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Curse of the Handy | Cypress Semiconductor

Curse of the Handy

I am spending this week at the Cypress FAE conference. For those that don’t know, FAE stands for field applications engineer. These are some of my most favorite people and I look forward to seeing then every 6 months.

The only thing that keeps these guys for being a CTO for some big corporation is that they don’t work well for “The Man”. They hate authority and thrive in chaos. I swear that if some method was found to make them seven years old again, they would all be on Ritalin. I once was in a van with five of them and a cop stopped us. It was hilarious to see one guy trying to talk nice to the cop while others are being obnoxiously confrontational. (“If we give you donut will you go away?” “Your eyes are glazed over, you been eating donuts?) One guy even asked the cop if he knew the carbon footprint of his big ass old car. Of course driver got a BIG ticket, but we all pitched in to pay it and figured  ways to expense to the company. (It’s my theory that cops don’t like nerds. They picked on us in school and they now resent that we make more than them. Way more!)

FAEs suffer from the curse of the handy. Many of you suffer from the same aliment. When your friend’s water heater breaks, do they call you? Are you asked to troubleshoot other people’s computer problems?  I had a friend called me because the ground over is septic tank got mushy. I went over to take a look and help arrange for a dozer to dig up the tank. I made quick repairs because he had plans to go a Sonics game with a buddy. Apparently I am the “solve problems” friend, not the “I have a extra ticket you want to go?” friend.

So the company asks the FAEs to solve show-stopping problems. The reason they do so is that handy people solve the problems. But you are not solving the problem, just solving symptoms.

I believe that in any flawed system, there is a hero that somehow makes the system function. You will never fix the flaw until you kill the hero.

The FAEs gladly do this. They are proud of their coping skills and understand it is the cost of having the freedom of being in the field. I am privileged to know them and I am proud to call many of them friends. I just never drive with five of them in my van.

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