Working and being with Jos

Working and being with Jos

spoken by Rosemary Stasek

The first time that I met Jos is when I interviewed for a job at WebTV. He came in and said that he was really excited that I was an economics major. The question that he wanted me to answer was to talk about some of the economic effects of the internet. That was so easy for me because I talked about how on city council we are losing sales tax revenues because there are no sales taxes on sales on the internet.

We just went off on this tangent about talking about economics and government. I don't even remember where the interview went. I remember thinking I really, really wanted to work with this guy, this would be really cool.

When I came to work here we worked in cubes right next to each other for the whole time that we were here together.

[The video omits this bit.] All day long we would yell stuff at each other over the cube walls. It was like a running comedy show.

Nobody got anything done all day long because it would be completely quiet and then out of the blue, Jos or I would start yelling one liners back and forth over the cube wall to each other. Sometimes you would have absolutely no idea what we were talking about because we would start off with an email exchange. We would start emailing each other back and forth some story we were telling each other or having some conversation. All of a sudden in the middle of the email conversation one of us would start talking to the other and so you get these disjointed, what seemed like disjointed conversations - but they were always hilarious.

Every once in a while you would just hear the entire department just crack up over something we had talked about.

[Video picks up again.] One of the ones I remember is the time when he had sent me some email about technology. I sent back a really smart-ass reply about how men have their toys and they have to have fast cars and they love technology and it was really a just reflection of their manhood.

Out of the blue he yells over the cube wall, "Rosey, if women ran the world, would buildings be circular?"

You had no idea if you were listening to this conversation where that came from or what the context of the conversation was, so of course I shot back, "Well you know, Jos, in matriarchal agrarian societies, houses were built circular around a central courtyard which was the center of family life."

He shouts back, "You know, I'm really very skeptical of these matriarchal agrarian societies where they what? --dance? --to resolve their conflicts."

And I said, "No Jos, bake offs!" 

"I didn't say that." He yelled.

The entire department just fell apart. This was every day. This was every day, all day long.

The other one I remember was the St.Claire of Assisi test where he came in and he had found something about St.Claire of Assissi on the internet, and about how she had visions.

Of course he always asked me all the catholic questions because he knew I was always up on all the catholic stuff. I explained to him, I said, "Yes Jos, because she saw visions, she was named as the patron saint of computers and technology by the Catholic Church".

He thought that was extraordinary that we had a patron saint for computers. I said, "Well, it's absolutely coincidence. What is the name of the county that Silicon Valley is housed in? Santa Clara county". He thought that was pretty amazing and decided there and then he was going to put St.Claire of Assisi as his wall paper on his computer.

He proceeded to give all of us a St.Claire of Assisi quiz he had found on the internet.  And of course, once again, the entire department comes to grinding halt while Jos gives a St.Claire of Assisi quiz.

It was just every single day. Every day, all day long.

I remember thinking when I would come in on Mondays, what a bummer because he didn't work on Mondays. I would sit down and get ready to yell something to him and then I would remember, Oh, he wasn't there.

But then when he would come in on Tuesday and I would have three day's worth of stuff we had to shoot back and forth to each other. So Tuesday mornings were particularly unproductive. Not for us, we were incredibly productive, it was the rest of the department who had to listen to all this.

On the mornings when he would come in you would hear him coming down the hall and you would hear him talking, already talking to people, yelling to people, and people would be saying good morning to him and it was like: Jos is here! Jos is here! You could just feel him coming down the hallway. The first thing he'd say when he came by my cube would be,

"Rosey, are we going to have fun today?"
and I would, depending on my mood, I would mumble something, or I would give him some smart-ass reply back.

The other thing he would always ask is if we were going to be productive today. He would say, "We're going to get so much done today."

I don't know that we ever did because I would leave early in the afternoon about 3 or 3:30 and I would say, "OK Jos, I'm out of here. I'm off to serve you."

And he would make some smart remark about how I could improve Mountain View on my way off to city hall.

He was such, such a part of being here, of being at work. When you think about spending 6 or 7 waking hours with someone every day, it is more time than you spend with just about anyone else in your life awake. And that's what it was like with Jos.

He would walk me to lunch every day. Every day he would say, "OK, let's go." He would walk me across the street. He'd go upstairs and get the other people who he was going to have lunch with and I'd go into the cafeteria; but everyday he would walk me across the street to lunch. It was just those little things that made up the rhythm of our everyday lives.

I remember one day in the cafeteria when I came in after him. He was about five people ahead of me in line, and I was struggling over some PERL questions. He was my PERL guru. He just, you know, he just was always able to figure out some really elegant way to write a piece of script.

I remember coming into the cafeteria and the cafeteria is packed. I see Jos about five people ahead of me in line and of course I get all excited because I need to ask him this question. I yell across the cafeteria to him,

"Jos, don't think I just love you for your body, I need you to help me with an array in my PERL script."
The entire cafeteria stops. One man turns to Jos and says, "I waited all my life for a woman to say that to me". A bunch of people just started bowing at Jos. That's how it was.

Things were always lively when he was around. You just never knew what he was going to say, or what he was going to do. You just knew it was going to something funny and off the wall.

I didn't get to spend much time with Jos outside of work and I really, really regret that. I don't know if we had had more time, if we would have spent more time together outside of work. We did have one date, our one big date, but I'm sure that Jos didn't consider it a date.
She was Vice Mayor at the time, soon to become Mayor of the City of Mountain View, CA.
I really had a crush on Jos. I tried to figure out, "OK how can I spend some time with this guy outside of work?" So of course I fell back on my position of power.

I told Jos that I needed a date for an official city function and would he accompany me to this official city function? He agreed.

What it was, was the West Coast premier of the Joy Luck Club, the play, at the Center for Performing Arts in Mountain View and before it would be a dinner at a local Chinese Restaurant. This was all organized by Leadership Mountain View, a group of basically movers and shakers in Mountain View, such that there is, and all these people had gone to the leadership program, and they were commissioners and all kinds of council members, committee members, heads of non profits in the city, a mini Who's Who of Mountain View.

So I told Jos, "No jeans." You never knew what Jos was going to show up in. I mean, a man who shopped at Ragtime and is really proud of his 65-cent shirts. You want to give him a little bit of guidance about what he is going to wear to a big-deal official city function. "OK Jos, no jeans, you want to look kind of nice." So he said OK.

He showed up OK. He showed up in khakis and some kind of shirt. I don't know if he bought it at Ragtime but it looked pretty good. He had on maroon suede shoes. OK, so there was nothing I was going to do at this point about the maroon suede shoes, but he looked pretty good. So we went out to this dinner where he completely mesmerized people at the dinner.

A man that I know very well who sat at the table with us, to this day he spent only about an hour with Jos. To this day he talks about Jos. He just was so taken with him, how witty he was, how smart he was, and gregarious he was.

Jos really had the whole table engaged in this outrageous conversation. I don't even remember what it was. I remember being completely torn between being completely engaged in this outrageous conversation, and being a bit horrified that I am sitting here at this table with all these people I have to do business with, and we are having this outrageous conversation. But it was just so incredible.

So we go off to Performing Arts Center and we are in the Performing Arts Center and everyone is very prim and proper and dressed up. We are watching this play and it's a little slow.

I mean the Joy Luck Club was very much a "chick" flick when they made it into a movie, and the musical is very much a "chick" play. And so Jos was kind of not really into this play and you could tell he was getting a little fidgety. He's tall; and the rows in the Performing Arts Center are really close together, even by my standards. You could tell he was getting a little fidgety. When the intermission came, he really wanted out of that row. He really wanted to be out and get some room.

We were sitting about four seats in from the end of the aisle. We all stood up at intermission. The two people who were sitting on the end were getting ready to file out, but they weren't moving fast enough for Jos. Jos notices in the row behind that the people had already filed out. So in this really fancy occasion with all these whoop-de-doo people Jos proceeds to step over the back of the chair like he is in the bleachers at a football game, and then walks out the aisle and walks into the lobby of the Performing Arts Center.

Meanwhile the usher who of course knew me, her eyes get really wide as she sees this man stepping over the back of the seat, which you don't really do in the Performing Arts Center. She just looks at me with this horrified look on her face, "Who is this man stepping over the seats in the Performing Arts Center?"

I was like whistling and looking around and like, "I don't know this guy".

It was so Jos because he just wasn't going to be worried about what was proper and where he was. He was just a guy who was bored at this stupid play and he wanted to get out and stretch his legs. I remember that night and thinking, "OK, well maybe no more official functions for Jos," It was just so funny, it was just so classically him.

I feel so cheated that we didn't get to spend more time together outside of work. It wasn't that we didn't have fun at work. It was just that I felt there were so many more things I wanted to talk to him about. And so many more things about him I wanted to learn.  We had wonderful political discussions.  There wasn't anything we didn't talk about. There wasn't anything I felt like I couldn't talk to him about.

It was just... it just clicked so well when we were talking when we were together that I feel really robbed. I feel like there were so many things that we could have done together, enjoyed together.

The Napa trip, we went on our department trip to Napa, the bike trip. It almost killed me. I was not in shape and those folks all went zooming on ahead. It was so much fun to spend a whole day with him outside of work.

Once in a while we'd have lunch together. I just try and think of all the little times we spent together. I just wish that there were more. I have to be be very thankful that this guy interviewed me for this job at WebTV and decided to hire me, because I learned PERL from him; and I learned Javascript from him; and I learned about color television from him; and

I just looked at the world in such a different way when I looked at it through his eyes.

I don't know who there will ever be who will let me see the world in that way again.