"Working" Kirk Reeves, RIP

I learned from the Thursday morning Snoregonian that Kirk Reeves was found dead of suicide on Sunday in the Smith and Bybee wetlands. Some of you may have seen Kirk playing his trumpet in his sequined suit and mickey mouse hat on the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge. For OSCON, he would move his performance to the sidewalk in front of the convention center. He ran Linux on his computer (from an Ubuntu disk I gave him) before he became homeless.

I first met Kirk at the Orycon science fiction convention, where he told me of recently "losing" his job working at a tech support company. His job was answering customer complaints about a modem PC card. The problem was that the design was defective - none of the cards worked, but nevertheless the major brand sold tens of thousands of them. Kirk's job was to make the help-seeking callers feel stupid and go away. Kirk was a gentle and loving soul, this was not in his nature. His subversive strategy was to lead the customers down his decision tree ( "Did you install the update? Say yes." ) until they came out at the end of the tree with a replacement modem. With this gambit, he led the customers through the calls very quickly, and his call-handling rates were stellar. Until management caught on, and he lost his job.

His next job was night operator and tape monkey at a data center. While the tapes spun, he practiced playing his garage sale trumpet - lonely machine rooms at midnight are great places to make noise. But Kirk was no machine-tending loner, he decided his calling was entertaining people. He offered his offkey but exuberant services on eBay (one customer flew him to France to play a wedding), and you can see many of his videos on youtube.

Kirk died at 56, but measuring his life in smiles and fun, he outlived all of us.

Friends will hold a candlelight vigil at Sunday Nov 18 at 4pm near the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge.

KirkReeves (last edited 2012-11-08 20:50:04 by KeithLofstrom)