From 1989 to 1992, I worked at Prudential Insurance in Woodland Hills, California. I started at, pretty much, at the bottom of the Service Support Department. I hustled for a bit and got into the MIS Department.
The way the building was designed, it was a giant circle, the manager’s offices were in the center and everyone else sat outside in the open. From up above, it would look like a giant donut with management being the hole.
Once I made it to the MIS Unit, I sat three desks from our manager’s office. Outside of the offices was the main corridor/walkway to the building. So, if anyone came from out of state or from the other building they would come down the corridor and walk past my desk.
After about three weeks of being in the MIS Unit, I started seeing this guy, who worked in another wing of the building, walk by. Everyday he walked by. He would head to the back of our wing to the claims support unit and meet with the supervisor; the supervisor’s name was Marty.
Anyway, this guy would walk by every day. As he walked by he would kind of mad-dog me. What made this kind of funny is that this guy had a wandering eye like Biggie Smalls. So, when he would mad-dog me it was confusing, he was frowning, but staring at the floor and ceiling at the same time. On top of this, he had fire-engine red hair and was attempting to grow a beard, but it was patchy like he glued puffs of red pubes on his mug.
This was the routine, he’d walk by, mad dog me and I’d laugh. This lasted for about six months.
Then that Halloween Mr. Fire-engine came dressed in a martial arts uniform complete with a black belt. This cracked me up. I called him Karate Man for the rest of the day.
Later that afternoon somebody came to my desk looking for Karate-Man, they asked if I had seen Richard or Rick (I’m fuzzy on the name). They asked for him and I said, “Oh, Karate Man.” They said, “Oh boy, don’t joke around about that. He’s serious about his martial arts. He’s been instructing for some years.” This blew me away. He’s come off as such a douche bag and because of that, I’ve dismissed him without much thought.
From then on out I’d watch him or mad-dog back, but I didn’t antagonize him — much.
Then in 1992, my unit was laid-off. One day we were working, the next day I’m watching Richard Bey in my underwear with a tub of ice cream (joking here).
Some time went by, six months, and I started talking to my old coworkers again. When the layoffs happened, I was sick of all of them, even though they didn’t do anything wrong, I took a break.
So, one night in 1993, I’m at home on a Sunday night. Clicking channels and I’m half paying attention to the TV as America’s Most Wanted comes on. The opening story is a guy that instructs at a martial arts studio, and he is very interested in a female student of his. Well, the student isn’t into him – at all. He waits for her after class, offers her a ride, she says no, they argue, finally she gets in the car. He drives a bit, pulls over puts a move on her, she tries to get out of the car, and he gets her in a headlock, snaps her neck and then throws her in a dumpster. He heads for New York.
After the segment, they show the guy’s picture — it’s Karate Man from my job. I immediately call my former co-worker Steve Simmons and tell him to turn on channel 11 (Fox) and wait for the recap. He calls me back ten minutes later, out of breath, stuttering, saying, “This is the guy that mad-dogged us everyday. He could have killed us!” I was a bit stunned myself. I blew it off, “No, I’d have kicked his ass.”
I thought about it a little over the next week, and then on Sunday Steve called me back to tell me that America’s Most Wanted led to his arrest in New York.
The thing that hit me the most, aside from this woman losing her life to this douche bag, was the fact that I couldn’t read this guy. I saw a dork, not a murderer. Creepy.