Roscoe and I were sitting around the pot-bellied stove, chewing the fat on a rainy Saturday. He had been working with a group of software engineers for about six months, and I was surprised that there had been no events significant enough to register on the Richter scale. Given that Roscoe is about as volatile as Vesuvius in August, I figured that something was up.
"Roscoe," I ventured, "how is it that you haven't run off half that crew you inherited a while back?"
"Why should I do that?" he responded. "Buncha good hands, I'd say. Course, you gotta know how to talk with 'em."
"Oh, really," I replied. "What's the big deal? What makes talking to software engineers so special?"
"Wrong already, son. You don't talk to engineers; you talk with them. Starting off by talking to them can quickly degenerate into talking at them, and you're bound to get into trouble."
Darn! Nailed so soon, and I hadn't even gotten started. But the man had a point.
"OK, Roscoe, I get it. But really, is talking with engineers, and especially software engineers, any different from talking with other people? If so, I'd really like to understand what the secret is."