last night a guy from church called me up with a programming question. he asked me if i could come over and help him out, and i refused–i was exhausted from our out of town excursion. as soon as i hung up the phone, i started this argument with my conscience:

conscience: you really should help him, john.
me: listen, i can’t say ‘yes’ to every request that comes my way.
conscience: you’re a total jerk, john–think about jim, who spent 90 minutes of his own time, without compensation, teaching you and a couple of other guys to play the bagpipes today.
me: don’t give me that guilt trip, man–i told him i’d help him out tomorrow.
conscience: you know that mike is a programmer and wouldn’t call you up unless he was really banging his head against a wall. you’ve been there, and other people have dropped what they were doing to help you out.
me(whining): but i’m tired. i just got back from a long trip, and it’s late…
conscience: think about your heroes, john. you think gandhi, the dalai lama or mother theresa would turned down a cry for help in the middle of the night?
me: but they weren’t programmers…oh, all right. (sigh.)
conscience: good job, john. and sorry about calling you a jerk, and all that.

in the end, the emotion that got me over to his house was anger. i called, and called, and let it ring like 20 times, but no one picked up. they needed an answering machine, and i was going to give them a piece of my mind. really, who doesn’t have an answering machine nowadays? it was totally inconsiderate to people who have to call and call until they can finally get a hold of you. but when i got there, mike looked pretty worn out, and we immediately set to work debugging the code and figuring out the microsoft excel vba syntax.the bottom line: a little less sleep for me, a little more peace of mind for mike, and the warm fuzzies you get from helping someone out and and a clearer conscience from paying forward the help that programmers in the past have given to me. i wish that all my little debates ended on this happy note, that my conscience always got the better of me–but score one for the good guys this time.john remy, out to save the world, one line of code at a time::

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