This week and next I have to take some time off work because my son’s daycare is closed due to covid exposure. I could write about my anxiety as a parent of a too-young-to-be-vaccinated toddler during a pandemic, but that seems a bit heavy. Instead, I want to focus on what time off work has made me realize: I am replaceable.
I mean, everyone’s replaceable at their jobs, to some extent. Everyone’s also a special snowflake and whathaveyou, but there are billions of people in the world, so every job could be done by SOMEone else. But I will admit it was a bit disheartening when I put together coverage notes for my coworkers to take over my responsibilities, and the main things were of the “you’ll need to send this email for me” variety. When describing my job, I often joke that most of what I do is “shuffling emails around,” but that joke became a bit too real.
I’m not totally depressed about my value as an employee. I do contribute some specific skills to my team. Why just the other day, a couple colleagues spent about an hour trying to figure out whether some problem was human error or a software bug. And I swooped in to point out that they were looking at the wrong page. (That’s an oversimplification. They’re quite smart and capable. But also, they overlooked that a specific page number was provided.)
My primary motivation for getting a CS degree was to widen my pool of potential employment. And not just for a wider variety of jobs, but for a job that would make me feel like I was “creating” something. So even if I end up writing some software that a million other programmers could have written, at least I wrote it. But now that I think about it, I guess the same could be said about my emails…