Information Systems


Chris Ryals- Chris was a big guy, about 6'8, nearly 300 pounds, almost no fat.   He played football for USM, and was the ex-college roommate and close friend of Brett Favre (of Green Bay Packers fame).  Chris had wanted to go pro after college, but when he went out to Texas to try out for the Houston Oilers, he was the SMALLEST person there, and the other guys said "Little boy, you're going to get hurt if you play with us!" So he came back to MS and made a career out of computers.  He was one of the neatest and most humorous people I've ever worked with... when people called, we made them specify if they wanted to talk to "Big Chris" or "Little Chris".  At 5'12" and 180 lbs, I was no slouch, but compared to Chris Ryals, I was a child...   Chris had to DUCK to enter a office or get on the elevator.   The elevator bounced when he stepped on, dipping a full inch down into the floor!


"If this stuff was easy to work with, then it wouldn't be called HARDWARE, now would it?!  It would be called EASYWARE!" - me talking to Ryals one day while I was nearly upside down in a crawl way working on some telephone cables, data lines and wire conduits.


"How do you know if your program isn't working if you can't even log onto the network?!"- There was a user complaining that their mortgage loan tracking program wasn't working.  The fact was, they were not even logged into the network and they were trying to operate a network only program.


Then there was the time when Holly Jones (real last name changed to protect the guilty) set her Windows 3.1 colors to the "HOT DOG STAND" scheme, and we discovered that this particular scheme totally rendered invisible ALL text in the various input fields in the mortgage loan program.  Invisible.   Gone.  Having a hunch, I set her Windows colors back to WINDOWS DEFAULT and voila!  All her info came right back into view.  Over the next few months, we had to repeat this process about five more times as Holly experimented with the 'pretty colors' on her screen and each time we fixed it the same way.  Holly went on to a lucrative pole dancing career in south Florida, last I heard.  Hey, it was easier to learn than a computer system!

All the young bucks thought Holly was HAWT!  The truth was that while she had a body by Mattel, she had a mind by Hostess and she really wasn't that pretty to look at in the face.  Imagine Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister with tits and you've got Holly.  I even made fun of her one time by finding a poster of Dee Snyder (from a heavy metal magazine) and making up a tiny button for him to wear on his costume.  The button said "I'M NOT HOLLY JONES."

I'm sure she eventually made a OTR truck driver real happy when she said "yes!", got married and moved into a double wide outside of Orlando.


Well, one day, we were sitting in Micah's office discussing playing "Paint Ball".   There was Roger, Micah, Michael (the pacifist liberal democrat and the only example of that breed in an otherwise staunch Republican atmosphere), Ryals and I.   Michael couldn't believe some of us would play such a horrible game of war like Paint Ball.  He kept asking stuff like "Does it hurt when you get hit?" and other silly questions.  Ryals reassured him that no trees were harmed during our 'warfare'.  We were patient, answering them all until he turned to Chris Ryals and asked

"What if I shot you in the face, like on your forehead with my paint ball gun, I mean, that would REALLY hurt, wouldn't it?"

At which point Chris Ryals unfolded his arms, leaned forward and in a very deep, low, and authoritative voice proclaimed:

"Well, Michael, if you did that, I'd just have to get out my Paint Knife and retaliate."

Folks ... there's no such thing as a "paint knife."  Think about it.


Anyone who is a fan of British humor knows that the term "rogering" refers to anal sex.  Used as in "She got rogered by some pissed sod who followed her home...".  Having passed the complete Black Adder collection around the office, everyone was familiar with all the Brit terms and knowledgeable of all the humor.  Well, Chris Ryals and I were working on a phone circuit over in Forrest Towers, 8th floor one day, when Roger came walking up, back from some other IS mission somewhere in the same building.  We were trying to get the phone closet room door open but it was locked, and none of the keys that Micah had given to us seemed to work in the lock.  Chris was having a bad day so when Roger came up and asked the stupid question:

"Door locked?  Can't get it open huh?  Come on, big guy like you can't get THAT little door open.  Sheeesh!"

Chris Ryals just looked at me, and an evil grin appeared on his face.

He put the keys back in his pocket and in one fluid motion, picked up the much smaller Roger by the collar and the back of his belt, and started test swinging him forward and back, like he was going to use him as a battering ram to bash the door in.   Roger was flailing, but Chris was an incredibly strong human being, and Roger was, well, kind of weak.  So no contest.

"Excuse me, Sir." Chris said to me, hauling Roger way back in the air for the last bit of momentum "If you would, please stand back while I 'Roger' this door open."


"Phoenicians.  Good sailors.  Bad alphabet..." - Chris Ryals.


"Man, don't ever take a first date to the K-Mart cafeteria." - Roger's bit of dating wisdom, passed on to us just out of the blue one morning.


All of MFB's Burroughs ET 1100 and ET 1200 terminals were under service contract with a company called "FPC".  Since these were archaic 'dumb' terminals, they were going out at the rate of about three a week.  We constantly were sending out terminals and getting repaired ones in.  One day, Ryals was sitting in my cubicle and I had just gotten off the phone with a service tech at FPC.

"What does FPC really stand for?" I mused.  "Four People in Chad?"

Ryals busted out laughing.

"No." he said.  "It stands for Fudge Packing Clowns."


I had to deal with FPC many times a day, and always with someone new because turnover was high there, especially on tech support, so I never had a 'set tech' to deal with on a regular basis.  One day, I came back from break and Ryals gave me one of those pink "While You Were Out" slips with a note that a tech named Julie had called from FPC and there was listed a 1-800 number.  Without thinking, I figured it was another problem with either a Burrough's terminal being not on the work log or with one of the Diablo printers (huge daisy wheel printers that could print through three pieces of sheetrock...).  So I sit down, and dial the number.

The phone rang on the other end about three times and was answered with a automated message that went...

"Thank you for calling 1-800-WE FUCK U" and then started listing options for various charge phone sex call items.

At first I couldn't believe what I heard, I checked the phone number...   Then I heard this huge snicker, and I just kind of smiled, and put the phone down, and there, standing behind the column, looking DOWN into my cubicle, was Ryals (remember, the guy is over six and a half feet tall).  Ryals is turning different shades of red from laughing so hard.

I got him back though...  It's true what they say, payback is hell.


Roger got on Ryal's nerves a lot, just doing stupid things.  Sometimes, Roger would go and do something, and then Ryals would have to go behind him and redo it, correctly.  From scratch.  It had been one of those types of days, and Ryals was just plain put out with Roger.  Ryals and I were sitting in Micah's office that afternoon, when Roger came in and flopped down.  When Micah questioned him on the latest service call, it was found that Roger had missed completing the call, half-assing it again. 

Micah just hung his head, then looked up at Ryals and said "Go fix it the right way..."

"OK, but first I have some business to take care of here in the department..." Ryals said.

Ryals stood up, unbottoned his cuff, and rolled his shirt sleeve up as far as it would go on his massive arm.  Roger stood up and took a step for the door as Ryals took a step toward him.

"Roger, I'm going to give you a headstart..."

"Mighty generous of you there, Ryals..." Roger said.  "How far do I get?"

"All the way to the end of my arm..." Ryals replied.


Most of the IS department were pretty deep philosophical thinkers, well versed in the 'weird' stuff.  So after three weeks of working for the IS department, I promptly christened the department hand dolly as the "Salvadore Dolly", a play on words on the surreal artist Salvador Dali.  The name stuck, and the taped on name lasted for my whole term of employment at MFB, through one leave, and one return and even three years after I was gone.   Ryals always called the dolly the "Good old Salvadore".  The "Salvadore Dolly" is probably still there, still in use...  The amazing thing is, EVERYONE in the department knew who Salvadore Dali was, but no one OUTSIDE the department (except for Bill) knew.

It was our private little joke.


Ryals and I had a long discussion on WHERE all the equipment we installed and maintained was produced in.  Often the stuff was made in Korea or Thailand or somewhere else.  One day, Ryals found some printer that didn't have a 'made in' label on it.  So I made one up.  I chose a country where you NEVER saw anything come out of; Chad.  After that, EVERYTHING was made in Chad.  Made with pride in Chad, etc.  We even did little labels on the laser printer and attached them to different pieces of equipment.  One day, Ryals got a different look on his face when he walked in and looked at his monitor.  I had put a label on it to cover up the "MADE IN CHAD" label.



"Ungha!" - My code word for 'break', taken from the cartoon show "Captain Caveman".  I would pick up my phone and dial inner office to Ryal's office and say "Ungha!" like a caveman.  Ryals would come to my cubicle with his coffee cup, get this puppy dog look on his face, point to the ceiling (we were located in the basement, below ground floor, break room was on 3rd floor, so we had four floors to go up) and say one word.  "Ungha!"  I would grab my cup and we would head on break.  It caught on pretty quick with Bill, who would call and say "Ungha!" at which point Ryals and I would head over to Forrest Towers to have break with Bill.


"Do you want to go get some Coke..." -Shields

"Yes ... and something to drink!" -Ryals in reply.

This was my standard break question to Ryals and his standard reply back.  We had a Coke fountain dispenser above, and every time people were saying "I'm going to go get some Coke", my mind went to thinking that they were going to do lines of the white stuff instead of get some carbonated beverage from a dispenser.


Ryals and I were going to go to lunch one day, and we asked Michael, the eternally poor democrat, if he wanted to go with us, because we felt kind of sorry for him sitting there all alone with all of his video equipment. 

"Michael, do you want to go to lunch with Shields and I?"

Michael went into this long diatribe about how Reagan economics had ruined the country and that he didn't have any money to go to lunch, etc. and after about forty-five seconds of this, Ryals just hung his head, shaking it and said:

"Shields... What ever happened to good old YES or NO?"


Ryals finally got a chance to move into a nicer apartment, one he had been trying to get into for months.  On the day he was moving out, everything was at the new apartment, and all he had to do was turn in his key.  Well, this was cause for celebration!  Ryals, Raymond, Bill, and I went out to celebrate.  Well, the food was a little rich, and Ryals was obviously miserable the rest of the afternoon.  At about 3:00pm, he got up from my cubicle, holding his stomach and heading for the door.

"Leaving early for the day?" I asked.

"Yeah.  But first, I'm going to go give my old toilet something to remember me by..." he said.


"I tell you what..." Ryals said one day, standing by my cubicle and shaking his head.  "If Roger doesn't straighten up and start doing some work, expect to see his face on the side of a milk carton real soon!"


There was a time when Ryals and I were in the CEO's office, in what we called 'The Vatican', it was the poshest floor in the whole corporation.  You really needed to be on your best behavior over there, because it was the heart and soul of our corporate world.  We had gone from the very lowest level of any building in the corporation to the highest possible floor of any building in the corporation. There was a problem with the computer system in the CEO's office, and when we got the call, it was Big Chris and Little Chris to the rescue.  We had just come back from the mall getting lunch, and it was affecting Ryals a little more than me.  So, while I was at the threshold of the door to the CEO's office, standing in the frame, talking to the CEO's secretary (the CEO was gone for the day), Ryals was sitting at the CEO's computer trying to approach the problem that way.  As I was gathering information about the problem, Ryals let go with one of the loudest, wet farts I have ever heard.  The fact that he was ten feet behind me and hidden by the wall made the secretary think that I had done the evil deed, in mid sentence talking to her!  The look on her face was all I needed to hang my head in shame, no way to explain it away or present the truth.  I just took it and sighed.

I never let Ryals live that down.


I had a Chinese Abacus in my cubicle.  Being interested in oriental culture, I had picked up a very nice example of one at a oriental trade store while on vacation.  The Abacus was the first example of a 'modern computer' and as such was a constant source of amazement to me.  I had it displayed proudly in my cubicle next to a very nicely decorated rice bowl, a small folding screen, and a Banzai tree.  After all the trouble with Realty Services, I made up a new label one day and put it on the Abacus for all to see.  When Ryals walked into my cubicle one day, ready for break, he said "Ungha!" and then looked over at the Abacus.  Reading the label on the top of the Abacus, he sat back down in his chair and almost wet himself he was laughing so hard.

The label read quite simply:

abacus.jpg (8638 bytes)