Posted in Stories

Nature Versus Coding

Day 7 of the ‘Post A Day 2011′ challenge:

Share a story about a memorable job interview.

Back in 1984 my friend Suzan and me, both freshly graduated, went on holiday together to the Indonesian island Java. Six weeks of freedom, very friendly people, breathtaking nature, impressive buildings, mysticism, delicious food, back-to-basic transportation (did you know fleas also travel by train?), rides on the back of a motor bike, trips in a pick-up truck. And heat. Six weeks filled with laughter, adventures, challenges, respect and awe, plus loads of the best friendship one can ever have. Needless to say I didn’t want to return to the cold and bleak flat Netherlands. But by then the money was gone and our plane was waiting.

Back home, I was ready to participate in the mysterious working society. Still in love with the magnificent archipelago, I decided to apply for a job with the Word Wildlife Fund in Indonesia. Anything to get back there. To my dismay they didn’t need my ‘awesome’ bachelor knowledge of Tourism and Recreation. Letters went back and forth, but it was no use. This dutchess would not get the chance to help developing nature-friendly tourism in Indonesia. I was devastated.

So there I was: study finished and no job. I was renting a small room in a student house – twelve square meters – and soon was climbing the walls. Several letters of application were sent out to recreational companies, but with no positive results. After three weeks I was fed up with it all and walked into an agency for temporary jobs on a dark Thursday afternoon.

So tell us, what university did you go to? Aha, interesting, tourism and recreation, hmmm. Can you type? Splendid! We are looking for a coder, you think you can manage that? Ah you coded your own thesis? Good good. Alright, we’ll stay in touch, good day.

Before I knew it, I was standing outside again, wondering what would come of it. The day after I got a message that I was to start working for a social insurance company on Monday.


Then doubts bloomed into existence. Coding, did I say I could code? Of course I had messed around with Pascal programming, but never really knew exactly what I was doing. Fellow students had helped me out with the coding aspects of my thesis – a thesis devoted to a Dutch safari park called Beekse Bergen, where I spent a magical time. But that’s another story. So what if the coding would be too complicated? That weekend was hell, I was so nervous I could neither eat nor sleep. Then finally the clock ticked its way towards Monday morning.

A fifteen minute bike trip took me to the office, which was situated in the center of town. I was escorted to my desk and got my ‘coding instructions’. Within seconds I was biting my cheek hard, trying to stem my bubbles of laughter. CODING? This wasn’t coding, this was child’s play! They gave me piles of forms and I had to write down the first two letters of the applicant’s last name plus the six digits of his/her date of birth. That was the coding I had to do! O yes, I also had to alphabetize them. By the end of the week nightmares about coding were trying to eliminate my dreams of nature.

Since then I’ve come a long way in working land. Currently I have a job at a university as information manager and elearning coach. So much better than coding! But my dreams of nature will stay forever. As will my friendship with Suzan.


Caretaker of lads and cats. No lady, but all woman. RPGamer. Avid reader. Writing my first book, squeezing in time during busy days. And nights if needed. Because I'd love to introduce you to the wonderful people who are living in my mind.

3 thoughts on “Nature Versus Coding

  1. Did not know you were such a splendid coder! Did you really want to work in Indonesia? That is on top of the ring of fire? earthquakes, tsunamis…but oh my God so beautiful!


    1. Indonesia has stolen a piece of my heart back then. Life is so different, and nature is simply breathtaking. It’s over 26 years ago, but when I close my eyes, I can still imagine I’m there. On top of the Bromo. Traveling the moon-like surroundings by pony. In Yogyakarta…
      Aye, I would love to work there Nancy.


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