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Crawford’s tribe, Part 1: PC Load Letter?

Posted on Mar 17, 2013 by in Him

I’ve often described my people as comprising a diaspora. We’re scattered across the face of the earth it seems, few in the same city for more than a couple of years at a time. Partly that’s my fault, given my intentional and enthusiastic departure from my hometown immediately after high school.

The weird thing was that I came back. For a while. Right after college. Plans change.

Having decided to follow for at least a little while in the footsteps of the neckbearded and pocket protected, I started writing software, or something like software. I started at BI-LO, a regional grocery chain headquartered in Mauldin, SC. Of course, though I did, in fact, work at the BI-LO facility, I found out on the day I started that I didn’t work for them, but that’s a story for another day, one very much in keeping with the whole late ’90s thing.

Anyway, soon after, I was attracted by the lure of stock options (not really) and windows (really, and I don’t mean the operating system) and pulled up roots for the wilds of the recently deregulated telecommunications industry. About 5 months after I started, sort of, at BI-LO.

It was more or less what you’d expect. Grey cubicles. Horrifyingly misused laser printers. Late-night games of Quake. Motivational posters. Middle managers. Awkward meetings. Unexpectedly challenging attempts to explain buying things on the Internet to senior management. A cyborg manager. Seemingly random layoffs and even more random business plans. Merger after acquisition after merger. The 90s.

Chip and I (and Brent!) slogged through it all together, for a wonderfully strange few years at the telecom company, then the 00s, and now the 10s, watching careers change, watching industries change, watching lives and careers change. Chip is the guy who always seemed to be there for some of the more memorable moments in my life and a few of the, er, not-so-memorable ones.

That one weird night when we all wound up at … well, at a club a couple of miles from downtown Greenville. And were harassed by the same vagrant who’d harassed us downtown seemingly minutes before.

That morning of “wait, that doesn’t look right” when I discovered that someone had rammed my brand new car outside Chip’s house and, somehow, stripped the tire right off a wheel.

The premiere of one of the Star Wars prequels when, as we zipped to the theater, Chip was pulled over … and then let off because the cop had to run take care of something more serious than two geeks on their way to a movie. (No, we weren’t in costume.)

A very odd road trip to Atlanta for New Year’s Eve.

Trivia nights.

Mexican restaurants.

The Marlboro Ranch? Really?

Daring each other to finish off the spice rack at the local Thai place.

Watching the world’s nicest coworker (neither of us, clearly) writhing in pain after accidentally rubbing his eye with hot sauce that could drop an elephant at 20 paces.

Always offering a place for me to stay whenever I visited Greenville.

Many, many, many 4ams.

I moved away from Greenville for good in 2002. I haven’t gotten back as much as I would have liked, but Chip and I, in our neckbearded and pocket protected way, keep up like friends do. Every few days, weeks, months, whatever, an email, a text, an IM. Sometimes even something as throwback as a phonecall. Always preceded by the one-word greeting:


In just a few weeks, Chip will stand next to me while Kari and I get married.

I’ve been sitting here for about 10 minutes trying to think where to go after that sentence, and I don’t think I need to go anywhere.

In just a few weeks, Chip will stand next to me while Kari and I get married.