End of an Era (or The Kaszaneks Leave Los Angeles)

In September of 2002, I got a job as a leasing agent for a company called AIMCO.  I would work for AIMCO longer than I'd ever worked for any company before, up until they downsized me in May of 2008.

Eventually, I became the E-business Coordinator, the sole member of the newly formed E-business office.  The job grew so large, though, that the powers that be decided I need an assistant.  At the time, I more or less knew Matt as the Red Sox fan downstairs.  Believe it or not, but he was one of the receptionists who greeted people when they came in.

This was 2004, so at this point Matt and I were able to commiserate about the fates of our favorite baseball teams (mine being the Cleveland Indians).  Appropriately enough, the last baseball post-season that Matt and I would work together came in 2007, when the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians faced off.  We referred to it as Armageddon.

When Matt was hired as a receptionist, he had a specific request: he wanted every other weekend off.  He asked for the same thing once they made him my assistant.  Hindsight being 20/20, that's a pretty ballsy move to make, particularly since I think it would have been a deal breaker for him, at least as far as him looking for another job.  But Matt's girlfriend Meghan was a reporter for a newspaper in the middle of nowhere, and every other weekend he made the drive out of town to see her.

Always a facilitator of love, I told him it wasn't a problem.  Looking back, though, it's hard to not be impressed by Matt's dedication to Meghan.  At the time, the man didn't even own a car -- he would rent a car every other weekend!  And while he might have been overpaid as a receptionist at AIMCO, he certainly wasn't paid that well.

E-business: None of Yours

If the E-business office at AIMCO was rich in anything, it was comedy.  It is easily the best job I have ever had, if for no other reason that we pretty much made up our own rules.  We had certain goals we had to meet each week, but beyond that we did what we wanted.  Hell, one day we walked across the street and saw "Sideways."

Then there were the e-mails.  In our tenure, we probably answered a hundred thousand e-mails from people looking for apartments.  And we got our fair share of crazy people.  There was Lord Godfrey, who claimed to be a member of the Royal Family and would, of course, need to know about security, as that would be paramount given his connections to Her Royal Highness.  There was a guy who called himself "Outlaw" who, unbeknownst to his parents, had a song on the radio ("they didn't even know I was on the radio!)"  There was the woman who was slow in responding to messages as it was the busy season for selling Marie Osmond Kewpie Dolls.  And let's not forget the people who would e-mail us their credit card numbers.

But there was one person who stood out from the rest, one person who will forever live in our hearts...

The first time we heard from Walt Perko, he asked us if we would be able to accommodate his 7 cockatiels.  The next time we heard from Walt Perko, he asked us if we would be able to accommodate his 3 cockatiels.  This, of course, begged the question: what happened to the other 4 cockatiels?

The best, however, came when we discovered Walt's web site.  I won't ruin it for you.  Just do an internet search for "Walt Perko This Is America" and enjoy what you find.  You will thank me.

It really would be impossible to understate the hilarity of the E-business office or the impact it had on our lives.  Aside from having such a ridiculous schedule (Matt was able to watch every minute of every single Red Sox game of the 2004 post-season), we were always "checking the leads," a phrase that had to have gotten old for Nicole and Meghan given we said it every two hours.

Matt and I hung out outside of work every once in a while, the most memorable of which being the night he met Nicole and implied she was a hooker.  But we didn't really see each other outside of that office that often.  That would change when Meghan finally moved to Los Angeles.


Suddenly Nicole and I had an actual couple to hang out with.  It's a hard road, being friends with misanthropes, even if one of us isn't so much a misanthrope as the then-girlfriend now-wife of a misanthrope.  And even when I wasn't being a wet blanket on Nicole's desire for a social life, it seemed like our lives got more and more complicated and that we were never really able to hang out with Matt and Meghan as much as we'd like.

But I suppose that's what happens these days.  I suppose the complications of modern life make it infinitely harder to find time to spend with others, just as it makes it infinitely more important to find someone to be with.

Regardless, the time that we did get to spend with the eventual Kaszanks was generally great.  What I find strange about it, looking back, is how little we talked about the most obvious things we all had in common.  Meghan and I seldom talked about writing and Nicole and Matt seldom talked about movies.  These topics would come up, sure, but our discussions were never as involved as you would think they'd be.  I suppose they were just too obvious.


Matt and Meghan also introduced us to a shadowy underworld creature that I didn't know existed: the BU Alum.  I think the first party Matt and Meghan ever held was about 90% Boston grads.  It also seemed as if there was a set number of former BU students that had to live in Los Angeles at all times, so that when one moved back East, another had to move out West to take his or her place, and vice versa.  The number of Boston grads I've met only once is off the charts.

And now Matt and Meghan are returning to the East Coast, and no doubt two BU alum are headed this way to replace them.  But, really, how could they?  How do you replace a girl who tried to convince us that mixing red wine and Coke was an actual drink?  That nearly died in our apartment because a cat hair got in her eye?  That tried to convince me that downtown Los Angeles isn't a hell hole?  Who only ever went to one of her boyfriend/husband's baseball games and only because John Hamm was there?  How do you replace a guy who avoided eating a salad until he was in his late 20's?  Who once turned back a third desk from being put in our office like he was facing down a tank in Tienanmen Square?  Who removes the battery from his cell phone during movies for fear it might actually turn itself back on?  Who still owns a boatload of VHS tapes, which are now being shipped all the way to New York?

We probably should have spent more time with Matt and Meghan when they were here, but I'm glad for the time that we did have.  And I would like to tell our new BU additions that they have some big shoes to fill.