A fixer is a person who carries out assignments for someone else or who is good at solving problems for others. The term has different meanings in different contexts. In British usage, the term is neutral, meaning “the sort of person who solves problems and gets things done.” —Wikipedia
To my way of thinking, there are only two kinds of people: fixers and everyone else. When something breaks, fixers want to fix it and everyone else wants to buy a new one.
That is, of course, an oversimplification since the fixer class includes people who want to fix other people and we can’t just go and buy a new person—although, I’m sure some people wish they could. Furthermore, since fixing other people is well above my paid grade, I am only pondering about fixing stuff.
To no one’s surprise, I think of myself as a fixer. It’s actually a knee-jerk reaction for me to want to fix something. Even if it’s not my problem, not important, or I don’t have time, I still can’t help launching into fixing mode—even if only in my head. I never knew how bad this was until Holly pointed out that many times, when she tells me something is broken, I immediately launch into fixing something that she never intended to be fixed.
One of the key differences between fixing people and fixing stuff is that one of the best ways to fix stuff is to actually break it in order to understand it. Breaking people in order to understand their problem seems a bit radical. But with fixing stuff, I have found that you can’t be afraid of breaking it. Worst case, you simply buy another one and try again.
Being an engineer, I am steeped in the importance of understanding the root of the problem and not just going the trial and error route. Trial and error is prone to discovering a quick fix that seems to solve the problem, only to have the underlying problem rise again under different circumstances.
Solid fixes of computer problems require a solid understanding. So, I frequently find myself not fully understanding the problem and annoying people when they ask how it’s going. My usual answer is, “I don’t know.”
I firmly believe that I can fix anything, given enough time. And there’s the rub. How much time? I don’t know. Oops! That answer is so annoying.
Speaking of annoying! I find that in spite of all that I have just said, having to constantly fix stuff is really annoying. Why can’t the engineers who design our stuff make things that simply work… all the time?
Have I mentioned that the people who want me to fix stuff can be equally annoying? I’d have a million dollars in the bank if I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, “My computer’s not working.” Geez. Please, what about your computer is not working? Give me some details. I can’t just devine what your computer is not doing for you.
Alas, I am stuck with who I am. As much as I can be annoying and annoyed, I receive immense satisfaction from understanding tech problems and fixing them forever.