Caught in a Time Tunnel

I haven’t blogged much this week as a very interesting experience happened to me and a number of people across the US. I have mentioned that I worked the storage industry 15 years ago. It was a small company in Boca Raton that capitalized on the success of the IBM PC. The company was bought out by the AIWA division of Sony and later folded. I lost track of most of my

co-workers, occasionally finding each other at trade shows, but a few of them contacted me via my blog.

The employees went to any number of companies that include Fujitsu, Compaq (HP), ADP, Ziff Davis and Good Morning America, Disney, LSI Logic, IBM, Lenovo, NetApp, Ingram Micro, Gucci and a few who started their own businesses. (Sorry if I missed some of your companies, not intentional).

The interaction exploded this week with an innocuous note about a reunion, and the communication shot out of a cannon. People added a couple of people they knew until a big list of ex employees were chatting as if the 15 years never happened. It was quite interesting hearing about what everyone was doing, almost like an online college reunion. I read other’s blogs and personal pages. It seems as if everyone has move on to bigger and better things. Who knew that we had that much talent while we were scrapping against the big boys of the industry!  Thank God we didn’t have a real reunion.  I don’t want to have to restart the clock since I last saw them and we didn’t get together on purpose.

There was a common thread to most of the communications, that being the owner of the company whom I’ll leave at eccentric (and everyone else called a cheapskate). They all had a story about this owner, and many had multiple stories. It was genuine book material which is what the corporate attorney told me when we worked there. From day one, he kept track of the bizarre behavior and was in disbelief at the antics, saying to me once that he should write about this one day.  There was the memo he sent that said to steal pens and safety clips at the bank to save money.  The bad office memo of the day (that got read over the radio) happened when we were told to go home, and then had to make up the time we didn’t work.

Everyone opens and closes chapters in their life. I thought this one was closed, but was delighted that it returned briefly. I was somewhat happy to hear from everyone. As it turns out, others also study the martial arts, some changed careers, there was a funny story about engineers setting up an electric eye cam with speakers in their back room to know when the boss was coming (who said IT guys aren’t creative), and at least one went on to stay and prosper in the storage industry.  He told the owner and his henchman Robert A that the reason he left was because of how they treated me when I left.

It brought me back to a different time in my life where I cut my teeth in a lot of PR techniques that I use today to get my job done.  It’s stuff they never teach you in IBM PR, because IBM was never that creative.  I amazed them when I got to IBM by doing tactical and strategic PR they had never heard of.  The press described IBM PR as moribund.

The story unfolded more this year, as I ran into the former owner of the company and while we had our differences, I decided to extend my olive branch and it was accepted. We discussed racing and life and he even commented on my postings and of the email remembrances. It was quite nice to see that through years, time and maturity (by some of the employees) we could reconnect as humans. Instead of employer/employee status, we were just guys at the track that day.  I, unlike others could put his antics behind me, even a lawsuit because he sued everyone.

One went on to be very famous (Gina Smith) and I was able catch up with at a conference and it was like we were still at CORE.  She was quite gracious and we enjoyed the short time we could spend together.

Unfortunately, it is more than I can say for one of the employees who couldn’t let her emotions go and grow up. One whom I pity was a misandrist who wouldn’t take the olive branch (Sondra Arkin, nicknamed Barkin by this group).  Like the story above, I offered to bury the hatchet to no avail, and she sent me hate mail in response to my offer to move on.  She was in technical writing and actually worked for me in marketing for a while, but never was able to let go of her hate and responded with ad hominem attack which was very revealing. She didn’t mature from that period, and time stood still for her as far as we were concerned. The dichotomy of the situation was she wanted to be one of the boys while professing to be a feminist, a bipolar relationship with men.

It is funny to me that both of the above two spent time working for me.  I wrote a reference letter to PC Week to do what I could to help Gina.  Little did I know that she would go on to be very successful.  Conversely, despite any attempt to help Sondra, whom I also would have helped in her next endeavor were rebuffed.  That is the way life turns out.  She amounted to nothing.  We all had a great time with everyone else in the reminiscing of our days at CORE and the stories about our encounters with the owner.  Only one person couldn’t move on with life, but she wasn’t in the group chat anyway.  No one likes a sore loser or a spiteful person, like Sondra.

Anyway, as for the rest of us, it was good to catch up based on the time we had spent together earlier in life.

For me, it was also good that it ended as quickly as it started.  I’d closed them out of my life once and doubt that door will be re-opened again.


6 thoughts on “Caught in a Time Tunnel

  1. I currently work for Lenovo and during a recent employee survey conducted by Gallup, one questions was “Do you have a best friend at work”. We all thought this was a strange thing to ask. However, reading through the string of notes in the past couple of days, from people I worked with 15 yeards ago at a company they didn’t particularly care for, it is clear, that the only reason we all stayed as long as we did, was the great friendships we build at work.

    It has been so much fun to see where everyone is 15 years later…….


  2. As John mentioned, it has been an interesting week – to say the least. When emails first started landing in my mailbox, I was totally caught off-guard. It was indeed an unexpected pleasure. I’ve had the opportunity to work at several companies and ad agencies in various cities and states over the years – some small, some very large – and if nothing else, I realize now how satisfying my time in Boca Raton really was. Echoing Therese’s sentiments: it’s clear the main reason I stayed so long was because of the friendships that evolved. What’s most interesting to me is that even with all of the owner’s antics and other prevailing issues of the day, the company was able to assemble a talented staff of professionals that were fun to work and socialize with on a regular basis. That is rare. It’s been great reconnecting with everyone. let’s not wait another 15 years!


  3. Pingback: Delusions of Adequacy » Gina Smith; Author of iWoz, TV celebrity, Radio Personality, CEO, Journalist but most of all Friend

  4. Do you encourage your wife to comment on your blogs?  I know I’m kind of a jerk for posting comments like this, but I can’t help myself.


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