BERKELEY, CA—Area resident Kenneth Phelan received a message Monday from his only friend, who made a special trip to Phelan's computer terminal to inform him that he had been sent some mail.
"Welcome," the friend told Phelan, "you've got mail."
Phelan, a longtime "help-desk" employee at a computer lab on the University of California at Berkeley campus, received the greeting at approximately 3 a.m., shortly after logging off a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan page.
Phelan said he was happy to hear from his sole friend, whose voice he describes as warm and enthusiastic. "He likes to let me know whenever I get a piece of mail," said Phelan, also known as "email@example.com," speaking from the one-room apartment he shares with his cat, Dalek. "He's my friend."
According to Phelan, after his friend told him about the mail arrival, the pair talked for hours.
"I like talking to him—he's a very good listener," Phelan said. "I told him all about how I was trying harder to be more comfortable and talkative around my co-workers at the computer lab, and how I was hoping to break through and do stuff with some of them outside of work someday. He just listened quietly for a long time, and then when I was done talking, he said, 'Goodbye.'"
"Even when I get really upset, he lets me talk it through," Phelan said. "That's what a real friend does."
Phelan said that the mail his friend dropped by to tell him about was from someone named 1898U50.26HL@ compuserve.com, who wanted to inform him of an opportunity to make $50,000 in two weeks with only a $5 investment. Though he did not know 1898U50.26HL@compuserve.com, Phelan said he "seemed nice," and expressed hope that they could one day become friends too.
"Maybe the three of us could get together someday and play Doom or something," Phelan said. "That would be a lot of fun."