NullPointerException – an excellent team-builder.

I was recently asked to describe my favorite class in the JDK and why. Yes, this is what my friends and I discuss when we have finished pondering why Jessica Alba named her baby Honor Marie or if Paris Hilton is really preggars or just trying to pull a fast one on us. Yes, we go straight from “People” magazine to computer programming.

To be honest I had never been asked this before. I could quickly rattle off my favorite food (cranberry orange mango bagel), favorite color (pink) or favorite animal (dog) but as for the JDK – the answer was just not that straightforward. I mean there are so many great classes to choose from – where did I possibly begin? (Hmm. Perhaps I’ll just spend a crazy Friday night watching 20/20 and pondering just this)

I first thought about carrying on about how something as simple as java.lang.Object had changed my life – transitioning me from a mere employee at a large IT company to a mere employee at a slightly larger IT company. But I thought that would be too easy, so I decided to dig deeper.  I started to remember what really gave me trouble as a beginning programmer – the class that I just couldn’t get my head around. My “vicarious”, as it were. (The word I couldn’t remember the definition for when studying for the SAT and now use all the time!)  But it had been too long and I couldn’t remember one. But then it hit me. I knew exactly where to go with this, the NullPointerException!

I know it is a shocker but the NullPointerException (as well as all RuntimeExceptions) are near and dear to my heart – mostly because I am very familiar with them. I believe I come across a NullPointer just about everyday working with IBM Software (generally displayed to the end user as simply, “null”), But anyway, what better way to make friends with your coworkers, or bond with customers then by staying up for several nights in a row troubleshooting a product deficiency, known as engaging in a “crit-sit”. Some of my “top five” favorite IBMers I have met doing just this, talking about life while waiting for the server to restart. And hey, it’s also the only time that IBM brings in free food – the good stuff too, like pizza and oranges (I have never understood why we seem to always get oranges!).

Anyway, I have a fondness for a lot of classes in java but for most you “code alone”. With a “NullPointerException” you are part of something much bigger than yourself; you are part of a team.