There’s a large group of people that mean a lot to me. Some of them I know well, and others I only know peripherally through their relationships with those with whom I am more familiar. Some of them I like a lot, but with others I rarely see eye-to-eye. Many of them I consider to be friends, and a few I would say are close friends, reliable confidantes that I’d trust with my car, my ATM card, my secrets. Most of these people are not geographically close to me, but we make it a point to see each other at least a couple of times per year.
Were it not for the title of this post, you might assume that I’m talking about extended family. But in this case, I’m describing a group of people who are, at times, as close as my own genetics-and-marriage family. This it the SQL community, affectionately known as SQL Family (or #sqlfamily, for you Twitter-er-er-ers).
But what is SQL Family, really? Just a group of people who do a similar job and tolerate each other at conferences? A band of partygoers whose only commonality is an affection for Jaeger bombs and bacon? A strange clique that prevents outsiders from coming in? I’d submit to you that it’s none of these things. Tom LaRock has challenged everyone in the most recent Internet meme to define the following:
What SQL Family means to me:
SQL Family is needing 30 minutes to walk the 150 yards from the hotel entrance to the elevators because I keep bumping into people that I know. It’s knowing that I’ll never ride the escalator without passing a few friends going the other way. It’s the assurance that I’ll never again be that guy in the hotel room at 9pm wishing I was still engaged in the event.
SQL Family is conversing with Bill Graziano and watching him write down what you say in his little notebook. It’s chatting with Joe Webb and knowing that you have his absolute undivided attention. It’s sharing an idea with Andy Leonard and hearing him tell you why it’s a great idea (or why it might not work, but very gently). It’s meeting up with Lori Edwards and feeding off of her passion for community. It’s asking Kevin Kline for his opinion on, well, anything, and getting a very intelligent and insightful reply.
SQL Family is putting a request for help on the wire to #sqlhelp, and immediately getting dozens of replies, direct messages, and code samples from other Family members. It’s an open sharing of ideas without fear of IP theft or plagiarism. It’s an openness to ask any question without getting smacked down. It’s being able to ask questions about DBCC from Paul Randal, the guy who friggin’ wrote DBCC.
SQL Family is meeting people you’ve “known” for years. It’s learning the real names of people you know only by Twitter handle. It’s sending out a Tweet that you’re arriving in town (almost any town) and getting replies like “How long are you here? Want to meet up?”
SQL Family is the encouragement you get when you present at the PASS Summit for the very first time. It’s 100 people telling you that you’re session is going to be great, and the same 100 people asking afterward how it went. It’s looking out into the audience and seeing not a room full of strangers, but more than just a few friendly faces. It’s a willing presenter on standby ready to fill in at the last minute to avoid an empty slot in the schedule. It’s knowing that someone will loan you their laptop in case yours dies right before your presentation.
SQL Family is getting your picture taken by Pat Wright. It’s a friendly hug from Karla Landrum, and huge bear hugs from both Jes Borland and Erin Stellato. It’s getting to know the (sometimes) non-techie spouses of our SQL Family members. It’s an open invitation to split hotel rooms and travel costs to reduce the cost of attending Family functions. It’s being welcomed into the homes of other Family members.
SQL Family is a line of people cheering on fellow runners as one of their own completes a lengthy run. It’s encouragement and kind words as one of our own battles a serious health issue. It’s sincere condolences when one of us loses a close family member, and hearty congratulations when one of us brings into the world a member of the next generation of the SQL Family.
SQL Family is circling the wagons when one of our own is threatened or treated inappropriately. It’s opening our arms to welcome in new members.
SQL Family is having the ability to disagree or even argue, knowing that, at the end of the day, we’re still a SQL Family.