Daydreaming About Quitting Your Desk Job: What’s Your Plan B?

Another day at work. Flickr user philandpam, CC BY 2.0
Another day at work. Photo: Flickr user philandpam, CC BY 2.0.

My husband and I met in the Computer Science department in grad school. I was working on my master’s degree, him his PhD. When things got rough, we daydreamed of a more simple life. We’d buy a ranch somewhere quiet and raise alpacas. We started calling this daydream our plan B: What we’d do if this whole “technology” thing didn’t work out.

In our plan B, we’d work outdoors all day, with the sun warming our skins and our lungs full of fresh air. Our bodies would be active, and our brains free to ponder the meaning of life. We would certainly not be stuck in a poorly-lit, air-conditioned computer lab all day (and most nights), trying to find a particularly well-hidden bug or meet a short deadline.

Our grad school days are long gone, but as two employed programmers, our lives are not much different than they used to be as Computer Science students. We’re still stuck indoors. We’re still dealing with bugs and deadlines. Don’t get me wrong, we love what we do… most of the time. But every once in a while, when one of us has a really bad day, it’s comforting to know we can come home and laugh about being ready to switch to plan B.

I always thought my husband and I were just weirdos with strange ideas, but one day I brought it up at work when my team was facing some difficult problems. I joked that we should just give up and start an alpaca ranch. To my surprise, they didn’t think it was crazy. In fact, they already had plan Bs of their own. One of my coworkers said he always daydreamed of being a garbage truck driver, one a farmer, the last a barber. The common thread was obvious; we all had a romanticized blue-collar escape from our white-collar reality.

Of course, the grass is always greener on the other side. But it’s always nice to dream.

What about you, do you have a plan B?

Ariane is a programmer married to another programmer. Together they have two little girls who don't stand a chance against their nerdy lineage. Ariane can also be found illustrating for Intelligently Adorable.