Freak Systems

Fight the Pallor!

There are certain assumptions about software engineers that are more or less true. They are super focused and love intricate work. They are creative in ways that are surprising and inventive when they are on a roll. They work indoors of course 99% of the time with few breaks other than a chat or two with a fellow engineer. They aren’t into daytime outdoor activities as there is precious little time. They make the best of off hours at night. Thus they are pale as can be and look like they have never seen the light of day. I don’t suppose it really matters but this is why there is a stereotype of engineers.

One day I decided to take action and remedy the stereotype if only for a day. It was just to mock the usual description of engineers, so here is what I did. I took one long look in the mirror and nearly choked at my image. I was so horribly pale and ashen. I was not going to resort to a spray tan center. That is for celebrities and show offs. Instead, I made a vow to spend all weekend in the above ground pool in my parent’s backyard. It is a nice big one, great for swimming laps. But this time it wasn’t about getting in shape. It was about getting some sun. There are a couple of lawn chairs by the pool where I could sit for a while and read while getting my much-desired tan. It was relaxing and pleasant—not too hot of a day. I spent quite a bit of time out there with only an occasional snack break. My mother warned me to put on some sunscreen, but by this time it was too late. Even though I tried to slather it on, the sun had taken its toll. Instead of a lovely brown tan, I was horribly sunburned.

You can imagine the reaction of my colleagues the very next day. I was rosy pink tending toward the red side. What on earth were you doing? they all exclaimed in unison. They couldn’t believe I was outside all weekend by the pool. It’s not that they wouldn’t have enjoyed a similar time, but they didn’t expect it of me and they certainly didn’t expect the consequences. It took a week before my red skin calmed down and turned golden. Then there was the peeling stage which ruined my glow. I will have to do it all over again to restore my new look. No more pale face. I might even start a new trend among engineers. Seriously, I doubt that I will be consistent with my suntanning schedule, but for a while I will make an effort. I kind of like the color in my skin. I don’t look like I shun the outdoors any more. Maybe all I have to do is cut the tanning time in half to avoid another burn. Or I could sit in the park and just expose my face to the sun for an hour. But I love the swimming pool as a setting so this is my first choice.