By Karl Rosengarth
Chances are you’ve never met former Dirt Rag employee Emmet B. Handy. Despite the fact that he’s never ridden a bicycle, let me assure you that Emmet is a legend among Dirt Rag staffers. For several years, Emmet played a critical role in the production of the magazine.
I figure it’s high time that the rest of the world learns the truth about this hidden hero. I recently caught up with Emmet, and we talked about the old days, and what he’s been up to lately.
Dirt Rag: When did you start working for Dirt Rag?
Emmet B. Handy: I got hired officially in February of 1998. That’s when my name first appeared on the masthead, on Issue #63. My official job title was Production Support. But before that time, I just showed up at the office during deadlines and helped out, unofficially.
Just showing up—that was the tried and true method for getting hired at Dirt Rag, back in the day.
For sure. As John Herron, another Dirt Rag alum, confessed in his Issue #100 interview: "I started as an intern. I didn’t make it to the office much, but worked hard when I did show up. I don’t think I’m the only Dirt Rag employee to have started by just showing up. It’s hard to fire someone you do not pay, and after a few months it’s hard not to pay someone who’s been there a few months." I love that quote. It pretty much sums up my situation too.
So, what exactly was your Production Support role?
You have to appreciate that, back in 1998, deadlines were a hectic time. Making sure that The Rag made it "out the door" on time involved some late nights—which were fueled by copious quantities of beer and M&M’s. That’s where I came in. I dispensed the M&M’s.
Can you elaborate a bit on the M&M’s dispensing, for the sake of those who’ve never seen you in action?
Huh? I always figured that a plastic M&M’s dispenser was a rather simple concept, but here goes: Open the latch on my back, fill me with M&M’s, close latch. You with me so far?
Yeah, go on [laughs].
Then, whenever you need a boost: you cup your left hand, position it below my right hand, and then pull down on my raised left arm with your right hand. Jackpot! A fistful of fury… a cornucopia of candy-coated chocolaty consumables.
How long did you serve as Production Support?
I held down that title through Issue #83, which was November of 2000. I stuck around for some time after that, and helped out here and there.
So what happened? To your job, I mean.
Well, the whole operation got more efficient, and deadlines settled down. Fewer late night sessions meant less demand for my services. Eventually, I got replaced by care packages filled with Momma Browne’s snickerdoodles—delivered right to the doorstep during deadlines. Nowadays I hear that deadline salvation comes in the form of banana bread, courtesy of Elizabeth Hildreth. Another reason to love the UPS driver, but no love for lil’ old Emmet.
Aw man, you know we still love you.
No worries. It was probably for the best. It turns out that my cousin had this really bomber gig with a NASCAR team, and I hooked up with them.
What to do you do for them?
What the hell you think? I dispense M&M’s.
Well… I think that about wraps it up then.
I should hope so [laughs].