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C-Pics

02/06/09

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Telmar home Noyes Avenue photos & stories Sky Park Circle Original web site C-Pics stories Telmar party photos

C-Pics was a CompuServe online forum for telephone company buyers and their suppliers.  I was the Sysop (system operator), and in the early days of Telmar, went to Ohio for training with CompuServe.  In the days before the Internet, a CompuServe online forum was the best way to instantly reach your customers and suppliers.   'PICS' was the telephone company lingo for Plug-In Circuits, which is what Telmar sold - circuit packs, repeaters, range extenders, etc.  Telephone companies would post their PICS 'wants' (equipment requests) and their lists of available surplus PICS equipment.  I added a C-Pics database, and for a while published a monthly catalog of equipment available in the online database.

C-Pics users were a small but interesting band, especially AT&T, and we would pass jokes back and forth in the online messages.  I would also post an occasional Friday afternoon story.  No one ever complains if you are the boss!   Here are a couple of them:

18378 S1/PICS  23-Feb-96
Sb: Friday Story
Fm: Telmar Distributing 74166,2230
To: All

  It was one of those dreary days when the sun forgets to wake up.  The rain was seeping under the window, and dripping into a waste basket.  Suddenly the phone rang and I picked it up.  You never know  when it might be money calling.
  "Detective McBain from the 17th Precinct", said the voice.  Crazy Eddie McBain.  I remembered the nights we'd closed down the bars on 17th, but that was a long time ago, and he was 'Detective' McBain now.
  "Yeah, Ed", I said, "Trouble?"  It was always trouble when Crazy Eddie called.
  "That dame o'yours..", he began.  I tried to cut him off, but he kept going.  "We can only turn a blind eye for so long..  Repeaters, OK so you say big deal, right?  Yeah OK and maybe a Range Extender or two.  But now she's into Multiplexers.  I can't ignore this one, Johnny.  Multiplexers is Federal.   That's a five-ten at the big house, and no, the DA won't P.B. this one down."
  I let him finish.  Ed is always more reasonable if you let him have his say.  "All right Eddie", I began, "just let me talk to her.."
  "No, talk is no good.  I want her out of town, and tonight.  You know the boss is hot on Pics, and I don't want no trouble.  Trouble and me, we don't get along no more."
  "OK Eddie, I hear you...", but he was already gone.
  So that was it; she'd finally overstepped the line.  I knew I had to find her and put her on the next bus out of town.  Where to?  Who knows.  Maybe a little town in the back of beyond where nobody knew her and her shady past.  She was bad news, but I knew I'd not seen the last of her yet.

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9566 S1/PICS  28-Jul-88
Sb: Friday story: Indiana PICS
Fm: Telmar Distributing 74166,2230
To: All

  The rumors were true:  we all stood around and watched the trailer back up to the dock - they were finally here, those T1R1214s and T1R1224s that we'd searched so long for.  It was an emotional moment, a couple of us dabbed our eyes and looked away.  We thought of the phone calls we'd made, far into the night, the false leads and the forgotten promises.  We remembered the long trek into the Amazon rain forest, the snake pit and the collapsing rope bridge.  Now it was all over.
  Someone had brought a camera and we all stood in front of the unloaded pallets.  This was one for the scrap book.  And then a little yellow forklift trundled up, and a brown-coated warehouseman took the T1R1214s and T1R1224s far away across the long warehouse.  Row 63, location 17.  After all our adventures, it was something of an anticlimax.

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11708 S1/CPICS  29-Jan-90
Sb:  Friday story: While the City Sleeps
Fm: Telmar Distributing 74166,2230
To: All

  The stairs to my third floor office didn't get any less, but neither did the elevator get any less broke.  I stopped suddenly - through the glass panel of my office door I could see a light.  I pushed the door, and over by the window, there's a dame.
  "Oh, it's you Johnny", she said, "I knew you had to come back."  She lit a Lucky with a worn Zippo, and leaned back, sighing.
  I pulled her roughly up by the arm.  "Look doll", I said, "you don't fool me none.  You've been out buying Pics again, haven't you?"
  She pulled away from me, "No Johnny, I.."
  I kicked her purse roughly across the floor.  Two shiny repeaters fell out.  She fell silent, and looked away.  Suddenly she stood up, and crushed her Lucky violently into a tin ashtray.
  "All right Johnny, all right.  I tried to keep to repeaters, but lately I've been buying pack circuits.  Even range extenders.  And I tell you, I'm glad.  Glad!  I'm in with a fast crowd now Johnny, not like the old days.  We all buy Pics, and sell them, and the cops daren't do nuthin about it."
  I picked up the phone, but I knew it was too late.  She scooped up her purse and was gone, rattling the glass door panel behind her.
  I knew I'd hear about her sometime, a statistic on the police blotter or working in some lowlife Pics joint downtown.

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