Let me tell ya’ll a story. Yes, I’m Australian and that slang isn’t commonplace, but neither am I so whatever.
I am from a tiny little island right down the bottom of this country called Tasmania. I guess you could call it ‘the land down under the land down under’ but you probably shouldn’t as that sounds quite confusing.
When I was in my early twenties, my partner and I decided to move to Queensland with our son. I got a job as a plastics engineer (sounds technical, but I just watched a machine run all day and made sure it didn’t stop) and we were pottering along just swimmingly. Eventually, we ended up separating after four years as we realised we were significantly different people. Me being young and having no family around to support me, I made the difficult decision to move back to this little island.
Down there, it gets cold. So cold that in some regions, the grass feels more like stone as it doesn’t give way to your weight in the frosty morning air. I can only assume this is the main reason it is so devoid of any activity. It is quite empty and the potential for economic opportunity down there is almost exclusively restricted to retail or labour industries. Ergo, I got an apprenticeship as a retail Butcher by the good graces of a mate of mine. All was well for a few years.
My occupation was a good one. It was stable and once the apprenticeship was over, it paid well. But after a while, there was no challenge for me cognitively and I felt a bit trapped. If I’m honest though, I totally envy those around me who could derive satisfaction from it. How much easier would my life have been if I had that ability? So the problem now was where to? I am way too delicate to toil the fields all day long. If I had to live off the sweat of my brow, I may well end up not living.
I figured I should get out while I was still young.
Of course, It wasn’t the location that was the problem. I may not have realised it at the time, but in fact, it is one of the best places on earth. But I needed to leave to get that perspective and to acquire the bountiful knowledge I have today. I left back to Brisbane to be with my son and see what else was out there.
I worked another job as a butcher on a factory line and it was only then I was able to see retail as some kind of divine utopia by comparison. It was so bad. I quit there and thought to myself ‘right Justin, you gotta get out of this grind while you still can’.
I was getting poor. Somehow, by the grace of whatever omnipotent being might be watching over us, I ended up back at the same corporation that I had done my apprenticeship with. I went through a few departments and made my way back into the butchers.
This was just part-time work to cover me while I busted through the next colossus of my life: University.
I started a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. I liked writing, I still do (clearly). I had the attitude that I just had to do something. I knew the career prospects were limited but I was gonna break the mould dammit! Eventually, I became weary with the fickle nature of a subjective science (AKA art) like writing and was at my wits end.
A friend of mine suggested ‘why don’t you do computer science’. I was like ‘woah, there is maths! I couldn’t possibly!?’ But I did it anyway. It’s working out nicely so far.
Now, I told you all of this because not only do I want you to know me, but I want you to understand why I am here. I found computer science in that mess and loved it. I miss my home as well. I want to go back there and buy a block of land and practice being as self-sufficient. Building the micro-engines that drive the web is a part of that future.
I am on my way.