December 10, 2010

'Tis the Season for Pair Programming

There are few things that disturb a pair programing environment more than futzing with your nose. Chewing on pens or a lanyard or one's own fingers is not cool, but runs a distant second to nose fiddling.

Luckily, 'tis the season in which many offices have so called "holiday parties". What's this have to do with pairing ettiquite? Gift exchanges. That's right. Office parties often involve Secret Santas or White Elephant / Dirty Santa gift exchanges. What a great opportunity to make a few improvements to your agile environment! Few pair programming teams have the guts to directly confront issues of social graces. So, why not conspire with others to make sure that "special someone" has lots of opportunity to draw the perfect gift, and then get stuck with it?

So here are my ideas, your shopping list, for things to gift your pair to help keep his hands away from his face.
These are truly gifts for the whole team. No, really. These are gifts the whole team should go out and purchase.
  • Tissues. Tissues are more than a subtle hit. Hopefully they'll be used. Disinfectant wipes are almost in this category, though they do more to counteract the behavior than to correct it.
  • Decongestant. I rub my nose a lot more when it's stuffy. That may be why your pair does it.
  • Allergy medicine. Itchy eyes, itchy nose; He's gonna rub 'em.
  • Fingernail clippers. What better gift than a manicure kit for one who chews his fingers? Well, here's one...
  • A gift certificate to The Boardroom Salon for Men. If you don't live in Texas, there's bound to be something similar in your own town. Just... not as big... or as manly.
  • Hand sanitizer. Not only is it good for rubbing on your hands, it's also something that's uncomfortable when rubbed in the nose. It's kind of like using pepper to keep a toddler from sucking her thumb.
  • Gum. Altoids. Mints. Jolly Ranchers. A variety is a must. These have the added bonus of attacking bad breath. This is also the one suggestion that can keep your lanyard and pen eating pair on a more healthy diet. (Surely, sugar is a more healthy diet than a piece of plastic.) These items may also give the incessant talker something else to do with their mouth.
  • A nose hair trimmer.
Some Essential Items

That's right. A nose hair trimmer. This is an essential item, right up there with dental floss and a tooth brush. Every man should have one. I think men mess with their noses more than women and I'm convinced the problem is nose hair. Notice mine in the photo. (Referring to my trimmer.) The buttons are worn off. Pssst. That's a clue for anyone working on that last minute gift idea for me.

White Elephant exchanges are supposed to be unusual and humorous.These gifts would certainly be unusual. I would find them humorous, and taken in the spirit of the event, I'm sure you will too. Most importantly, the team would find this beneficial. Guaranteed to increase your velocity 10 percent. What else can promise that? If most of your team will stick with this list, some good is bound to come of it.

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