Colin wasn’t my boss. But he was slightly older than me, and had been at the company longer, so he wore the badge of seniority.

All these kids running into walls these days, trying to get series A funding for their unicorn of an idea… they’re only doing that now because we paved the way.

Not me, mind you. I was fairly useless at the company, dreaming of an elusive someday in the music business from the fabric confines of my cubicle. But the folks I worked with, including Colin, created the compression technology that enabled audio streaming over the internet, and then video, as part of the first wave of Internet startups back in the mid-90’s.

OG, as far as the Internet goes.

Or BG. Before Google.

Colin was considerably more useful than me, and so when he asked if I wanted to get some lunch and catch part of the March Madness NCAA tournament, I obliged.

We worked in a small loft building in the heart of Seattle’s Pioneer Square, and none of the lunch options nearby had basketball on TV. We found a bar with a different game glowing from every upper corner, and ordered fries and beers. And then more beers. And another order of fries, as we watched upset after upset, for three hours, until the after-work crowd started filling in.

Not once did Colin say We should go, and I certainly wasn’t going to suggest such a thing. We didn’t know each other that well, but I could tell he needed the time away from the office, where sleeping under desks was encouraged as part of the 24/7 workplace culture.

I had so much fun watching those games with him, yelling at the TV and recognizing, for the first time, a certain sense that if these underdogs could win, maybe I could, too.

After Colin and I left the bar, I walked to the Route 28 bus stop and took the Express back to my place, where I let the dog out, picked up my guitar, and took whatever next stumbling steps I could toward that dream of mine.

I didn’t even go back to the office.

Like I said, I was fairly useless.

There, anyway.