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Inflicting Help (TESTHEAD)

On March 5, 2012, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing
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There are some benefits to my being actively engaged in many causes. My wife, Christina, often comments that she likes it when I have a lot on my plate and that I’m actively engaged in various causes. I thought that this was because she admired what I did. Turns out, there’s a much deeper and darker reason… she likes when I’m engaged in other things because it keeps me from “puttering around the house”.

See, there’s a certain danger when you are married to a tester. Testers are fond of asking “is there a problem here?” and applying it to just about everything. I know this to be true because, this weekend, I deliberately made a point of “dis-engaging” from some things so that I could breathe a little bit, get some rest, recharge my batteries, and just not feel like I had to be running on all cylinders. Of course, all it takes is a few minutes and we start to see things that could be “improved” or “tweaked” to work better. Christina dreads when I do this (LOL!).

An example. We had a really nice dinner this evening, and Christina used some of the fancy bowls that we have that look like they’d be right at home in a high end Thai restaurant. They are beautiful, but they are large and various depths and they just don’t fit well in the dishwasher. As I pulled everything out to reload the dishwasher, I let out the phrase “you know, if we used our standard dishes, this would be much easier to load”… and I’m sure a good part of the population knows where this is going, don’t you? What was a simple comment on my part turned into a fairly lengthy discussion about how this was a special meal and that she doesn’t use these bowls very often and why was I butting my nose into how she cooked and managed meals anyway? I committed a fairly common sin here… I inflicted help where it wasn’t really wanted.

Not content to leave well enough alone, later on, I was helping my daughter with a project, and I noticed that she was working on a drawing from a computer screen image. as I watched her draw and scoot things around on the screen, I thought “you know, monitors are not very expensive, and we could easily get her a monitor that is double the size and clarity of the one that we have right now… oh, but it would mean I’d have to remove the top part of the desk… well, is that really all that useful? Let me ask Christina.” Really? Am I going to do this again?! Twice in one day? Of course I am!

Needless to say, that didn’t go over very well, especially when I brought up the thoughts of the benefits of re-purposing the room and making it more efficient. Her response? “Well, if space is such a concern, imagine how much space we could reclaim if that gargantuan fish tank were disassembled and moved out of the room. Now that would give us some major space in that room!” Needless to say, I was less than enamored with that idea, but it made the point very clear to me. I often look to places where improvements can be made that require little of my own habits to change, or barring that, where the changes I make keep many of the “features’ I care about, without necessarily looking at the features my wife or my kids care about. Honestly, they are often not the same things.

Thus, for the time being, I will keep my notes and my observations to myself, or at least be less vocal about them unnless or until Christina brings up a problem area herself and asks for my opinion. I will also go back to my guiding mantra from my work environments and better implement them at home. Know when your input is of value and can help with genuine issues, but likewise, know when you are just inflicting help. If it’s the latter, it’s rarely going to go well :).

 

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