How I met Tom
Hey y'all. Fire Guy Ryan here.
Yeah, that guy. You may have seen me over the past year and a half on the ComicTom101 YouTube channel. Or perhaps on my Instagram page, @fireguyryan. You also may never have seen me before, since I have appeared very infrequently on our channel's highest-viewed speculation content. But that's simply because my history with comics is far less involved and lengthy than the rest of the fine folks on our ComicTom team, and as a storyteller myself I find I am much more drawn to the art and the story than the speculation side of our hobby. Even though speculation can be its own kind of thrilling.
But I digress. You didn't click on this article to hear me talk about why I'm not world famous yet. You clicked to hear the story of how ComicTom and I met and became friends. It's an interesting story, one that has absolutely nothing at all whatsoever to do with comic books.
For how close I am to Tom, for how much time we spend together and how effortless our on-camera conversations can be, it still surprises me how new our relationship is.
We met in early 2013. I was about to turn 24, and having just finished working at the local mall for the past three years I was looking for something more in line with my interests. I was getting sick of working at a cash register, and didn't want to get "stuck" working at the mall forever, like I had seen happen to several other people at the time. So I quit my job at Jamba Juice (incidentally, I've never enjoyed working at a place more than I did working at Jamba) and started looking for a job that could utilize my freaky love for data entry, numbers, and organization. I thought a bank teller position might be a good mix of my love for neatness, numbers and counting, as well as my prior experience working a cash register. I applied for the job, and got called in for an interview. When I got to the bank and walked into the conference room for the interview, sitting across from me at the table was a young kid in a suit and Harry Potter glasses. He shook my hand and introduced himself as Tom. And so began one of the most consequential conversations of my life thus far.
I don’t remember much of the interview, in retrospect. I was nervous. It was my first “adult” job, and I really didn’t want to blow it. It was myself, Tom, and one other manager from the bank. Tom’s charisma and sense of humor put me at ease - we bonded almost immediately. The one thing I do remember from the interview is being asked “What do you like to do in your spare time?” I mentioned that I was a lover of art: I liked to read, write, watch films, etcetera.
Incidentally, if you are reading this and are looking for job interview advice, don’t say what I just said. If you are ever asked “What do you like to do in your spare time,” tell them something that sounds good. Anything. If you’re like me, and you never did anything useful or productive with your free time, lie. Learn from my mistakes: anything is better than, and I quote from my very first job interview at the movie theater, “oh, nothing really, I mostly like to hang out at home and watch movies.”
I got lucky in this interview; Tom was intrigued, and asked me what I liked to read. I don’t know what came over me, but I mentioned comic books, among other things. And it just so happened that this young man sitting across from me was a born and bred comic book fanatic, with his own comic-focused eBay page, and arms so inked with comic characters you could hardly see his skin anymore. We bonded over comics in the interview, wrapped things up, shook hands, and I left. I had a good feeling, which turned out to be accurate because I was soon offered the job.
I started working at the bank, with Tom as my boss, in January 2013. A few months later, Tom started managing a different bank, and a few months after that, I switched to working in hotels. Turns out I was terrible at meeting those impossible, 2013-era Wells Fargo sales goals (and incidentally I've never hated working at a place more than I did working at Wells Fargo.) But Tom and I continued to stay in touch, and a few years later, in February 2018, he reached out and asked if I could help him out with a comic book YouTube channel he had just started, and that was that.
I’m not big on “destiny” or “fate” or anything, but it is very strange to think about how I wouldn’t be here, writing this today, or on YouTube at all, if it hadn’t been for me deciding to apply to that particular bank, at that particular time. If I had tried to get that job a few months later, Tom would have already switched banks, and we would never have met. And that’s as sentimental as I’ll allow myself to get in this article. If you made it this far, I appreciate you, and your weirdly-high level of dedication to us and our little comic book venture here. Much love to all!
Geek Responsibly, everyone.
-Fire Guy Ryan
Fire Guy Ryan (sometimes just known as Normal Ryan) is one of the co-hosts on the ComicTom101 YouTube channel (and podcast!). When he's not reading comics or talking about them with his friends Tom, Russ, Jeff and Eryn, he's most likely working his graveyard job at the hotel in Seattle or sleeping in the daytime, and those are the two reasons he's probably not answering you right now. He's a lover of storytelling - film and television in particular - and every now and then he tries writing his own screenplay. He totally didn't write this blurb about himself either.