1982 Ideal Computers

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101 S Schuyler Avenue
Kankakee, Illinois 60901

101 S Schuyler Ave • Kankakee, Illinois 60901 - while going to School in Kankakee, I walked a couple miles away to the local computer store. I walked in, and just pretended I worked there, and was helping people with sales and support until I found the manager. Since I'd already helped sell a computer, he hired me.


My roommate at college and I had a deal... he got to drive my car during the summer in California, and I got to drive his during the winter in Illinois (and didn't have to bring my car out, which I'd sold). Well, for whatever reason, after the summer, and Joel had blown up the engine in my little Toyota Cellica (near the end of the summer), we got back to Illinois and the agreement wasn't quite as Iron clad as I thought. I'm not sure what the quirk was, it didn't seem to be about anything specific like not putting gas in it, etc., and Joel wasn't driving it or needing it as we had everything we needed on campus. (I think it had something to do with me getting the job, and he didn't? We'd both gone together and both wanted a job, but I had been the more outgoing and had helped customers before I was even hired. But I was never sure if that was the cause. And other than some annoyance (and self-righteous indignation at a broken promise), I never cared that much. But I couldn't use his car as a commuter vehicle, only special trips or occasions... if i genuflected, would I get the keys. Which is part of the reason that when I left school later that school year, I never kept in touch. We emailed a couple decades later. Even if I was painful to deal with at times, I was still a bit bitter about someone breaking a promise (one of my sore spots with my Family), stranding me, and not being willing to explain why.

The Computer store (and my part time job) was a couple miles away and not along a bus route. So I walked. This wasn't a big deal in Sept - Nov, but then around December, I learned what Chicago Winters get their reputation from. One day while walking to work, I discovered freezing rain. It was hitting me and turning me into an ice-robot, crunching and breaking off pieces as I walked. At first it was fun and interesting, but after a few blocks, not so much. I veered into a Hardy's (the half-way point between School and Work), and was beating off the ice when I a rubbed my face, and broke off half my teenage wispy mustache.

I heard snap and saw a hairy icicle fall down, and thought, "That's weird"... then as feeling was coming back to my fingers and face, I realized that the right half of my mustache was gone (the tarantula icicle), but the left half was intact. I imagined that was a really Victor-Victoria kind of look (it was 1982). I did get comments or looks for the rest of the day. I was going TO work, not from it... so had just dealt with my little half mustache, until I could get back to the dorm and shave the rest off.

🗒️ NOTE:
In hindsight, I should have gone into a drug store, bought a razor, and just dry shaved and evened it out. But I didn't think of that, at the time, obviously. Someone pointed it out later, in a retelling, and I was like, "Duh! You're right, I should have". But alas, I didn't.


Starting at School, I'd quickly hacked the schools computer. I owned that machine (General Automation Mini Computer was not very secure).

The reason this mattered is I was a Commodore geek. One of the professors was a Tandy guy. I found out that the School was looking to buy a couple labs full of equipment... so I put a bid together with my Ideal to sell them Commodore SuperPet's. This computer had two processors (6502 + 6809) and was designed by/for University of Waterloo, because it ran a dozen different computer languages. It was perfect for a College Computer Lab.

I put in my bid, and the department heads all loved it: it was perfect... and would have paid for my years college in commission. But one professor, who worked at Ideal Computers as well, had put in a bid that was for Tandy Computers -- it was more expensive, and not as on-target for what the School needed, but he was one who had veto rights over any bids. (Conflict of interest much?) That asshat torpedo'd my bid, because he wanted his own. But the Department didn't like his bid, and blocked it, because mine was better. (Another Department head was my buddy and told me what had happened).

Since he'd been a dick to me, and I'd compromised the schools system, I spent the rest of the year, tormenting that asshat. I had a background process that would let me know when he got on. And whenever he did, I'd look at what programs he was working on... and I'd modify his programs and introduce bugs and save it back. (Shared scratch space). So he couldn't figure out how all these bugs kept ending up in his code/projects. Over the course of a couple months, I must have introduced a couple hundred. He'd fix one, and another would pop up somewhere else, that had previously been working. I figured he'd cost me thousands in a righteous sale, I cost him a few times that in wasted time. It was glorious overhearing him argue with the SysAdmin about how this machine had gremlins, and him trying to show that he had print-outs from two days of stuff, and the code had changed itself... and the SysAdmin making finger orbits around his ear when the Professor wasn't looking.

Moral of the story: don't fuck with self-righteous teenage hackers. And even the implausible (that there was a gremlin) wasn't impossible... and I was that little fucking self-righteous time-killing Gremlin.

Work Experiences
They say experience is what you get, when you didn't get what you wanted. I'm not completely sure about that... but work experiences make us who we are (or influence it). This is too brutally honest to be in any Résumé, it's more a Dilbert-esque look at the working world, not to malign the companies I worked at (which were far from the worst places), but more to remind others or myself of what experiences and lessons I got, when I didn't always get what I wanted.