Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Back in my day...

...we didn't HAVE this "interweb" doohicky. I used to connect to local BBSs using a 1200 baud external modem on my Apple IIc, both ways. Uphill!

A "BBS", in case you've never heard of it, is a Bulletin Board Service (or "System". I can't remember. I'm OLD! Leave me alone.) Back in those days only the more expensive ones offered anything close to a chat room from what I can recall, and you had to purchase credits that were burned off while you were connected. There were some free systems that you could connect to, like the library. But you had to have the phone numbers. It was a chaotic, but simpler time.

One of the services I subscribed to was called Electric Dreams. One day while in a chat room I saw this guy by the name of El Guano. Or El Guappo. Something like that. Anyhow, "El" was bragging to the ladies about his graphic designing gig. I had been going to school for a degree in graphic design and I was curious how he went about getting a job actually in the field here in Colorado Springs. So I messaged him, asking for the details, and he brushed me off. He was only there for the chicas, and didn't have the time nor interest to "talk shop."

Now, the only reason this rude person sticks in my mind after all this time is a few years later I ran into him again. In person.

I had taken a job as a compositor at the local newspaper as a foot in the door to something better (hah.) I didn't get the graphic designer degree due to stupid "rules" about attendance mattering more than GPA at the school I was commuting to in Denver (a whole other story), so I took what I could get.

After a couple months I had the job down cold (the time I cut my thumb tip off was a fluke) and was looking with longing eyes towards getting a position in the actual art department. Well, okay, not the "actual" art department. That was upstairs in the newsroom area. I was willing to settle (hah) for a position in the advertising art department. There weren't any opening though, so I pressed on where I was.

I'm not sure what brought "El" to my attention. I'm pretty sure it was someone else in the compositing department complaining about how rude he was. I asked who he was and the woman (odds are it was a woman) said something like, "Oh, he's one of those "artists" in the ad art department. His name is Derek Knight. He's also a DJ for the oldies station. I hate him." Or something similar.

When I got home after my shift (I worked nights for freaking EVER) I mentioned him to my (now, not then) ex because she liked listening to the oldies station and I thought she might have heard of him. She said, "That's El Guappo! Remember, the guy on Electric Dreams that wouldn't talk to you because you weren't a chick?" (okay, again, I'm probably not remembering verbatim. I'm more of a gestalt guy.)

So, the next night when I had some free time I dropped by the ad art department and looked him over. Huh. Okay. So I asked him if he had ever been on Electric Dreams. He got a strange look on his face like, "Who the fuck IS this?" But he admitted that he had been there as "El". I told him that I was on there as Spectre and we had some laughs about the people we knew from there.

Eventually, I did wind up in the ad art department and we worked together for a few years. Then he left the Gazette. Then a few months later he called me and talked me into applying at Graham. I hated the Gazette with a passion so I said sure, why not. It took two interviews to get hired (the first time Sarah thought I was lying about my speed, and it took Derek a whole lot of pestering to convince her to give me another chance.) And here we are, four more years later, still around each other.

The moral of the story? The only one I can think of is this: Life is fucking weird at times. And El Guappo digs the chicks.

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