After 40 years as a computer programmer and game developer—and the passing of his wife of 47 years—Rick has retired and is now living in Ye Olde Folks Home, where he still tinkers with tech and likes to write these amusing and/or thoughtful tales about his storied life.

Life Among the Progressives

In the late ’70s, while attending college, I was a writer on the staff of the Chico News and Review, a weekly tabloid magazine run at the time by a fun-loving ragtag crew of professed progressive socialists, who fancied themselves as being an employee-owned collective governed by “consensus.”

Was I a progressive? Depends on your definition, I suppose. (By today’s standards, no.)

Was I a socialist? Decidedly not.

Fun times, fun times. It paid the bills. I really did love working with them all despite our differences.

“Consensus” involved a lot of meetings at which there were frequent loud arguments and myriad votes were taken, many of which were not decided in a way I favored.

One of them involved the problem of people mistakenly entering the wrong restroom at our offices.

This mistake was made because there were no signs on the doors of any kind; the two doors were completely identical. Someone suggested putting up signs saying “Men” and “Women.” But this was swiftly voted down as being “sexist.”

Yeah, I had a difficult time wrapping my head around that.

I suggested two signs reading “Bathroom With Urinal” and “Bathroom Without Urinal.”

The rest of the staff thought this suggestion uproariously funny, but it was voted down also.

And so the bathroom doors remained unadorned.

One time our bookkeeper was having a tough time making payroll, so he decided to simply not pay the IRS their cut that month.

Well, that didn’t work out so well. The IRS soon arranged what is sometimes referred to as a “Come to Jesus meeting” at which an orderly repayment schedule was worked out.

But the next month when payroll time came around, we all were surprised to learn that the IRS, ignoring the payment schedule that had been negotiated, had simply taken the whole sum they were owed, all at once.

This meant that our payroll checks bounced all over town.

When our bookkeeper called the IRS up to complain, he was told: “We changed our minds.”

Many years later a couple of the senior staff decided they were the “owners” and sold the company off. A number of people were pretty sore about that. Hah. Capitalism, ho!

I bet the new owners put some signs up.

The staff of the Chico News and Review, circa 1978.