Now and then I like to pose hypothetical questions to myself to keep my mind occupied. And this week I came up with a doozy.
A little background: My ultimate career goal is not to make as much money as possible. It’s to find work that allows me to do my work on my own terms. Over the years I’ve learned that I’m at my creative and productive peak when I can take my laptop to coffee shops, Wi-Fi enabled restaurants, even the library – and work from there. I’ve also learned that I tend to be at my mental peak when I go to bed around 2 AM and wake up around 9. No matter how good a job is in every other respect, I will always feel somewhat imprisoned by a cubicle and an 8-to-5 schedule.
So here’s the question I posed to myself. What if someone called me and said, “Paul, we saw your resume online and are interested in talking to you. We need someone to program and administer our ASP.NET/SQL Server website. You’d be able to do it when and where you want… as long as you have an Internet connection, it’s up to you where you work, and what hours. We’d be willing to pay you what you’re making now, at your current job. Would you be interested?”
“Sure!” I would say. “Of course I’d be interested!”
“Well, there’s just one thing,” continues the hypothetical caller. “The site you’d be working on is a porn site. You wouldn’t appear the site, obviously. You’d just take care of the back-end programming and administration. Everyone pictured on the site will be over 18 – there’s no child exploitation or anything like that. And we plan on having mechanisms in place – which you would help to develop – to make sure that the site is only viewed by people who are of age. So, given that, would you have any objection to programming a porn site?”
Wow. That would be a tough call. On one hand, I’d do just about anything to escape Cubicle World. And although I’m not into porn personally, I have no moral objection to other people looking at it, if that’s what they’re into, as long as everyone involved is of age.
But, on the other hand, if I took the job I’d be “the porn guy.” Everywhere I’d go, I’d be viewed through the frame of my job. Would normal, well-adjusted, professional women want to date me, knowing what I do for a living? Would they think, “oh my god, what do I tell my friends, my parents, when they ask what he does for a living?” And also, how would I list the job on my resume? No matter how good my programming skills, I’m sure quite a few prospective employers would toss my resume in the trash the moment they typed in the site’s URL and saw what I had been working on.
Another problem is, working on that type of site would limit my ability to do my work at Wi-Fi coffee shops and restaurants. I mean, can you imagine me working at Starbucks, testing my code, with naked people on the screen doing all sorts of things to each other, in full view of the college student studying at the next table, and the three old ladies at the table behind me? I’d be too embarrassed to do my work at the Saucer where the waitresses might see it. As for my other favorite Wi-Fi spot – Sleep Out Louie’s – the employees and regulars would probably encourage me to do my work there, and in fact take such an interest that they’d frequently want to see what I’m working on. But then the general managers of the corporation that runs Sleep Out’s would hear about it and they would tell the staff that I can’t do my work there anymore.
And then the other problem is, if I worked on a porn site I’d have to sit there and look at porn all day while I test my code. After a while, would I still be able to maintain normal, healthy relationships while viewing porn 40 hours a week? Or would it eventually seep into my brain and affect the way I act?
So, after thinking it all over, it’d be damn tempting but I’d probably turn it down. Guess I’ll have to come up with an alternate plan to escape from Cubicle World.