I’m Done Being a Tech Guy

At least, I’m done identifying as one.

When people ask me what I do, my response is automatic: “I’m the tech director for a school district.” This typically demands explanation, and I tell them, “I run the network and fix the computers.”

Without fail, this leads them to say, “You know, I’m having this problem with my computer…” Then they want to know how to fix their problem. I just don’t have the time, the energy, or the desire to deal with it, even if they wanted to pay me (which they don’t, especially after I tell them my rates). The conversation then ends in disappointment and frustration on both sides.

Instead, I’m going to go with one of two responses, depending upon the situation or the person: “I’m a karate instructor” or “I’m a writer.”

For starters, both are more interesting conversation topics and I can chat about them with a little more passion. Nobody wants to hear about my squashing a bug in our network configuration, but people are more attentive to the martial arts or what I write. On very rare occasions someone will turn their nose up at the mention of horror, but it still trumps their irritation if I assure them it will take a lot longer than five minutes to fix all the problems with their five-year-old Windows laptop that junior loaded with viruses.

I’m also hoping it will be better for my sanity and self image. In karate, I’m not as athletic as some of the teen-aged and twenty-something students at the dojo, and my skills aren’t as polished as those of the black belts with more experience, but it’s been good for me and I know I’ve had a positive influence on a lot of our students. In writing, it will be a good reminder that I need to hit the keyboard that night.

Finally, both conversations have a better shot at putting money in my pocket, especially over time. If I tell them I write, then maybe, just maybe, they’ll actually buy something (at the very least I can point them to a freebie). If I tell them I’m a martial arts instructor, then maybe, just maybe, they want to do something to improve their own fitness or learn self defense, or they have kids or know someone with kids they can send my way.

If they press and ask me what actually pays the bills (this usually happens at the dojo), then I can say I work for a school district. What do I do? “I teach the students to use Google Apps” (true) or “I help the teachers integrate technology into their classrooms” (also true). They can assume fixing the computers is someone else’s problem.

So goodbye, Mike the Tech Guy, long live Mike the Writer slash Martial Artist.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.


  1. Cullen Bunn says:


    This a thousand times.

    Although… now you might get people asking you to beat people up for them.

  2. monkeycat says:

    Don’t beat me, don’t beat me, don’t beat me!

  3. monkeycat says:

    Kinda like me being a pharmacist….how many ice cream sodas have I made today, druggist?

    • Mike says:

      I’ve got a pharmacist friend who steers the conversation toward fun customers. When they come in for flu shots, he asks them if they’d prefer to run down the aisle and he shoot it at them from his son’s Nerf gun, or if he should leap down from the shelving and deliver it ninja-style while they finish their shopping.

  4. monkeycat says:

    I like that!

    Before I became a certified immunizer, I would tell my customers that they didn’t want me to give them their flu shot or B12 shot because I preferred to give them via the intraocular route. They would say how’s that? And I would say I inject into the eyeball. No thanks!

    No one got the joke…

    Surprisingly they wouldn’t ask for me again…

  5. monkeycat says:

    With the freaks out there, someone might take me up on the transurethral route.
    “Commence docking procedures.”