On How Stephanie Harper Changed Her Life (And Why You Should Know about Her)
It’s hard at the beginning. You are 36 and starting from scratch. There were certainly other things you could be doing, but there you are, on a cool August morning willing to face a new adventure in the world of software.
It all starts easily. Why do you want to study political science? Because you are a seventeen year old adolescent who wants to change the world, of course. Years go by and the world continues to be the same (maybe your call was not to change it after all, but you never know). You are not working doing research, nor writing historical sagas. You are certainly not advising any political masterminds, nor determining the outcomes of the lives of your fellow countrymen/women. You are working in international commerce and logistics. Of course, you now know the harmonized code (you do not want to know anything about it, promise) by heart. You know about the Darwinion catalog of vascular plants for the Southern Cone. You even know that the Eucalyptus Saligna is not present there, so no problems will arise when trying to export those wooden hammers to India. You know that 1360 PC cases would fill a 40HQ container the same as 2840 monitors. You don’t even know why you know it, but you do. You learn about plugs. There is something I need to say about plugs. I don’t know if this is the right place to talk about this, but plugs are definitely an evil invention. Each area in the world has its own electrical plug, its own current, its own power tension. Argentina shares the type I plug with Australia & NZ, with a small variation of course. The neutral is slightly thicker. As you might imagine, my nightmares include opening a container filled with 2840 Monitors after a 35 day trip across the oceans that have plugs with the wrong-sized neutral pin.
But enough about plugs.
You have been working in international commerce and logistics for a long time. The problem with this is that now you have experience, now you know about the Harmonized code and the secret to fit all those monitors into one container. And the problem with experience is that you are stuck. The only thing that you get to do is… keep on filling containers and fighting with plugs. You read about path dependence once and felt that it influenced most of your life. The moment you become an expert in one subject, you are unqualified to do anything else. And so the years go by and you focus more on learning about new types of plugs, new models of monitors, and push a reset button every day.
But then there is Stephanie Harper, the fictional star of the miniseries Return to Eden. You must have seen it. It was a big hit in 1983 and was rerun over and over and over in the years to come. Stephanie reinvents herself as a model in Sydney as she returns from… being eaten by crocodiles.
So even though you are 36, you are not dead (after all, Stephanie was pushing 40 when the show started). Then, on that August day, I went into the office, into my new job at Avature, willing to learn everything all over. And life became even stranger after that. It’s true that there’s a steep learning curve, that now I’m working with people ten years younger than myself… but does it matter? You cry, you laugh, you ride your bike across town while smiling at drivers stuck in traffic jams, you bust your a** (can I say that in this official blog?) working, you drink after hour beers, you make friends, you make enemies (they must be there), you play mixed-football, you meet great people and not so great people… You make friends as strange as you, who would watch a marathon of Return to Eden just to make you happy. All those things that make life worth living. And even though there are rough days, you thank that you’re not worried about those plugs that tormented your past anymore.
But well, this is not the strangest part at all. My boss came up to me with a mission some months after I started working there. He asked me to move to Australia. Imagine, the land of Stephanie Harper and her alter ego Tara Wells! So here I am. And the best part is that all that knowledge I had on the Eucalyptus Saligna and the Type I plug now comes really handy.
Now, I know my story does not include any evil crocs trying to drag me into the swamp, nor will I become a 40 year old model like Tara, but so far this has certainly been an interesting ride.