Do Developers Ever Get A Real Vacation?

The ever-present cell phone/laptop has essentially vanquished the now quaint idea of a developer going on vacation.
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Is there anything better than lying on the beach, shades on, with an icy drink, listening to the waves crash and kids playing in the surf?  The smell of salty sea air does something special to the mind. The sea air clears it of all the junk that piles up in the brain during every working day.  Nothing is more refreshing.

Ahhhhh.   Being on vacation can be so wonderfully relaxing and blissful.

Then the phone in the beach bag starts blaring. That ringtone that can only mean one thing.   Someone from work needs something and in their opinion (not necessarily my opinion) they need it right now

All I can think is “Damn it!”

So why wasn’t the phone left in the hotel room?   And why is the beautiful lady laying next to me shooting daggers at me?

“I told you to leave it in the room.”

I just sigh, and dig out the blasted contraption (that I can’t seem to part ways with).  Sure enough, it’s my boss. 

I reluctantly answer. “Hey Stan, what’s up?”

“Hey buddy.  So sorry to bother you.”

Not as sorry as me.

“The reports for the Finance Department are all wrong this morning and we have tracked the problem to some confusing logic in your code.  Do you have a minute?”


“Sure. Not a problem.”

In talking with Stan, I realize that the easiest way to resolve this is to get online and look at the reports and walk through my logic. 

As I end the call and stand up, I take one last look around at the idyllic scenery – including the gal next to me.

“Sweets, I have to go back to the room and fire up my laptop.  Shouldn’t take more than an hour.”

I’m sure she is rolling her eyes behind her sunglasses as she lets out an exasperated sigh, rolls onto her stomach and buries her gorgeous self back into a trashy romance novel. 

I trudge up the beach, clean the sand off my feet with the outside hose and head up to the hotel room – all the while running snippets of code through my head trying to envision where the problem might be.

The one question that doesn’t occur to me at that moment: what kind of vacation is it if you can’t truly disconnect from your job?  Maybe it is more realistic for other professions to completely unplug, but is it realistic for a software developer to actually take a true vacation?

I recently had a boss scold me for checking email while on vacation and it was quite refreshing.  But I’m not writing code anymore.  I actually think it is easier for a manager to go on vacation, because the developers back at the ranch can fix any problem that arises – especially if they are empowered to do so.  

The pressure for a developer to stay connected while on vacation seems more intense.  If something goes wrong that might be related to their code, it is so very easy for their manager or teammates to pick up the phone, send a text message or email.  This is because they know that developers have their phone with them at all times. 

It’s a techie gadget thing. 

Today’s cell phone isn’t just a phone to a developer. It’s a high-powered device that is also a status indicator in the world of software development – the cooler, newer, more powerful a developer’s phone is, the more they want to show it off wherever they go.  These days, a developer’s phone may even be integrated in their tablet, like an iPad.  So in many cases it’s also an entertainment device ­­­-- which of course would be brought on vacation.

But that shouldn’t matter.  If a person wants to keep their phone close by, does that mean they must respond to calls for help from their workmates? 

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Tags: developer, developer salary

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