Every so often my brain reminds me of a conversation from long ago. Sometimes I’ll go for months without thinking about it, but then it’ll trigger, and I can’t stop thinking about it. It happened this week.
Many years ago I taught technical courses for SAP in their London training centre. There’d often be moments during the day when the students were busy doing exercises and off-topic conversations would start. Here’s how one went down.
Student: "So, Alan, what football team do you support?"
Me: "Oh, I don't support any teams."
Me: "Yeah, not really into soccer at all."
Student: "Wow, so what do you do on a Saturday?"
Student: "I bet you go to B&Q. You know your life is over when you're in B&Q on a Saturday."
Cue laughter from everyone.
For those who aren’t aware B&Q is a big physical (and online) DIY store in the UK.
While obviously humorous, at the time I was a little irritated by this.
Winding the clock back further, as a teenager, many of my friends were quite into football. They had played at school, in college teams, and later in local clubs. They knew the names and careers of famous players.
I was never into football at all. My father wasn’t a football fan and neither was my brother. I never played, went to matches, or watched them on TV. I might watch a national match socially over beer, but that’s about it.
I was more of a nerd, unsurprisingly.
While out drinking with those friends at the local pub or over curry in a local restaurant, a ’tech’ topic might come up. A couple of my mates had an interest in technology or indeed worked in the tech sector, but most didn’t.
If the collective group of football-enjoying friends didn’t like the tech topics, we’d get shown virtual ‘yellow cards’ to shut down the conversation. I don’t know if it was just me or anyone talking about computer stuff being shut down, but I only remember it being me.
Bear in mind I’m talking 1990-1995 era, so tech topics weren’t quite what they are now. Smartphones weren’t a thing, and most people didn’t have a laptop or desktop PC. I get that if they’re not super into a topic, it can be difficult to get involved if you’re not ‘into’ the topic in question. But it irritated me that football was an ‘allowed’ topic, but tech wasn’t.
So when the guy on the training course jokingly quipped about your life being over if you’re in a DIY shop on Saturday, and not enjoying football on the sofa or in the stands, it probably hit a bit harder on the nose than it should.
When I later discovered Linux, Linux User Groups and Ubuntu LoCo Teams, I found my kin. Nobody shut down a tech conversation at any LUG meeting I went to. As a result, I tend to spend more time hanging out with nerds than the people from my past, which is fine. I even went on a day trip to two nuclear power stations with a couple of my uber-nerd friends!
So yeah, today I went to B&Q to buy some stuff for the house and was reminded of this stupid anecdote again. One day I’ll forget it, but not today.