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I don't understand the 9-to-5

Note: This article was originally published at Planet PHP on 11 February 2011.
Planet PHP

No, this isn't another post about taking that step out of the corporate world's 9-to-5 routine and venturing out on your own. (Though that would make for an interesting future post). This post is more of me asking a question of the development community - PHP or otherwise - to help clear up something in my mind. Let me set the stagea

I've been developing PHP fora.well, let's just say a long time now and in that time I've come to appreciate the quirks of the language and have had a real hunger to find out more about it. It's a constant friend in my day to day life. I have multple side projects going that use it (PHPDeveloper.org and Joind.in), so PHP is a huge part of my life. Along with this comes the community, a constant stream of new information and people I can sincerely call friends even though we've only met a handful of times. It's the language that brings us together.

Now, back on my wheel again - what I don't understand is this completely foreign concept of people that just do this as a 9-to-5 job. They come and sit at their workstation and write their code then, at the end of the day, they switch it off and go do something else. I see them writing their code (yes, some of it's pretty bad) and I wonder how they can't have that drive to constantly better themselves by doing more than just pushing buttons and earning a paycheck.

So, dear internets, if you could help me out on this - I'd really like to understand the mindset of these folks. I don't know if I've ever been in their shoes and I'd really like a glimpse inside their heads.

Some comments from IRC and Twitter so far:

  • jbafford: they're people who think they can make good money programming, as opposed to, people who program to solve problems
  • pierrejoye: usually having other time consuming activities don't allow one to do more. The few doing nothing but 9-5 are social cases