Saturday, August 28, 2004

My First Time

I found a ballpoint pen this morning that reminded me of the first time I ever saw the Internet. I think it was 1998 or '99, but I can't remember exactly, I just remember the job where it happened.
I was doing the office temp thing and got sent downtown to work in a mail room for a "growth-industry" company. Growth industry? I hoped it was a pot farm, but it wasn't.
It was several floors in an aged but fetchingly art-decoesque building-lots of curly flourishes and dim incandescent lamps in the hallways. You could smell the elevator operator's cheap cologne, which was weird since they hadn't had an el-op since 1959. Place had a Kubrick Shining vibe. I thought I'd like it.
A minor boss met me in the lobby and gave me my first-ever 'proximity badge'. Wave it at the thing that looks like an intercom and the door opens. Neat-O! All science fictiony and stuff.
Once you passed through that portal the quaintness was vaporized. It was the first time I'd ever seen a wasteland of damncubes. Duct tape held wires to the ubiquitous bluish-gray industrial carpet. Pictures of children and kittens adorned the bland gray walls of the bland white people's damncubes. I prayed to gods I don't believe in-please don't put me in one of those damncubes!

The invisible cloud beings heard my plea.

I got lucky. Minor Boss ushered me to the mail room. It was a windowless room with two doors. There was some hi-tech stuff (computer, printer, giant-ass fax machine etc.) I didn't recognize and a wall of slots that looked like they were designed to hold mail. Minor Boss said he liked me because I "catch on quick". I decided to hate him. He gives me a 'walkie-talkie'. He tells me he's impressed because I know how to use it. I'm pissed because this cheap plastic piece of shit isn't heavy enough to cave in Minor Boss' hair-tonic skull.
( My Granpa once showed me a WWII walkie -talkie and that thing was heavy enough to sink ten thousand Titanics)
He will call me on the radio( why not just use the phone?) when mail arrives and I will grab a dolly and walk two blocks to the post office, grab the mail and bring it to the mail room. I will sort it into the slots. Then, using an out-of-date office diagram, I will un-slot it and re-distribute it to various other slots that are scattered willy-nilly throughout the building.
I'm stunned by this display of inefficiency, but I need the money.

Mostly I just sat and waited for that awful drive-in window radio noise.

I'd never had a computer, but I was able to figure out how to play Space Cadet Pinball on the one in the mail room. A couple days later I found Internet Explorer. Wow. Who put all this porn on the computer? (In hindsight, someone left a helluva lot of 'cookies' behind).
That gets boring quick. I'm a sick puppy, but I'm not spanking monkey at work. (A few years later, at a different job, I'm bending Alicia over our boss' desk, but that's different).

Anyway, I got hired on full-time. Yippee!
Two weeks later the company went under. I got two weeks salary as compensation.
I could've bought an IBM 486 , but I drank it all instead.
Probably the smartest thing I ever did.

No comments: