the random guy.
© 1998 Jamie Zawinski <>

Ashley and I were at a record store, and as we walked down the aisle, some fellow was staring at me. I stared back.

At this point both Ashley and Random Guy's girlfriend wandered off.

Here's where I start getting that sinking ``oh please don't talk to me about work'' feeling. Here's where I'm sure the next thing he's going to say is, ``I was wondering if you knew why Netscape crashes so much on my machine...''

Ashley perks up at this and wanders back, Cabaret Voltaire being one of his favorite topics.

I was so pleased that this didn't turn out to be a work conversation. Of course Random Guy went and spoiled it later, when we ran into each other again in the checkout line, by asking me when Mozilla was going to be done. I apologized and explained that I was on vacation, and so, answering that question would be against Policy.

Then Ashley (who I'm repeatedly mentioning in this story because I know he will enjoy it so) asked me, as perhaps you also are wondering, how often this kind of thing happens to me. The answer is, ``never before in a record store.'' I tend to get fanboyed at trade shows and so on, but out in the real world, this just doesn't happen. It's always strange when the net reaches over into the Big Room, but running into strangers who know more about me than I know about them is the weirdest. It's as if you were watching TV and the characters started talking to you.

For example: a few years ago I was at a party, and I started picking at a bowl of M&Ms on the table. One of the folks standing nearby said, ``have the red ones, they're very postmodern.'' And I cringed, but then I realized, wait, that's a joke -- this turkey I've never seen before is referring to the ``Words Which Will Make Me Leave The Party'' bit that used to be on my web site.

And for the plate of shrimp file, Ashley and I met under similar circumstances. I had owned a CD by his band long before we met, and he knew me as ``that guy who did the Shriekback discography'' back when the web was young. When he finally moved to the States, everyone he met knew me, even the non-nerds, though we didn't actually encounter each other for years.

It's just not right, I tell you.

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