Back in 1996, my girlfriend and I moved to Albany, Oregon for about a year. I hadn’t discovered internets yet, so my primary nerd hangout was still BBSes. (Computers that nerds set up in their homes for other nerds to call in to.) After arriving in Albany, I immediately started calling up local BBSes and hanging out on them, posting messages, playing games, etc. One BBS, called Different World, had an odd theme to it. The theme was 7-Eleven. The guy that ran it seemed to work there, since there were references to a particular 7-Eleven in Albany.
A year or two back, I’d written a text file explaining ways of pissing off 7-Eleven employees for the PLA zine (You can view it here.) and I thought the sysop (his name was Kevin) might enjoy it. After all, I wrote it mostly while working in a 7-Eleven in and it started out as a list of things customers did to piss me off. Then I started writing about things customers could do to piss me off. Then I just started making up crazy stuff near the end. So I uploaded the text file to Kevin’s BBS. He didn’t like it. In fact, he deleted my account on the BBS and he called the police. He took the text file as a personal threat against him. I think it was a few days later that the police called me to ask me about it. They told me to leave Kevin alone and as far as I can remember, I did.
Soon after that we started getting hang up calls at our house. Usually just one a day. Sometimes I would answer and sometimes Colleen. They always hung up. At first we ignored it, but it kept happening every day, so we checked the caller ID and it was a local number. I tried calling it back, but didn’t get an answer. I don’t think our caller ID box displayed the name of the caller, so I called up the phone company and got them to tell me the name belonging to that number. It was Kevin! It’d been a week or two since the BBS thing happened and I wasn’t bothering him, but for some reason he was calling up my house every day.
So this was bizarre. We didn’t know why Kevin would be doing this. It turned out that he was married, so it might have been his wife and not him. He later claimed that he’d never called our house before, so it could have been her too. This was back in PLA’s prime, and I loved bizarre phone-related drama like this, so I was excited to find out that these hang up calls were an attempt to harass me since that gave me a great reason to retaliate. Later that evening, I gave Kevin a call and talked to him. I dialed him after diverting through AT&T, using a stolen credit card number so he wouldn’t get my caller ID. I don’t remember what all we said, but I remember lots of disagreeing happening. He denied the hangup calls and so did his wife. And he actually asked how I could be calling from a local number and not have my number show up on his caller ID display.
Originally I figured he hadn’t even heard of caller ID (it was sort of new at the time) and that’s why they wouldn’t bother blocking their number when they called. But he clearly knew what it was. We theorized that maybe they were hoping to get us to call them back a lot so they could *57 (trace) us and get us in trouble with the police. That’s probably a stupid theory, but who knows what these people were thinking.
I honestly don’t remember what all I did to Kevin and his wife since it all happened 14 years ago. I do remember one afternoon, I was sitting out on the porch and a couple of girls came up the sidewalk and asked if I was Alex. I said yeah and one of them told me she was Kevin’s wife and wanted to know what my problem was. I don’t remember exactly how that conversation went either, but they left peacefully. Whatever I was doing to them caused her to come and visit me in person, though, so that’s saying something about the effectiveness of my harassment.
Another time I was working at Target and Kevin’s wife happened to come into my checkout lane. I didn’t recognize her until she wrote and check and I read the name on the check. I said hi and we chatted for a minute and were friendly to each other. Then after she walked away, I wrote down all the personal information from her check, figuring I could do something horrible with it. I never got around to it though. (I’m not just saying that to protect the guilty, I really didn’t!)
I’m sure I must have been harassing them in some way throughout our stay in Albany, though, because I remember that during the time of our trip from Oregon to Ohio, they flooded my homepage’s guestbook a lot. Also Kevin’s wife called me in Ohio once and yelled at me for something. I’m sure it all ended soon after that, though, because I haven’t thought about either of them at all since we left Ohio. Whatever, details are sketchy.
This brings me up to the reason I’m writing this. This morning on Facebook, my feed tells me that my friend Jessica and Kevin are now Facebook friends. I wonder if it could possibly be the Kevin I once knew. So I clicked on his profile and sure enough it’s him. In fact, I’m surprised to see that he’s still working at 7-Eleven – the one just a couple of blocks from my house that I go to just about every day. Jessica told me that she worked with Kevin and his wife briefly at an Albany event. So I LOL’ed a lot as I told her my story of Kevin.
After looking at the photos on Kevin’s Facebook page, I realized that I’d actually seen him a few times there and he even rang me up once a few months ago. He kept screwing up on the register and apologizing to me, saying he wasn’t used to being on the register these days. I smiled and said it was no problem, that I wasn’t in a hurry. I wonder now if I was wearing a PLA shirt that day. That was my first time ever meeting Kevin, so I doubt he recognized me. I’ll have to say hi to him next time I see him and maybe we can reminesce together.
And here’s where it all comes full circle. Last year Spessa and I had the great idea of turning that old issue of PLA into a video by actually performing the things on the list that pissed off Kevin so much. So we did, and one of the items were done in Kevin’s store. Not by me, but by Mr. Spessa. (I’m only mentioning this so that when Kevin reads this, he’ll be less likely to try and ban me from the premises.) So it’s possible that Kevin actually had to mop up after our shenanigans. Sorry, Kevin
I’m going to pretend that each day Kevin goes to work and sees the new Red Box machine on the sidewalk and it reminds him of his old nemesis RedBoxChiliPepper.