A Little Bit of Me

Jottings and Writing, miscellanous misgivings

Archive for pin collector



Leo looked a little out of place as he stood outside the Royal Hotel, the site of the Red Hat Convention. The Red Hats were Linux operators who had all qualified at the very top of their field as troubleshooters for the Linux Operating System. Leo was dressed splendidly in cream chino’s, white athletic shoes (for easy running), a blue polo shirt and, of course, his fly-fishing jacket. But he was quite different from most people loitering outside the hotel this morning. The only clue to Leo’s purpose to being outside the Royal Hotel were the odd three pins in his Australian Outback hat. If one had looked closer, one would have noticed that Leo’s fishing jacket sat rather uncomfortably on him and if one had slipped the jacket open, one would have discovered over 100 trading pins. Leo is a Pinhead. Leo collects lapel pins that interest groups, conventioneers, up and coming companies manufactured to celebrate their little world-shattering event. Pinology crosses social and cultural boundaries and aficionados form a tight knit group that covers all corners of the world. They correspond regularly on the Internet through groups such as Pinland, ProPin (for the more serious Pinhead), and KiloPin for the elite Pinheads who have collections over one thousand. Today Leo is after a Red Hat pin which he hopes to get from one of the conventioneers and which he hopes to trade with Falco, the ultimate god of pinheads with the affectionate moniker of KingPin.

Pinheads do not pay money for pins, they exchange. Tomorrow he would meet Falco in his hometown and he has promised Leo, via the Internet, that he will exchange a 1974 IBM pin for a 2000 Red Hat. A done deal, and Leo will have the 1974 to complete his consecutive collection 1967-1999. A complete set to make him the envy of computer based Pinheads. His heart is beating at 100, he is pumped. He must score the Red Hat pin but he has been warned that some of the Red Hats know the value of their pins and will not part with them for anything. Oh no. Some have been known to ask hundreds of dollars for a basic give-a-way pin. But only a give-a-way to a legitimate, registered conventioneer. Last year one pinhead had masqueraded as a conventioneer and hung around the conference locale waiting for an opportunity to lift a convention pack, but that was considered to be bad etiquette and he had been singled out as a pinhead not to exchange pins with. Within a month he was ostracized and so disheartened that he committed the worst faux pas a pinhead could – he tried to sell his 15,000 pin collection at auction. No-one came and he ended up throwing them all from a bridge. Among them, a rare 1980 Roundtable pin with misspelling so that it read RundTabla.

Ten fifteen and a quarter of an hour past checkout time. Anytime now. Leo recalls his wife’s scorn at breakfast that morning.

“You’re like a little kid. For God sakes why don’t you have a decent hobby like golf or fishing. What sort of man are you with that stupid room full of pins. I can’t take any of my friends in there. They just guffaw into their hands.”

Leo, a retired accountant, thought that collecting pins was much better than collecting cars of worse, women. He did sometimes though see what his wife was talking about. Time Magazine had done a piece on pinheads for their June issue and they had been very disparaging about grown men and women indulging in such a stupid profession. Then one of those ghastly reality TV shows had done a series on people who collected things and they lumped Pin heads with Barbie doll, Teddy Bear, and Matchbox Toys collectors. Lots of angry letters to the editor from Pinologists after that one.

Just as Leo reflected on his own letter a rather dapper man, dressed in a sky-blue suit emerged from the hotel. He carried a large red satchel that bore the unmistakable moniker of the Linux Red Hat Convention and pinned to his lapel, beside his name badge which read Arnold Snedden and beneath it Red Hat, was the Red Hat 2000 Lapel Pin, freshly glinting in the cities morning sun. Leo sucked in his gut and breath and, noticing that his heart rate had increased even further, he stepped forward.

“Excuse me for interrupting you but I am interested in that pin you have on your lapel. I am an avid admirer of your organisation and would very much like to purchase such a pin as a souvenir of your wonderful accomplishments. Could we say $20?”

Arnold Snedden looked at Leo as if he was something that should be removed from the pavement and sneered at him.

“Most certainly not! I know what you are and I know the value of this pin. I am not selling it, Now kindly remove yourself from in front of me so I can go about my business.”

“All right then $50,” Leo said with a hint of desperation mixed with what he hoped would pass for business acumen.

“Get out of my way or I will call security,” screeched Arnold Snedden and he took a step backwards. He hadn’t noticed the rather portly gentleman scooting down the inner part of the pavement on his foldaway aluminum foot scooter, and he not so much felt the impact of the scooter as the last contact he made with the ground as he hit his head rather painfully on a large terracotta pot that sat at the entrance to the Royal Hotel.

At first the sound was as gentle as leaves rustling, then it became more intense as if thousands of insects were taking off and landing. The sound then rose to that of a roaring locomotive and the flashing lights started. Leo felt the insects crawling over his skin and then his tongue pressing against the roof of his mouth and he became rigid. He noticed that his breathing had become rapid and he became focused on his crawling skin and the rise of his chest. The sound was roaring, the lights were flashing, his skin was electric, and then it all suddenly stopped. The silence was deafening. For a split second Leo couldn’t even think. Then his eyes, which must have been shut, suddenly opened and he was looking down at himself standing over the prone body of Arnold Snedden, Red Hat, and he was reaching forward and then he was plucking that Red Hat pin from Arnolds lapel and he was putting the pin inside his fly-fishing jacket and then he was turning and rapidly walking down the road, away from the Royal Hotel, and then he was around the corner and he was running, running, running. Then Leo blinked and he was inside that body and he was indeed running down the street and catching his breath he hailed a taxi and then Leo was rapidly giving instructions to the driver to take him to the airport. Leo regained his breath about halfway through the journey and tentatively put his hand inside his jacket and Yes, he indeed did have the Red Hat pin and he felt his face redden, then Leo relaxed and all felt good with the world.

Falco sits at the table opposite Leo.  Falco is dressed in shorts and a Bermuda T-shirt that is an exoskeleton of pins, one of which proudly says PINOLOGIST. Falco is smoking a very long Cuban, hand rolled cigar (rumoured to be rolled between the silken thighs of a Cuban virgin) and he is looking over the table at Leo.

“So have you got the Red Hat?” he asks between deep inhales on his stogie, and thinking of smart dealing and snaring trophies and of the especially constructed vault in his basement, where 25, 768 pins lay in inventoried glory.

“I indeed do have the Big Red as I have come to call it,” Leo proudly proclaimed, “and do you have the 1974?”

“I have been thinking it over,” Falco graciatingly said, as he placed the burning Cobina in a pin-shaped ashtray at his elbow, “and in the light of yesterdays events outside the Royal Hotel my thinking has taken me to a somewhat lesser article. I was thinking the 1984 Macintosh Users with the blue gild and the misshapen clasp.”

Leo gulped, because although the 1984 Macintosh was a rare item it was not the deal that he had struck over the Internet.

“And why this late change of heart?” Leo enquired while trying to maintain his dignity as cigar smoke stung his eyes and assaulted his nasal passages.

“Because of a little matter of skullduggery and the police bulletin looking for a certain man who was seen to snatch an item from a man lying prostrate on the cement after being cruelly run down by a fold up scooter,” retorted Falco.

Leo felt a huge lump in his throat and almost stopped himself from uttering the next twenty words.

“Do you want to know what happened those 15,000 pins that Reg dropped off the Keyways Bridge last year?”

Falco suddenly stopped blowing smoke rings and looked deep into Leo’s eyes.

“You didn’t,” he said with a trace of respect and suppressed excitement. “You couldn’t have. It must have been hundreds of feet deep.”

“They never made it. Got caught on a ledge halfway down. I’d been following him for weeks. I knew he would end up doing something silly like that. Well – do you want them?”

“Jeez! You cunning bastard. Fifteen thousand pins will make me the biggest pinologist ever in the history of the sport. And I will have the mis-spelt Roundtable,” Falco said visibly impressed.

“Funny thing that,” said Leo. “Of all the pins he said he had I couldn’t find the Roundtable. You could never tell with Reg. He was always such an unreliable and eccentric Pinhead. By the way. What brand of cigars are those. I really think I might take up being a Cigar Aficionado.”