For an explanation of the 30 Stories in 30 Days, start at Day 1.
Headed home from Seattle’s annual Drunksgiving celebration. Thought I’d squeeze out a quick story before I leave for the airport.
The Kevin Situation
I had a temp job once, in publishing. I spent a whole summer editing college textbooks for a university publisher that had offices on one floor of a Radisson hotel. That meant we enjoyed all the perks of a desk job (sitting down, internet access) plus all the perks of a hotel job (round the clock bar access and a pool). Plus, it was a temp job, so I didn’t have to care if I lost that job. (For the record, I did–lose the job, not care.)
Most of us in the office were temps, and new to the job, so the first week was pretty quiet. But after a couple of group lunches, we found that most of us got along pretty well, and shared more of an interest in boozing it up than editing textbooks. Long “margarita lunches” were soon supplemented with “smoke breaks” at the hotel bar. Often a few of us would hit a happy hour after work, and on more than one occasion we’d close down the bar.
I’m not bragging about the drinking, by the way. I barely drink at all anymore. I don’t think it’s super cool to drink on the job or relate to a group of people solely through alcohol.
But things were different in my twenties. I was moving all over the country–a new state every couple of months. I was single and going out all night, every night, hadn’t become boring yet. The three months I worked in publishing were the booziest three months of my life.
One morning I came into work still drunk from the night before. I wasn’t hungover. I was still drunk. The one guy I didn’t really like in that office noticed my sunglasses were staying on indoors a bit too long and made some sort of wisecrack.
“Shut up… Kevin,” was the best I could come up with in response.
The thing is–that guy’s name was not Kevin. I forget what it actually was, but I know it wasn’t Kevin. And “Kevin” didn’t like to be called Kevin, even after I rationalized, “Well, you look like a Kevin to me.”
I noticed that the more I called him Kevin, the more he hated it. So, of course, his name would be Kevin forever, as far as I was concerned. I’d catch the other folks in the office laughing to themselves when I’d say something like, “Hey Kevin, I’m getting some coffee–you want some?” Kevin would just make an angry noise and try to ignore me, but every once in a while he’d snap and raise his voice.
“Stop calling me Kevin!”
That day I took a long lunch with the rest of my office buddies, including the IT guy. I wasn’t driving (mostly because I was drinking, but also because I didn’t have a car), so I rode back to the office with the IT guy and he got me stoned in the parking lot. I told him about “the Kevin situation” and he laughed, and then joked that he should change that dude’s computer login so that he’d have to log in as Kevin to make it work. I begged him to do it, for real. He laughed and agreed.
Always make friends with the IT guy. Always.
When Kevin came back from lunch he sat at his desk, confused, entering his password over and over and becoming frustrated at the error message that kept popping up. Finally, he announced to the room, “My computer’s not letting me log in!”
“Are you sure you’re signing in with the correct name?” I asked, sweetly.
It took him a second to understand what I meant. But when he figured it out, he was furious. He stared at me and huffed a little, but I just smiled and pretended to be working on something of my own. He then reluctantly typed in the name “Kevin” with his password and cursed loudly when the login was successful.
We all tried really hard not to laugh–you could see he did not find it funny. Some giggles escaped a few of us, despite our best efforts.
I finally saved up enough money from that job to buy a car, which would have ended my drinking, one way or another. The same day I was planning on purchasing an old Nissan, I was called into my boss’s office to find out that my position there would be ending in a week. I was not surprised. I hadn’t actually had any work to do for days, and I’m guessing the few permanent positions were being given to one of the less-wasted employees.
I went to lunch with the gang, had a few drinks, and decided to move to Los Angeles. I spent the rest of the afternoon making arrangements–I had stopped even pretending to work at that point.
I don’t know what happened to “Kevin.” He had only signed on for the summer and was returning to school full time in the fall. I do know that for the rest of his time at that company–even after I left–he had to sign in as Kevin every day.