The story goes that Picasso was sitting in a Paris café when an admirer approached and asked if he would do a quick sketch on a paper napkin. Picasso politely agreed, swiftly executed the work, and handed back the napkin — but not before asking for a rather significant amount of money. The admirer was shocked: “How can you ask for so much? It took you a minute to draw this!” “No”, Picasso replied, “It took me 40 years”
This goes out to all the friends and colleagues who had their work under-appreciated, regarded with spite or even thrown out completely because they demanded a reasonable pay for it.
When I do work for anybody I don't just sit in front of a computer. I sit in front of a computer because YOU couldn't. I sit in front of a computer because my knowledge and the time I already spent sitting in front of computers entitles me to sit in front of YOUR computer. I sit in front of YOUR computer because I have sat in front of computers for the past 15 fucking years and yes, that time, inevitable, to me, is lost in a sense that I cannot spend it on anything else ever again.
But you're right. I chose to. Because I thought it might come in handy. Nonetheless, right now, I gathered enough experience to manage whatever ridiculous situation YOU have gotten yourself into. Probably by "trying it yourself" or, at first, trying to talk somebody less experienced into accepting a ridiculously lower pay in exchange for their, probably still sufficient, services.
I have never demanded payment from anybody EVER whose tasks muttered out for me in the first place (I emphasize on "first place" because conditions around computers tend to change whenever somebody with actual experience and knowledge assesses a certain problem or situation. You wouldn't expect anybody to repair your car for half the price because his assessment of the damage done differs from your own to a pretty high extend, would you?) , either in speech or writing, I didn't satisfy to the full extend. Computers are complicated and fragile. And one should probably exterminate Microsoft, Apple or any other company trying to suggest otherwise to the paying imbeciles they call consumers.
Computers can do miraculous work. In a fraction of the amount of time a human would need to accomplish the same. But that comes at a very steep price. The learning curve for computer related work doesn't go down over time. On the contrary: It sets for record highs. Which means its getting harder and harder to keep up the longer you try to advance into any given direction. Because, not only need you to keep up with the changes introduced to the "regular" model you learned in the past. You also need to keep up with future development .. which has been accelerating rapidly and will be accelerating rapidly for decades to come (mainly because computers from three years ago are about as powerful as 1/10 of today's). At one time you might just know what to do with a certain program or library. Yet, two versions later you may very well hit the ground hard because strings tying your program's code into another programmer's work have been broken, cut or crippled and you have to start all over again (Granted, usually you do not have to start from scratch but never underestimate the magnitude of changes introduced by upstream development. Plus, a day has only so many hours and you're probably not able to keep up with every new release and every change introduced to software you use while living a healthy life). It takes an enormous amount of time, money, sweat, tears and sobering beverages to get through all this. And in the end you're still socially inept, you probably don't have a girlfriend and the pizza-delivery-guy is the closet you have to a relative.
Of course, I'm stretching it. A lot of people manage very well without accepting these pretenses and still are successful and are able to earn a living working with computers. But as a matter of fact, many aren't. And I'm not blaming their hideous social lives or unhealthy eating habits on you or the job you're about to give them. Anybody should be grateful for a job opportunity that suits them (and here's a little hint for all the morons complaining about their work situation: Don't accept job offers that look like you're not going to enjoy them. Cancel your contract if you do not enjoy working with your current contractor. Quit working at the company you endure a ride to through morning traffic every day just to basically live in agony chained to your cubicle. There are literally hundreds of thousands of job opportunities springing up by the SECOND each and every day. I mean, look at me. I don't own a company, I don't do advertising, I don't hand out CVs, I don't even (legally) call myself a contractor. Yet, I do own about 600 - 800 bucks each month fixing or working with computers. Now, just think about the amount I COULD actually make if I was to proactively pursue this career opportunity). You always have a choice. And if people choose to turn into social wrecks and eat fast food all the time that's their problem.
What I'm trying to say here is: Yes, we all do know how to fix your computers. Yes, we can do it fast, efficient and (sometimes) without anybody even noticing there had been a glitch in the first place. But, although it might look like we're just pushing a few keys and it only takes an hour to resolve what has been a mess for weeks and given you nightmares for countless nights that doesn't mean we should be credited with the same amount a "barista" (I just love them rebranding the term "mindless worker drone" into something sounding so fashionable. Kudos!) at Starbucks gets for producing about 5 frappocinowhateverthefucklattes an hour.
When we sit in front of a computer screen we do our work. And its conscious work. And its honest work. And it might not be obvious to you. Because in about 99% of cases we work on WHAT YOU FUCKING SEE IS NOT WHAT YOU FUCKING GET (WYFSINWYFG!)! And if you're not comfortable with that then GO HUMP A RHINO or LEARN TO DO IT YOUR FUCKING SELF. And if you think you can get the same quality value at a lower price from someone somewhere else at some time .. your are mistaken. Because, as with all businesses, the cheaper they are the lower their quality value is in the end. Plus, I get to tell you I FUCKING TOLD YOU SO (and I can really make it hurt. Seriously.).
So, the next time you reach out to someone with, to you, exuberantly skillful geeky computer hands to fix a problem you couldn't get around to fixing yourself .. remember what he had to put up with in order to get to the point where his hands are actually as geeky, skillful and qualified enough to handle whatever problem you throw at him.
Of course, don't be stupid. Check his references, maybe even talk to some of his former employers to find out if he's the right match for you, your company and your problem or position. Even contracting the best specialist at hand might not be the right choice in case it turns out he doesn't quite fit in.
Don't go for degrees. Degrees, in this rapidly accelerating, computerized economy, have the same face value as a blank sheet of paper. Instead, try googling your future employee. If he has been working with computers before and, supposedly, is the expert he claims to be chances are Google has thousands of citations, code snippets and other information that lead to an informed decision about whether or not to bargain with him.
Oh, and, keep in mind the next time I work for you: You called me. You wanted me to fix something you couldn't fix by yourself. It might be blatantly easy for me. It wasn't for you. Otherwise I wouldn't be sitting in front of YOUR computer but in front of my own. And me being able to do what I do has cost me countless hours, days, weeks and years of life and still will for a long time.
And you better be fucking paying up for it. Thank you very much.