, Computer Geek edition. Question No. 2 was, "What is 666? Or 777?" Sigh. "Are you referring to UNIX permissions in octal?" Ding! He was impressed and offered me a job as a support engineer, making $28K less than I make now.

As I started to maneouver away, his buddy moved in and asked what we Mensans were talking about. I stared. How did he know? Is "Brainiac" written over my head? Can I get my sign changed? I'd like one that says "Bugger Off"... The best I could do was retort, "I'm not in Mensa... anymore." So he started asking me about comma splices.

Meanwhile, a girl came over to the bar and stood by Doughboy as she ordered her drink. "What did you drive here in?" he asked, and before waiting for a reply mentioned his Porche 911.

I began to believe I was in nerd hell. The grammar-curious one was asking me something about NPR when I excused myself, pressed the Seat Eject button under my bar stool and made for the restroom.